Kate Moss has revealed her supermodel body is quite literally a work of art – as she has a tattoo inked by Lucian Freud just above her bottom.
Kate Moss, 38, befriended Lucian Freud – widely considered one of the greatest artists of the 20th Century – when he painted her in the nude in 2002 while she was pregnant with her daughter Lila Grace.
In an interview in America, Kate Moss told how Lucian Freud – who learned how to give homemade tattoos using permanent ink and a scalpel during a brief stint in the Merchant Navy during the Second World War – offered to draw two tiny swallows at the base of her spine.
“He told me about when he was in the navy, when he was 19 or something, and he used to do all of the tattoos for the sailors,” she said.
“And I said, <<Oh my God, that’s amazing>>. And he went, <<I can do you one. What would you like? Would you like creatures of the animal kingdom?>>
“I said I liked birds and he replied, <<I’ve done birds. I’ve got it in my book.>> And he pointed down at a painting of a chicken upside down in a bucket. And I said, <<No, I’m not having that.>>
“And then he said, <<Maybe I should just do you>>. And I thought, I’m not going to have a girl on my a***. So we decided to do a flock of birds.
“I mean, it’s an original Freud. I wonder how much a collector would pay for that? A few million?
“If it all goes horribly wrong I could get a skin graft and sell it! It’s probably the only one on skin that’s still around, because when he was in the navy he was about 19. Can you imagine?”
Kate Moss, who this week launched her new book, Kate, has often shown off the tattoo but the provenance of it has never been revealed until now.
She has several other tattoos including a heart on her left wrist, a small anchor on her right wrist and a small star on her ankle.
During the interview Kate Moss spoke movingly about being introduced to Lucian Freud – who died in July 2011 at the age of 88 – after naming him in an interview as the person she would most like to meet. Two days later, Lucian Freud’s fashion designer daughter Bella called and said the artist would like to meet her.
Kate Moss revealed: “I was, <<Oh my God!>> Bella said, <<He just wants to go for dinner with you. Don’t be late>>. So I went to the house and he started [the nude painting] that night. Couldn’t say no to Lucian. Very persuasive. I phoned Bella the next day and said, <<How long is it going to take?>>
“She said, <<How big is the canvas?>> I said, <<It’s quite big>>. She said, <<Oh dear, could take six months to a year>>.”
The painting took nine months to complete, with the model sitting seven nights a week from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. It was sold to an anonymous bidder at auction in 2005 for £3.9 million ($6 million). Kate Moss said of that time: “I could not be one minute late. He was really powerful. You wanted to please him. But I wish I hadn’t posed like that.
“It’s just the first thing I did – I just fell on the side of the sofa and he said, <<That’s fine>>, and started painting. It’s not like modelling where you can change it. I had a dead arm.”
The supermodel also told Vanity Fair magazine of the famous photograph of the pair cuddling in bed in 2010 when Lucian Freud was recovering from an accident. She said: “I took all these flowers, those little ones he loved . . . and he was in bed.
“He pulled back the covers and went, <<I’ve been keeping it warm for you>>.
“I love the picture. I just got under his arm. Lucian was always really kind. I adored him.”