It's hardly shocking that paintings fetch such a high price. That's why to be a curator of paintings is such a splurge. The most expensive artworks in the world are priced higher than many mansions, yachts, and automobiles. Well, this is reasonable, considering how long it takes to complete a masterpiece. Furthermore, the price of art supplies is quite high. However, the sale and purchase of art occur near-daily, and it frequently carries with it astronomical price tags that most people will never be able to buy. For your convenience, we have compiled a list of the top most expensive famous paintings ever sold. To find out more, continue reading.
Les Femmes d'Alger (Version O)
Source image from 20 minutes
You can't have a comprehensive list without Pablo Picasso. In May 2015, his famous piece Les Femmes d'Alger sold at Christie's New York auction for a record-breaking sale of $195.8 million USD. As part of a series of paintings Picasso created in 1954 and 1955, this is one of the more daring and memorable. This picture, known as Version O, is the final installment of a series of paintings that Pablo Picasso created to honor Eugène Delacroix, an artist whom he greatly respected.
Water Serpents II
Source image from Arthive
Next on the list of pricey artworks is Wasserschlangen II, commonly known as Water Serpent II. Gustav Klimt painted this famous piece in the 20th century, and his primary subject was the sexuality and attraction between women.
This picture has a rich history besides being one of the most valuable paintings in the world. Why? Because it was taken from Jenny Steiner by invading Nazi soldiers in World War II. From that point until 2012, it was owned by the Ucicky family until being auctioned off. Since the artwork was stolen, the Ucickys and Steiner shared the revenues from its auction. In 2015, this same oil on canvas painting fetched a whopping $204 million at auction.
Source image from Jackson-Pollock.org
Jackson Pollock, one of the most well-known abstract artists, has the distinction of having produced one of the most expensive art pieces ever sold. Jackson Pollock first created his iconic drip paintings in the late 1940s. In September 2015, Kenneth C. Griffin bought the Number 17A, an abstract oil painting by the artist from David Geffen, for around $200 million from private collections.
Nafea Faa Ipoipo
Source image from Pinterest
Next on the list is the artwork that was sold for the purchase price of $229 million: the "Nafea Faa Ipoipo?". In English translation, "When Will You Marry?". This piece was painted by the French Post-Impressionist artist Paul Gauguin. The native ladies of Tahiti provided the inspiration for this piece when the artist went there in quest of a more authentic style of painting. Both of the women in the Will You Marry painting are sitting on a grassy field. There is one dressed in traditional Tahitian garb and one more Westernized. The title of the painting alludes to the fact that the girl depicted there is "husband-hunting," as indicated by the flower she wears behind her ear. In September 2014, an anonymous bidder bought the artwork at a private sale.
The Card Players
Source image from Smarthistory.org
Paul Cézanne's The Card Players is the third most expensive art piece ever sold at a private sale. Paul Cézanne painted five versions of this renowned oil painting, all depicting men at a table, playing cards, throughout his career. Despite drawing inspiration from a theme common in 17th-century genre painting—gambling—Cézanne makes a radical departure by depicting a serene scene free of excitement. The Royal Family of Qatar privately bought this work from the series in 2011 for $250 million.
Source image from Willem-de-Kooning.org
Art experts agree that Willem de Kooning's masterwork, Interchange, sold for the second-most money of any work of art ever. With Interchange, he breaks away from his usual subject of female figures to create an abstract oil painting using fast, expressive brushstrokes. For $328 million, Kenneth C. Griffin of the David Geffen Foundation purchased this work in 2015. It's also important to note that this masterwork was sold in a private sale, at which the prices were significantly higher.
Source image from leonardodavinci.net
In 2016, during a Christie's 2014 auction in New York City, Saudi prince Badr bin Abdullah Al Saud made a record-breaking sale of a $450.5 million offer on the 16th-century masterwork. This Leonardo da Vinci's piece shows a resemblance of Christ, who is holding a transparent orb in his left hand. On his other hand, he was making the sign of the cross. There is a common belief that this globe stands in for the sphere of the sky.
The Salvator Mundi artwork has been a source of debate for a long time. They speculated that it was a forgery of a picture by Leonardo da Vinci that had long since disappeared. People assumed the original had been lost or destroyed. Some academics have also suggested that Leonardo da Vinci's assistant Bernardino Luini is the true creator behind this artwork. After a thorough restoration in 2006, however, the master's signature skills became more apparent, and the painting was again credited to Leonardo da Vinci.
Generally speaking, the cost of paintings is rather expensive. However, this is to be anticipated given the significant human and financial investment that went into producing such a work of art and beauty. On the other hand, certain artists have achieved unparalleled success, which drives up the prices of their works. The aforementioned paintings are among those that have been sold for the highest prices in the history of the art market.
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