The 10 Most Expensive Paintings In The World
Whether it's via auction or private sales, artworks by big-name painters have drawn record-breaking prices in recent years. Some buyers are billionaire art collectors seeking a trophy piece to hang in their mansion. Others are investors with eyes on resale profit. And then there are art museums, banking that adding a Picasso or Warhol to their gallery will bring in the crowds.
This list includes only the most expensive paintings ever sold, not the world's most valuable paintings. Though artworks are assessed for insurance purposes, there’s truly no way to put a monetary value on the "Mona Lisa," which is considered priceless.
1. Salvator Mundi – Leonardo da Vinci – $450.3 Million
The most expensive painting in the world is Leonardo da Vinci's depiction of Jesus Christ holding a crystal orb! The painting was commissioned in 1605, during the same period as the Mona Lisa, by King Louis XII of France. However, it disappeared from all records somewhere between 1763 and 1900, until it was rediscovered by a group of British art dealers in 2005. Purchasing the painting for $10,000 they spent six years restoring and investigating its history before eventually announcing that it was a Da Vinci original.
The painting was exhibited in 2011 by the National Gallery of London and became known as the "Lost Leonardo", as it was the first discovery of a Da Vinci since 1909. The 'Savior of the World' (Salvator Mundi) was purchased on behalf of the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture & Tourism by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman.
2. Interchange – Willem de Kooning – $300 Million
The famed 1955 piece by Willem de Kooning was inspired by his environment while living in NYC and commanded the highest price ever paid in a private sale. Hedge fund billionaire Kenneth C Griffin bought it in a $500 million deal alongside his Jackson Pollock Number 17A purchase. If you want to look at one of the world's most expensive paintings, the "Interchange" is currently on display at Chicago's Art Institute.
3. The Card Players – Paul Cézanne – $250 Million
The third most costly painting in the world is Paul Cézanna's "The Card Players." It is one of five paintings included in the series of the same name by the French master of the 1890s. In 2011, it was acquired by the Royal Family of Qatar, reportedly paying twice the current record for any artwork to be sold at auction.
4. Nafea Faa Ipoipo – Paul Gauguin – $210 Million
Paul Gauguin, the French post-impressionist, painted this piece while he was on his first trip to Tahiti. "It was one of many native women he painted on the island, and its title translates to "When are you going to get married? ”. The artwork has also previously been called the world's most expensive painting, selling after two years of negotiations for $210 million in 2015.
5. Number 17A – Jackson Pollock – $200 Million
In 2015, this 1948 painting by Jackson Pollock was the second piece of artwork purchased by hedge fund manager Kenneth C Griffin in a $500 million deal. 'Number 17A' is not currently on public display, but there are many outstanding Pollock collections on display in museums around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MOMA).
6. No. 6 (Violet, Green and Red) – Mark Rothko – $186 Million
It may not be to everybody's taste, but since its release, No. 6 (Violet, Green and Red) has had a profound influence on contemporary art. In the "Bouvier Affair," the painting could be even more famous for being one of 36 pieces. This is an ongoing court battle between Dmitry Rybolovlev, the Russian tycoon, and Yves Bouvier, his art dealer. Dmitry claims that out of hundreds of millions of dollars, Yves defrauded him, overcharging him for several paintings, which Yves strongly denies!
7. Pendant portraits of Maerten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit – Rembrandt – $180 Million
Painted in 1634 to celebrate the wedding of Maerten and Oopjen, these two paintings by Rembrandt were never separated. The paintings should always be displayed together and never separated, art experts and historians agree. In 2015, the Louvre and the Rijksmuseum bought them as a joint venture, each paying 50 percent.
8. Les Femmes d’ Alger (“Version O”) – Pablo Picasso – $197.4 Million
The Femmes d'Alger ("Version O") was part of a Picasso series called "Les Femmes d'Alger" ("Women of Algiers") from 1954-55. It was the last of the series' 15 versions, considered to be a tribute to Henri Matisse, his friend. Until Salvator Mundi broke the record, the most expensive painting sold at auction for two years was Les Femmes d 'Alger (' Version O '). The piece was bought by the former prime minister of Qatar, Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani.
9. Nu couché – Amedeo Modigliani – $170.4 Million
This is Modigliani's most famous nude, made public in 1917 at his solo exhibition in Paris. It depicts a naked woman, similar to the one we mentioned previously, on a red sofa. This version was, however, purchased by Chinese billionaire Liu Yiqian for an astronomical sum. It was reported that, using his American Express Card, he bought the piece in a single transaction.
10. Masterpiece – Roy Lichtenstein – $165 Million
Lichtenstein's 1962 "Masterpiece" is the tenth most expensive painting in the world. The painting is inspired by the illustrations of comic books and competes with some of his other famous pieces, including "Whaam!" "and "Mickey's Look." In 2017 hedge-fund billionaire and avid art collector Steven A. Cohen, bought the piece for the hefty sum of $165 million!
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