Which are the most expensive paintings in the world today?
Though paintings are not a thing for fancy or pride for most people, it is one of the most prized assets one can own in the world today.
Most people just see paintings as just a form of decoration today but it has proven to be more than that considering the lengths billionaires go, to own a beautiful piece of art.
When you check our list of the most expensive paintings in the world, you’ll definitely see things differently.
What we can learn from history is that most paintings initially go for a considerable price, but fast forward to years later and it might be worth millions of dollars.
So, if you come across any painting or own one, you better make it your own prized possession because you never know how much it will be worth later in life.
The Top 20 Most Expensive Paintings In the World Ever Sold
In this article, we will present you with a list of the world’s most expensive paintings and their worth.
No doubt, it’s going to be easy for any of these top 20 richest people in the world to purchase these art works.
20. Untitled Painting by Jean Michel – $110 Million
The fact that the lowest painting on this list of most expensive paintings in the world went for a whopping $110 million is just unreal.
Some people might just think about how much is paint and all the accessories to make the painting. But as they say, the beauty of art is the impression it makes on you.
This particular painting talks about the history of slave trade in America.
This piece was made by Jean Michel Basquiat featuring a scarred black skull, angry eyes reminiscent of slaves when they were being shipped from the shores of Africa to America.
This historic painting was bought by a Japanese entrepreneur who is identified as Yusaku Maezawa.
19. Reclining Nude with Blue Cushion by Amadeo Modigliani – $118 Million
Amadeo Modigliani is well known for his affinity making art pieces of nude figures and this particular one is no different.
Amadeo started the painting work with his dealer and friend named Léopold Zborowski who gave him his home as studio, supplied models for him, and all the other necessary items he needed to comfortably do what he loves.
Imagine this painting hung on the wall of one of the 20 most expensive homes in the world? Hmm, classic!
This amazing art work was sold for up to $118 million during its auction, making it the 19th most expensive painting in the world.
18. The Scream by Edvard Munch – $118 Million
The scream is a representation of a real life experience that the painter, Edvard Munch had while on a stroll with his two friends.
This scenario was well represented in the painting as we can see his companions leaving him behind. We can see how the sound waves of the scream were well represented carefully with flowing curves.
Aside being a poet, Edvard Munch is also a poet and an author. The Scream artwork is the 18th on the list of most expensive paintings in the world.
17. Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I by Gustav Klimt – $135 Million
Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (also called The Lady in Gold or The Woman in Gold) is a painting done and completed by Gustav Klimt between 1903-1907.
That says a lot about how precious and how the artist carefully took his time with the painting for details. The painting was actually commissioned by the husband of the woman in the painting after its completion.
The painting however got lost to the Nazis during the occupation of Austria in 1941 and it was displayed at the Belvedere.
16. Woman III by Willem de Kooning – $137 Million
As a result of strict rules about visual arts by the government of Tehran, the Woman III painting was restricted to the Tehran museum of Contemporary Art collections from 1970 – 1994.
These rules were however abolished in 1979 when the revolution in 1979 started. The painting was then traded confidentially by Thomas Ammann’s fine art to David Geffen in 1994.
It was after this time that the painting was revealed to the world to see.
The painting was then resold to Billionaire Steven Cohen in late 2006 for $137 million, making it one of the most expensive paintings in the world.
15. No. 5, 1948 by Jackson Pollock – $140 Million
This is a painting that became the most expensive paintings in the world when it was sold in 2006 for $140 million until it was displaced in 2011.
The painting was also sold to David Geffen who owned the Geffen records and the DreamWorks SKG. The painting is unique for its abstract expressionist features.
It is ranked the 13th most expensive painting ever sold.
14. Three Studies of Lucian Freud by Francis Bacon – $142.4 Million
This is the first painting by a British on this list of most expensive paintings in the world by Lucian Freud and was sold at an auction for the highest bidder at $142.4 million, the most expensive paintings at the time.
It was however displaced by another painting which we’ll tell you about in this article.
The painting was done at the royal college of Arts in London which has a large enough studio for Lucian to do his work in 1969. It first came to public show by 1970 in Turin, Italy.
13. Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II by Gustav Klimt – $150 Million
This is the second painting by Gustav on this list. He must be quite the talented one but he’s not the only one with multiple paintings on this list of expensive paintings in the world.
Adele is also the only person on this list whose painting appeared twice on this list. This was also among the paintings seized by the Nazis during the invasion in 1941.
The painting was later sold by Oprah Winfrey to an unknown figure speculated to be a Chinese billionaire for $150 million after it was loaned to the Museum of Modern Arts in New York City.
12. La Reve by Pablo Picasso – $155 Million
La Reye translated as The dream is an oil painting by Pablo Picasso on the 22nd of January, 1932.
The figures in the painting is identified as Marie-Thérèse Walter. The painting features distorted depictions through its unique outlines and contrasting colors.
The erotic nature of the painting has made it gain a lot more attention by the public. It is the 10th most expensive painting in the world.
11. Nu Couche by Amadeo Modigliani – $157.2 Million
This is another nude, erotic painting but from another artist in Amedeo Modigliani which features woman lying naked on a red sofa.
It broke records to become one of the most expensive paintings in the world after it was sold at an auction in 2018 to an unknown buyer.
10. Masterpiece by Roy Liechtenstein – $165 Million
Masterpiece is a painting that looks much like a comic book featuring a man named Brad talking with another woman in a car.
The painting is well noted for the humor it exudes and it’s classic Ben-day dots.
The painting was sold at an auction for a staggering $165 million and its proceeds were donated to the criminal justice reform. It was bought by billionaire Steven Cohen.
9. Nu Couche by Amadeo Modigliani – $170.4 Million
This painting by Amadeo Modigliani looks very much like the previous painting also included in this list of most expensive paintings in the world.
It is just bigger than the latter with different lying positions by the model featured in the painting. It is also an oil painting that was sold at the Christie’s New York sale to billionaire Chinese business magnate known as Liu Yiqian.
The art piece was rumored to be paid for using an American express card.
8. Les Femmes d’Alger Version O by Pablo Picasso – $177.4 Million
Les Femmes d’Alger is translated as women of Algiers in English and is one of the best ever paintings by Pablo Picasso inspired by another painting from Eugene Delacroix in 1831 situated in his apartment.
The painting was started in late 1954 and was completed within a year.
This painting is one of the series of paintings that year and it was all bought by Victor and Sally Ganz in Paris for a mere $212, 000 in 1956 and was resold in 2018 for a staggering sum of $177.4 million.
That is profit that is way over the top if you ask me. The painting is the 6th most expensive painting in the world.
7. Pendant Portraits of Maerten Soolmans & Oopjen Coppit – $180 Million
This is the only paired full-length wedding portrait painting on this list of most expensive paintings in the world by Rembrandt in 1634.
The painting was owned by the Rothschild family but was sold to two museums who jointly paid for the painting which went for a mouth-watering $180 million.
Even though the subjects were painted on separate portraits, they have always been moved around together.
6. No 6. (Violet, Green and Red) by Mark Rothko – $186 Million
This is one painting that I cannot comprehend how it got so expensive to be included on the list of most expensive paintings in the world.
But as the saying goes, beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. The painting is an absolute abstract expression which is made up of delineated color with uneven and hazy shades.
It was sold to a Russian billionaire, Dmitry Rybolovlev in 2014.
Did you know that Swizz Beatz, one of the top 30 richest rappers in the world, is known for his love of art, prompting him to be an art collector.
5. Number 17A by Jackson Pollock – $200 Million
This is another painting by Jackson Pollock who is renowned for painting abstract, expressionist piece of art works.
Not much is known about the painting aside that it was sold by David Geffen foundation to Kenneth Griffin for a huge $200 million.
4. Nafea faa Ipoipo by Paul Gaugun – $210 Million
The name of the painting is translated to a question ‘When will you marry?’. It was an oil painting done by Paul Gaugun in 1892.
The painting was loaned to the Kunstmuseum in Bale, Switzerland for 50 years before it was sold to Sheika Al-Mayassa bint Hamad Al – Thani in 2015 for a large sum of $210 million.
It went up on exhibition on the 28th of June at the Foundation Beyeler Riehen. It is ranked the 4th world’s most expensive painting.
3. The Card Players by Paul Cezanne – $250 Million
Paul Cezanne is also a French post Impressionist artist who used oil paint to create this master peirce of art showing men playing cards with some audience watching.
This painting is a part of the 5 painting series by Paul Cezanne but this particular one went for the highest cost worth $250 million. The painting was sold to the Royal family of Qatar.
2. Interchange by Willem de Kooning – $300 Million
This oil canvas painting was done in 1955 by abstract expressionist painter, Willem de Kooning. It is one of his first of many abstract landscapes signalling a change in style influenced by Franz Kline.
It was also owned by David Geffen and sold to Kenneth Griffin for an estimated $300 million. This price put the painting among the most expensive paintings in the world.
1. Salvator Mundi by Leonardo da Vinci – $450 Million
Who else if it is not Leonardo da Vinci. The Salvator Mundi is the most expensive painting in the world.
The painting name which means ‘Savior of the World’ in English was dated back to c. 1500 after its original source was initially unknown but was finally traced to Leonardo da Vinci.
This source is however doubted by many other artists.
The painting was sold in 2015 for $450 million to Prince Badr bin Abdallah during an auction, making it the most expensive painting in the world today.
The purchase was rumored to be made for the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism and also the Saudi Arabian crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.
Most Expensive Paintings In the World (Summary)
In this article, we have given you a brief overview of the most expensive paintings in the world with the least going for over a hundred million dollars.
It is owned also by the richest billionaires and owning any of these pieces of art is a dream for a lot of people.
This article is also an eye-opener for people about paintings because most of the paintings on this list were first sold for cheap and today, their value has multiplied exponentially.
Recap of the World’s Most Expensive Paintings:
- Salvator Mundi by Leonardo da Vinci – $450 Million
- Interchange by Willem de Kooning – $300 Million
- The Card Players by Paul Cezanne – $250 Million
- Nafea faa Ipoipo by Paul Gaugun – $210 Million
- Number 17A by Jackson Pollock – $200 Million
- No 6. (Violet, Green and Red) by Mark Rothko – $186 Million
- Pendant Portraits of Maerten Soolmans & Oopjen Coppit – $180 Million
- Les Femmes d’Alger Version O by Pablo Picasso – $177.4 Million
- Nu Couche by Amadeo Modigliani – $170.4 Million
- Masterpiece by Roy Liechtenstein – $165 Million
- Nu Couche by Amadeo Modigliani – $157.2 Million
- La Reve by Pablo Picasso – $155 Million
- Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II by Gustav Klimt – $150 Million
- Three Studies of Lucian Freud by Francis Bacon – $142.4 Million
- No. 5, 1948 by Jackson Pollock – $140 Million
- Woman III by Willem de Kooning – $137 Million
- Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I by Gustav Klimt – $135 Million
- The Scream by Edvard Munch – $118 Million
- Reclining Nude with Blue Cushion by Amadeo Modigliani – $118 Million
- Untitled Painting by Jean Michel – $110 Million
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