Last Updated: April 07, 2022
The history of art is vast and extraordinary. It has been ranging from classic to contemporary. The world has given us many great artists like Picasso and Leonardo da Vinci and the arts of these masters continue to auction every year and set new records.
There is no doubt that these amazing artworks found either in museums or in private collections around the world. These works are priceless and it is also difficult to put any price tag on these extraordinary works. But the art being sold and bought, the price isn’t affordable for all. While some billionaire art collectors look for a masterpiece to decorate their mansion, the others are investors who would love to resale it for making a handsome profit out of it.
Today we will talk about some of the top 30 most expensive and valuable paintings in the world and the list follows:
1. Salvator Mundi – Leonardo da Vinci
Price- $450.3 Million
The most expensive painting in the world is Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi that sold for $450.3 Million in 2017 at Christie’s. Before this sale, the painting was attracted by a myriad of owners.
The painting is a salvage project for being out of the public eye since 1958 and it has a long unknown history and hidden by numerous overpaints. The painting of Jesus holding a crystal orb represents the crystalline sphere. The painting has been bought by The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman and he bought it on behalf of the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture & Tourism.
2. Interchange – Willem de Kooning
Price- $300 Million
Willem de Kooning’s masterpiece is from 1955 that was inspired by his surroundings while he was living in New York City.
This masterpiece was sold in 2015 by the Davis Geffen Foundation and it was brought by Hedge fund billionaire, Kenneth C. Griffin. The masterpiece is currently displayed at the Art Institute of Chicago.
3. The Card Player – Paul Cezanne
Price- $250 Million
This is one of the five paintings of the French master, Paul Cezanne that was done in the 1890s and it features a pair of Provencal peasants who are seated at a table and involved in a card game while studying their hands.
The painting is also called human still life and it is also was poked fun by a New Yorker cartoon who depicted it as the subject of playing not for money but fruit. This painting was brought by the Royal Family of Qatar but it is not on public display but people can see other paintings of the painter at Philadelphia’s Barnes Foundation, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, etc.
4. Nafea Faa Ipoipo – Paul Gauguin
Price- $210 Million
The French post-impressionist, Paul Gauguin has gone for a trip to Tahiti and his trip has resulted in some amazing paintings of the native women of the place and this painting is also one of them that was done in 1892 in oil canvas. The meaning of the painting is When Will You Marry Me.
The painting was purchased by Sheikha Al-Mayassa of Qatar in the fall of 2014 with a cost of $210 million.
5. Number 17A – Jackson Pollock
Price- $200 Million
This painting was done by Jackson Pollock in 1948. The painting is not commanded an eye-popping price only. David Geffen has sold the painting to Citable billionaire Kenneth C Griffin and the critics demanded the painting as ridiculous and they also demanded that anyone can paint that kind of a mess. The meaning of American abstract painting could hardly be understood by many people.
This painting isn’t on public display but other works of Pollock can be seen in New York’s Museum of Modern Art, and Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art.
6. No. 6 (Violet, Green, and Red) – Mark Rothko
Price- $186 Million
The Russian-American abstract expressionist, Mark Rothko unbelievable masterpiece is known to be No. 6 which is a hallmark multiform painting with three rectangular blocks of contrasting yet complementary colors but this kind of painting isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But for that reason, the master’s profound work cannot be denied.
The sale of the painting has a remarkable incident that marked an alate chapter in the scandalous Bouvier Affair and this is an endless court battle between Russian tycoon, Dmitry Rybolovlev and his art dealer, Yves Bouvier where Dmitry claimed that Yves made him fooled and overcharged him for multiple paintings that Yves strongly denied.
7. Pendant Portraits of Maerten – Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit – Rembrandt
Price- $180 Million
The painting was done by the classic portraiture, Rembrandt who fetched the stratospheric sums. This painting was painted to celebrate the wedding of Maerten and Oopjen in 1634 but separate canvas. But the art historian and experts demanded that these masterpieces always should be displayed together and they should not be apart.
The paintings were brought by the Rijksmuseum and the Louvre as a joint venture in 2015 and each paid 50%.
8. Les Femmes d’Alger (“Version O”) – Pablo Picasso
Price- $197.4 Million
This painting was a part of the series of 1954-1955 by Pablo Picasso which is called Les Femmes d’Alger which means Women of Algiers. This is the last of 15 versions of the series that was considered to be the tribute to his friend, Henri Matisse. This one was the most expensive painting that was sold at auction for two years until the Salvator Mundi broke the record.
This piece was Picasso’s one of the boldest and most famous works from the series and it was in good condition at the time of sale. The painting was purchased by the former Prime Minister of Qatar, Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani at Christie’s in 2015.
9. Nu Couche – Amedeo Modigliani
Price- $170.4 Million
This painting is the most famous piece of Amedeo Modigliani and it was first publicly displayed at Modigliani’s solo exhibition in Paris in 1917. The painting depicts a naked woman on a red sofa. The exhibition was shut down by the police over charges of obscenity.
Later, the painting was at Christie’s New York auction in 2015 and it was purchased by a Chinese billionaire, Liu Yiqian and he made the transaction for the piece using his American Express Card.
10. Masterpiece – Roy Lichtenstein
Price- $164 Million
This piece has been inspired by the comic book illustration and was done by Roy Lichtenstein in 1962. It is considered to be one of the most expensive paintings in the world. This piece was called a tongue-in-cheek joke that displayed the artist’s own career. This painting stands along with Look Mickey and Whaam as his most notable works.
The painting was purchased by hedge-fund billionaire and art collector, Steven A. Cohen with the cost of $164 Million in 2017.
11. Nu Couch (Sur le cote gauche) – Amedeo Modigliani
Price- $157.2 Million
This piece was done in 1917 and it is one of the most notable works by Modigliani. The painting depicts a naked woman on a red sofa that became a record-breaking piece of art. It is very similar to the artist’s other painting, Nu couche but this one is bigger and also shows the entire figure of the female from head to toe.
This one is known to be bold and even scandalous when it was originally painted. The Chinese stock-market-billionaire, Liu Yiqian has purchased the art and displays it in his Shanghai museum in 2018.
12. Le Reve – Pablo Picasso
Price- $155 Million
This piece is Picasso’s most iconic painting and the piece of art is of Marie-Therese Walter who was known to be Picasso’s mistress. The painting was done in 1932 and the meaning of the term, Le Reve is The Dream.
The artwork was owned by Steve Wynn for 12 years. Wynn agreed to sell this piece to billionaire Steven A. Cohen for $139 million but he wanted to show it off to his few friends in his casino and while talking excitedly, he accidentally thrust his elbow through the painting that caused a six-inch tear and immediately the value of the painting was decreased to $55 million. But Wynn somehow managed to repair the piece and Cohen bought it in 2013.
13. Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II – Gustav Klimt
Price- $150 Million
The Austrian artist, Gustav Klimt has painted this impressionist, vivid portrait in 1912 and it was a portrait of an industrialist’s wife. The painting is one of the two formal portraits of Bloch Bauer.
Both of the portraits were looted by the Nazis in the time of World War II and it was then given to Vienna’s Galerie Belvedere museum post the war. After long years of battle, the artworks have regained the ownership of Bloch-Bauer in 2006 and it was sold to an unidentified buyer in China in 2016.
14. Three Studies of Lucian Freud – Francis Bacon
Price- $142.4 Million
This piece was done in 1969 by the Irish artist, Francis Bacon who painted his friend and artistic rival, Lucian Freud as a distorted figure in a cage. He painted the figure thrice in separate panels as a triptych. It was very bold but unsettling and strangely beautiful.
This piece was purchased by the ex-wife of casino mogul Steve Wynn, Elaine Wynn at Christie’s New York in 2013 for which she paid $142.4 million.
15. Qi Baishi, Twelve Landscape Screens, 1925
Price- $140.8 Million
The Chinese artist, Qi Baishi has done this piece in 1925 at the age of 62. He completed the piece with his style of using brush painting and calligraphy and that made it one of the most expressive pieces from his collection of works. It is the largest piece that he had created with its twelve landscape screens.
The lofty piece was sold at Beijing Poly Auction in 2017 and the selling price was $140.8 million that made Qi Baishi the first Chinese artist whose work of art sold at auction for more than $100 million.
16. No. 5, 1948 – Jackson Pollock
Price- $140 Million
This painting is comprised of the dripping of black, yellow, grey, and brown oil paint. It is considered to be the most iconic and chaotic piece that was done by Jackson Pollock in 1948.
The painting of Pollock that was sold to an unknown buyer in 2006, was not the original piece. But the following year, it was sold to a fellow artist, Alfonso A. Ossorio at a paltry $1500. The painting’s surface was damaged in Ossorio’s house and Pollock offered to repair it himself and ended up re-painting the whole thing.
17. Woman III – Willem de Kooning
Price- $137.5 Million
This one has been done by the Dutch expressionist Willem de Kooning in the early 1950s. This piece previously was hung in Iran’s Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art. But after the Iranian Revolution in 1979, the piece was deemed indecent and it was taken down.
Later, David Geffen acquired the work, and later in 2006, he ultimately sold it to hedge fund billionaire, Steven A. Cohen at the cost of $137. 5 million.
18. Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I – Gustav Klimt
Price- $135 Million
This painting has been done by the Austrian symbolist, Gustav Klimt, and this piece is known as The Lady in Gold. The portrait is of a Jewish banker’s wife that is done in 1907. The phase is known to be the artist’s celebrated Golden Phase.
The owner of the portrait is the billionaire, Ronald Lauder who brought it in 2006 at the cost of $135 million. She has displayed it permanently in New York’s Neue Galerie that he co-founded.
19. The Scream – Edvard Munch
Price- $119.9 Million
It is the most inspired and important piece of work that was done by the expressionist Edvard Munch in the early 20th Century. It is the most iconic and recognizable image of our time and Munch painted this one in a collection of 22 works that were exhibited in 1902 in Berlin. The paintings depict the range of love and loss to death and spirituality.
There are four versions of The Scream that Munch has titled The Scream of Nature initially. This art was purchased by billionaire financier, Leon Black in 2012, and the painting resides in its original frame inscribed by Munch with his poem that describes the painting.
20. Pablo Picasso, Young Girl with a Flower Basket, 1905
Price- $115 Million
The painting is a piece of art done by Pablo Picasso in 1905. The painting was formerly owned by Gertrude Stein and later it has been a part of the landmark sale of the collection of the late David and Peggy Rockefeller at Christie’s.
Young Girl with a Flower Basket was the fourth painting of Picasso that was sold for more than $100 million at an auction and that made him the first and only artist with more than one piece that sold at the level.
21. Reclining Nude With Blue Cushion – Amedeo Modigliani
Price- $118 Million
This piece was done by the Italian master, Amedeo Modigliani in 1917. It is one of the several series of nude female portrait that he is known for creating. Modigliani is well-known for his interesting character and behavior. He was self-destructive and often traded his paintings for drugs, drink, and food. He died at the age of 35 from tuberculosis.
This painting was bought by the Russian billionaire, Dmitry Rybolovlevn in 2012.
22. Claude Monet, Meules, 1890
Price- $110.7 Million
This piece of art is one of the most notable works of Claude Monet’s Haystack series and it is the most recognizable work from Monet’s oeuvre.
This piece achieved nearly twice its pre-sale estimate at Sotheby’s auction of Impressionist and Modern Art in New York in 2019. This piece has been surpassed the artist’s previous record for Nympheas en fleur that was sold for $84.6 million in 2018.
23. Untitled – Jean-Michel Basquiat
Price- $110.7 Million
The New York City’s graffiti artist, Jean-Michel Basquiat has painted this work in 1982 and it is a stick and spray painting of a skull. Basquiat is a subversive street artist who did spray painting cryptic epigrams on Manhattan walls and also was collaborated with Andy Warhol and dated Madonna. He has many prestigious works in galleries and museums.
This artist died in 1988 in a drug overdose and his piece of art was bought by a Japanese billionaire, Yusaku Maezawa in 2017 at Sotheby’s auction. This artwork hasn’t been displayed to the public in over 30 years till the time of 2017.
24. Pablo Picasso, Nude, Green Leaves and Bust, 1932
Price- $106.5 Million
This painting is more than 5-feet tall and it is a bold portrait of Picasso’s mistress, Marie Therese-Walter. The piece would have been lost forever if the artist’s friend and art dealer, Paul Rosenberg wouldn’t rescue it from Nazi looting during the time of World War II in the later 1930s. He rescued the painting and shipped it to New York from France.
This artwork has been sold at Christie’s auction in 2010 and it was bought the U.K.’s wealthiest man, Sir Leonard Blavatnik and he has loaned the painting to London’s Tate Modern gallery.
25. Andy Warhol, Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster), 1963
Price- $105.4 Million
This piece is a signed work of Andy Warhol’s Death and Disaster series, Silver Car Crash ad it became the highest-selling work of the artist that was sold in any auction.
This series depicts Andy Warhol’s engagement with the more serious subject matter and this painting has the silkscreen and sprays touch that also depicts a car crash scene. This art is a deviation from the soup that landed Warhol on the map. The painting was sold in Sotheby’s auction in 2013.
26. Pablo Picasso, Garcon a la pipe, 1905
Price- $104.2 Million
Pablo Picasso has painted this art at the age of 25 that depicts a Parisian boy. While the artist became one of the most well-known names in the art world, this piece of work might not be recognizable as his style at first glance. It doesn’t reflect the signature style of Picasso and also it doesn’t approach that he became associate with this as it was an art done by a young Picasso.
Apart from all of that, this piece depicts the early explorations of Cubist principals. This work was sold at Sotheby’s in 2004 at the cost of $104.2 million.
27. Roy Lichtenstein, Nurse, 1964
Price- $95.4 Million
This painting was done by Roy Lichtenstein in 1964 and this art was made on a four-foot square canvas and previously garnered with the cost of $1.7million at Sotheby’s in 1995. The artist has been known for his bold paintings with comic book-style themes.
The painting, Nurse is known to be the artist’s most expensive work that is ever sold in any auction and it was sold at Christie’s auction in 2015 at the cost of $95.4 million.
28. Pablo Picasso, Dora Maar au Chat, 1941
Price- $95.2 Million
This art by Pablo Picasso was done in 1941 and the painting depicts hos Parisian lover and it was one of the largest of his paintings that featured the sitter. In the painting, the bold colors ad angles can be seen and it also expressed the emotional era, the tension of World War II, and Nazi-occupied Paris.
The painting has been sold at Sotheby’s auction in 2006 at the cost of $95.2 million that made it the second-highest price paid at auction for a painting of Picasso.
29. Edward Hopper, Chop Suey, 1929
Price- $91.9 Million
This piece is undoubtedly the most iconic artwork by Edward Hopper. The piece shows the period of American history in which society was indulged at a rapid pace. Chop suey restaurants were very popular for the working-class people in the mid-1920s and the subject of the piece also represents a snapshot of American life.
In the painting, it was shown that the women are dining together in daylight that symbolized the evolving role of the women in the American workplace and it also depicts the newfound independence of the women beyond the domestic roles. The painting was sold at Christie’s auction in 2018.
30. David Hockney, Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures), 1972
Price- $90.3 Million
This painting came from two photographs in David Hockneys’ studio: one of which is a figure swimming underwater and another was someone looking at an object on the ground. The artist blended the images to achieve composition but after and reworking the piece several times, the initial work has been destroyed and Hockney returned to the concept again and made this piece in 1972.
It was sold at Christie’s auction in 2018 at the cost of $90.3 million making it the most expensive painting by a living artist that is sold at any auction.