Most Expensive Paintings Ever Sold
Paintings are worth billions of dollars. The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh, Monalisa of Leonardo da Vinci, The Birth of Venus of Sandro Botticelli, and so many more draw people from around the world.
How much can be a painting worth? A true masterpiece is priceless. But buying famous works of art can still require billions, depending on the painter and the history of the work. There are many high net worth individuals who would spend a lot of money to get one. They want to invest in the rarest and famous paintings. But you will still find the most expensive artworks either at Louvre or Getty.
Let us now take a look at the 10 most expensive paintings ever sold.
List of Most Expensive Paintings Ever Sold
There is often a frenzy to buy famous art at auction. Bids come from royal family, collectors, and museums at the auction house, because they all want to take home a masterpiece. Here are the top 10 most expensive paintings ever sold and the story behind them –
- Salvator Mundi – Leonardo Da Vinci
Salvator Mundi of Da Vinci is not just one of the most controversial paintings, it also ranks as the most expensive art ever sold. There is such a huge controversy about this painting, regarding its authenticity that there is even a documentary on Netflix about it. You can find discussions online to know more about this painting, its controversy, and the art world.
Salvator Mundi was sold for $450.3 million at Christie’s in 2017. Adjusted for inflation, its estimated market value in 2022 stand at $497.8 million! Initially it was not known who had purchased this painting at such a staggering price. It was later learned that Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia was the buyer. This is the only artwork of Da Vinci that is in a private collection.
- Les Femmes d’Alger, Version O – Pablo Picasso
Picasso’s famous work that showcases the best of 20th-century art was sold at Christie’s for $179.4 million in 2015, which was the highest recorded sale at that time.
Les Femmes d’Alger is one of Picasso’s most notable and boldest works. The auction house and many experts had estimated that it would fetch around $150 million. But eventually, it fetched much more. In an earlier sale in 1997, the painting had fetched $31.9 million.
- Nu couché – Amedeo Modigliani
This painting fetched the maximum price for Sotheby’s in 2018. Bidding started at $125 million and eventually it was sold through phone bidding for an impressive $157.2 million. The nudes of Modigliani, including Nu couché, are strikingly bold. Many at the time when they were painted even consider them to be scandalous.
- Portrait of Doctor Gachet – Vincent Van Gogh
The most impressive work of Van Gogh, this painting is of the doctor who looked after him during his last days. A Japanese businessman purchased this art piece for $82.5 million in 1990. At the time, it was an unprecedented amount for a painting. The buyer even declared that the painting would be cremated with him when he died. It is not known where Portrait of Doctor Gachet is at this time.
- Three Studies of Lucian Freud – Francis Bacon
Irish-born British artist Francis Bacon was an internationally famous painter. He is best known for producing iconic post-war art of traumatized and wounded people. This painting is on his fellow artist and subject Lucian Freud. It symbolizes their relationship. In just 10 minutes of bidding, this art work fetched $142.4 million at Christie’s.
- Twelve Landscape Screens – Qi Baishi
During the auction, frenetic bids were received through phone calls. Eventually, it was sold at the Beijing Poly Auction for $140.8 in 2017. 12 Landscape Screens fetched the maximum price for a panting for that year. It is to this date, the maximum price paid ever for a work of art from China. However, the buyer’s name remained anonymous. It is also not known where the painting is on display.
- The Card Players – Paul Cézanne
Paul Cézanne from Aix-en-Provence, France, is one of the most notable Post-Impressionist artists. He is best known for painterly brushstrokes where the approach is on perspective. The color palette is also vivid. Many consider his work to have influenced many artistic styles, such as Cubism and Fauvism. This is one reason why Paul Cézanne is so highly regarded in modern art.
This painting is actually in a series of five that the artist created in the 189os. Each painting depicts different male figures sitting at a table and holding cards in their hands. It is clearly on gambling, but the painter deviates by creating a calm and quiet atmosphere, where there is no chaos. It sold for $250 million in 2011. Its price after inflation is $328 million.
- Number 17A – Jackson Pollock
Jackson Pollock was an American painter and best known for drip paintings. He is credited for redefining color, pictorial space, and line, by finding new ways of filling the canvas. His work has paved the way for contemporary art.
Number 17A is a classic example of his techniques. It features a chaotic composition of white, yellow, orange, and blue oil paint. In September 2015, this painting sold for $218 million.
- Young Girl with a Flower Basket – Pablo Picasso
This vintage work was painted in 1905 by Pablo. It was sold at Christie’s for $115 million in 2018. At the time, it was Picasso’s fourth painting that fetched more than $100 million, which made him the only painter with more than one painting that sold at this level in an auction. The Rockefellers were the buyers, but the painting was offered on loan to the Musee-D’Orsay of Paris until 2019.
- Meules – Claude Monet
Monet is clearly one of the most well-known French artists ever. Meules, which is a landscape painting, was purchased by a philanthropic couple for $110.7 million in 2019. Identity of the buyer remains unknown.
Of course, there are many more paintings that have sold for hefty amounts. Most of them are classics from true masters of the art world.