21/02/2012 08:39 GMT | Updated 21/02/2012 13:23 GMT

Lucian Freud Portraits Could Top Leonardo And Major Pop Acts

It’s still only February, but 2012 has already been dubbed the ‘year of the art blockbuster’ – and now ticket sales are beginning to match the hype.

According the Europe’s largest ticket marketplace viagogo, demand for Lucian Freud Portraits (reviewed here) is set to exceed Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milian, the show at the National Gallery that was swiftly labeled ‘the greatest art show of all time’ and saw queues stretching along central London every morning for weeks.

Tickets to see the late painter’s portraits, which are showing next door to the National Gallery in the National Portrait Gallery, are currently being searched for at a rate of once per minute - faster than the current biggest pop concerts.

The site also saw a 236 per cent spike in demand during the BBC’s Lucian Freud: Painted Life documentary, which aired on Saturday

If Freud’s show does manage to attract more people than Leonardo, which began last December but ran until 5 Februrary this year, it will be quite a feat.

The landmark collection of the Italian master’s work was the most popular and fastest selling in the gallery’s history, with 323,897 people attending in total.

Ed Parkinson, Director of viagogo UK said: “da Vinci was a record breaking exhibition based on ticket demand, but the critic’s glowing reviews and the current demand for Freud tickets has arguably cemented the show as next hottest ticket in town for a new breed of art loving ‘Exhibitionists’.”

So-called ‘Exhibitionists’, the site claims, are people so desperate to get tickets for latest art shows they are driving demand and prices up, rivaling music acts such as Coldplay, JLS and Ed Sheeran in terms of searches.

However, visitors have been advised by the National Portrait Gallery that there are still plenty of tickets left for Lucian Freud Portraits without having to resort to expense bidding websites.

The gallery told The Huffington Post UK: "We do advise visitors not to buy tickets from unauthorised ticket sellers and advance tickets are only available from the Gallery or via Ticketmaster and their affiliated partners.

"There is still plenty of availability towards the end of March, and in April and May 2012.

"Also, there are at least 500 tickets available on the day from 10.00 am for walk-in visitors from the Gallery’s ticket desk - although we advise visitors to arrive early to avoid disappointment."