Paintings are one of the invaluable assets some people take pride in owning. The elite see these as a work of art that portrays emotional order than mere decorations. They can commit millions of dollars to own the most expensive paintings in the world.
It is no doubt that the most expensive paintings in the world are found in museums and private collections. Moreover, they are beyond price; it is quite difficult to put a price on many of these paintings. But that does not stop the fact that, on a daily basis, people sell and buy these paintings.
At times, the price tags on them are so huge that most people can never afford them. History has taught us that most paintings, at first, go for a considerable price. Years later, the price may become millions of dollars.
This is one of the things this article is going to look at, from the Old Masters to contemporary works, these are the most expensive paintings in the world.
13 Most Expensive Paintings in the World
1. Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci
The Great Renaissance Master, Leonardo da Vinci brought this invaluable piece to life through his art skills. It is nearly impossible to put a price on this wonderful art piece but in 1962, it was insured for $100 million which was the highest at that time.
If determined by today’s rate, it will be somewhere around $700 million and you will agree that it is a huge investment. Beholding Mona Lisa is a wonderful sight indeed. It is believed to be the portrait of Lisa Gherardini, the wife of Florentine cloth merchant Francesco del Giocondo.
Going by the painting’s high quality, the only avenue for people to see it is by visiting the Louvre Museum in Paris.
Funnily enough, the museum always struggles to contain the large crowd that comes to see beautiful artwork. Link to the image
2. Interchange by Willem de Kooning
David Geffen, an accomplished business guru who wears many hearts, moving from being a movie producer, studio executive, sold to paintings to a billionaire hedge fund investor, Ken Griffin for a total of $500 million. That was in the fall of 2015.
One of these two paintings included the 1955 painting by Willem de Kooning known as Interchange. It was believed that the price of Interchange was $300 million.
Although most of these priceless artworks are bought by private individuals and prohibited from public access, this particular one was loaned to the Art Institute of Chicago by one of its board of trustees and no other person than Ken Griffin.
As a result, anyone can have access to it at the museum.
3. Nafea Faa Ipoipo (When Will You Marry?) by Paul Gauguin
Paul Gauguin, in 1891, traveled to Tahiti for the first time, falling in love with both the country and the beautiful women it produced. In 1892, he painted the post-impressionist Nafea Faa Ipoipo which means When will You Marry?
The painting depicted two women who sat among a vibrant landscape of gold, green, and blue.
It was also sold in 2015 for almost $300 million in a private sale, the same price as Interchange. Both of them are seen as the most expensive artwork ever sold.
Although the identity of the buyer is not known, it is believed to be in the possession of the Qatar royal family.
4. The Card Players by Paul Cezanne
The next most expensive painting in the world on our list is the Card Players. It was produced in 1892-93as well as was among the five series produced by the grand art master himself Paul Cezanne, throughout his career.
Most of these paintings can be found in first-class museum collections. These museums include the Musee D’Orsay in Paris and the Courtauld Institute of Art in London.
The Card Player, as it was gathered in 2012, was privately sold in 2011at a whopping sum of $250 million at that time. In addition, it was the most expensive painting ever sold in the world at that time.
5. Number 17A by Jackson Pollock
If you can recall, Ken Griffin bought two paintings from the collection of David Geffen. Well, the second one is the Number 17A. It was purchased at $200, remember. This masterpiece was a work of an abstract expressionist in the person of Jackson Pollock.
The painting took place in 1948 and featured an impressive combination of bold colors like yellow, red, and orange blue, with some splashes of black and white.
As with Interchange and one of the most expensive paintings in the world, it can also be seen at the Art Institute of Chicago, courtesy of the same great Mr. Griffin.
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6. Portrait of Marten Soolmans and Portrait of Oopjen Coppit by Rembrandt
The next most expensive Painting in the world on our list is the portrait of a couple. In 1634, Rembrandt painted the Protrait of Marten Soolmans and Portrait of Oopjen Coppit who were a couple.
Since they were a couple, it is wise that their portraits should always go together. They were jointly bought as a pair at the price of $180 million by two museums – the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and the Louvre in Paris, sold to them by the Rothschild family.
These two museums will take turns to display these invaluable paintings so that the public can have their eyes behold them.
7. Nu Couche by Amedeo Modigliani
Sold at $170,000 Nu Couche is the next most expensive painting in the world on our list. It is also known as the Red Nude or the Reclining Nude. It is a product of a 1917 oil-on-canvas painting by the famous Italian painter Amedeo Modigliani.
The painting is a flawless fusion of conventional romanticism and modern-day sensuality. This portrait of the naked woman who lies on the couch is considered erotically realistic although it is surreal.
For sure, it has the ability to catch the viewer off-guard but there is nothing crass about the stunning success. The picture was inspired by the Italian Renaissance and depicts Venus and other female figures with a modern twist.
Nu Couche, more importantly, highlights the nakedness of the female, establishing the purity of the woman who is not afraid to give or ask for physical pleasure.
8. Les Femme d’Alger (Version O) by Picasso
Worth $179.4 million and purchased in 2015, the work of art, Les Femme d’Alger Verson O set a record as one of the most expensive paintings in the world.
It was the zenith of a series of 15 works on Women of Algiers which were painted by Picasso and inspired by the 19th century Spanish great Eugene Delacroix. It is considered the most Picasso piece in the hands of private individuals and was sold at an auction.
Created in 1955 as the final work of Picasso, the painting and others in the series of 15 variations were conceived as an elegy to Picasso’s friend and rival Matisse who died in 1954.
It has been featured in Picasso’s retrospectives all over the world.
9. Salvator Mundi, attributed to Leonardo da Vinci
This painting is the most expensive painting in the world on our list and costs $450.3 million. It was supposedly painted by Leonardo da Vinci, although many critics believe otherwise.
Salvator Mundi depicts Jesus Christ dressed in Renaissance garbs and bestowing benediction. His right hand was raised with two fingers crossed while holding a crystal ball in his left hand.
The glass globe in his hand is a symbol of crystalline spheres of the heavens, evidence that Christ is the savior of the world and the master of the universe.
It was believed that Leonardo made this great painting as a conscious attempt to tie the spiritual and physical worlds together. It was also opined by art lovers that there are currently around 20 modifications of this masterpiece, the original work is lost.
The incredible Salvator Mundi was remarkably the last painting of Leonardo da Vinci, hence it is highly-priced.
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10. No:6 (Violet, Green and Red) by Mark Rothko
This masterpiece of Mark Rothko is one of Rothko’s great works as well as one of the most expensive in the world. It was sold at $186 million to the Russian businessman Dmitry Rybolovlev through an art dealer Yves Bouvier in 2014.
Despite the quality, the purchase of this work has got enmeshed in legal disputes since then. But it did not reduce the quality of the piece as one of the most expensive paintings in the world.
Rothko used a Spartan palette with the darkest shades at the top in the painting which depicts depression that weighed down his life.
He was a Russian-born American painter and a pioneer of abstract expressionism.
11. Masterpiece by Roy Lichtenstein
Masterpiece was the best-known work of Roy Lichtenstein and was produced in 1962. It was sold at $165 million. Being one of the most expensive paintings in the world, the Masterpiece features some classic elements of pop art like Ben-Day dots and speech balloons, set in a comic-strip narrative.
It is another enchanting piece and depicts a man, possibly Roy himself and a blonde woman, looking at a canvas but the content is not made visible to the viewer.
There is a speech bubble that proceeds from her mouth which shows that she is praising the ‘masterpiece’ in question and even calling it something that would get ‘all New York clamoring for his work’.
Masterpiece is considered a tongue-in-cheek joke that mirrors the artiste’s beautiful career.
12. Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II by Gustav Klimt
This painting by the talented Gustav made it to our list of the most expensive paintings in the world. It was among the paintings seized by the Nazis during the invasion in 1941.
It was later believed to be sold at $150 million by Oprah Winfrey to an unknown individual who was believed to be a Chinese billionaire.
This was after it was loaned to the Museum of Modern Arts in New York City.
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13. Le Reve by Pablo Picasso
It is not surprising that Picasso featured more than once on this list of most expensive paintings in the world. Le Reve, which means the dream was painted in 1932 and depicts Picasso’s mistress Marie-Therese Walter.
It was previously owned by Steve Wynn who agreed to sell it to Steven A Cohen in 2006 for $139 million.
Sadly, before the conclusion of the transaction, the painting was inadvertently damaged by Wynn. However, it was in due course repaired and luckily, Cohen was still interested in it. In 2013, Cohen paid for it at the price of $155 million.
Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, they say. These portraits are some of the most expensive paintings in the world. You may ask what their buyers saw in them to spend such a huge amount of money. Well, they saw beauty.