Here are the 10 most expensive paintings to ever be sold at an auction. There are a lot of websites displaying “the 10 most expensive paintings ever sold” or similar lists. Unfortunately, many of these lists are incorrect, often being obsoletes, often ignoring the private sales and showing only those pictures sold at auctions. This site will also be updated once new paintings are sold and news will be relayed to you.
10. Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster)
Value: $105.4 million
The Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster) is a painting that was painted by American artist Andy Warhol. Warhol was a leader in the visual arts movement, called the pop art. His work touched upon and highlighted the relationship between artistic expression, celebrity culture, and advertisement. He was also the person who coined the term “15 minutes of fame”. The painting sold for $105 million at an auction in November of 2014.
9. Nude, Green Leaves and Bust
Value: $106.5 million
This 1932 Pablo Picasso painting of one of his mistresses sold at Christie’s auction for $106.5 million to an anonymous bidder in 2010. The presale value of the painting ranged from $70 million to $90 million. Before being sold, it was part of the personal collection of Sidney and Frances Brody for almost 60 years. The woman featured in the painting is Marie-Thérèse Walter, aka. the mistress. Picasso demonstrated astonishing artistic talents when he was an adolescent and young adult, painting mostly in a realistic manner, which was very unusual for that time period. During the early part of 20th century, his style changed as he experimented with different theories, techniques, and ideas. His work is mainly categorized into periods, as a result. Another one of his famous paintings was the Guernica.
Value: $110 million
SAC Capital Advisors founder Steven Cohen purchased this famous hot wax painting of the American flag for $110 million and is expanding on his ever-impressive private art collection already. The painting was purchased from Jean Cristophe Castelli and has been loaned out to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Arts for several years. This is not the first time Cohen bought such an expensive painting. In 2006, he bought a Willen de Kooping painting for $137.5 million. In 2007, he paid another $80 million for an Andy Warhol portrait of Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn Monroe still has her groove over 50 years after her death, i guess.
7. The Scream
Value: $119.9 million
This very expensive painting ‘The Scream’ is one of the most recognizable images of Edward Munch, who happened to be an expressionist artist in the 19th century. It was sold at an auction in 2012 for $119.9 million. There are 4 deviations to this painting that was collectively designated the famous name “The Scream of Nature”. This painting specifically signifies a sketch that has expressions of pain and misery and is a symbol of contemporary art. It was also considered a plum as much for its rarity as well as for its pop-culture ubiquity.
6. Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I
Value: $135 million
Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer is a painting made from gold and oil canvas by Gustav Klimt in 1907. It was the first of two done by the artist of the subject – Block-Bauer and it took him 3 years to complete. It was the final and one of most impressive pieces of his golden phase. The painting sold for $135 million to Ronald Lauder for his gallery in NYC in 2006. This artwork was referred to by Gregor Collins in his memoirs, “The Accidental Caregiver: How I Met, Loved, and Lost Legendary Holocaust Refugee Maria Altmann”.
5. Woman III
Value: $137.5 million
American billionaire Steven A. Cohen, who has a personal art collection that may be considered one of the most expensive in the world, added a new masterpiece when it scooped a Willem de Kooning painting from David Geffen for $137.5 million. De Kooning is known for his Women series which is six in total, five of which are in world-class museums and only the Woman III is privately owned by Cohen.
4. No. 5, 1948
Jackson Pollock and his work of art is no stranger to high bids at auction, and his Number 5 is no exception. In November of 2006, Number 5, painted in Pollock’s unique drip technique, was sold for $140 million dollars. This price exceeded both the high price paid for his Blue Poles, which sold in 1973, as well as Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I. Using his entire body to paint in a method called “action painting,” Pollock dripped and splattered layer upon layer of paint to paint this chaotic image. It was sold to David Martinez, the Mexico-born founder of the London-based Fintech Advisory Ltd.
3. Three Studies of Lucian Freud
Value: $142 million
It is oil on canvas artwork divided in three sections that was done b British painter Francis Bacon in 1969, depicting artist Lucian Freud. Three Studies of Lucian Freud is a modern work of art which illustrates a man sitting on a wooden chair with an orange background. It was sold to an unnamed client for $ 142.4 million in November 2013. The 2013 sale represents the highest price paid for a work by a British artist, beating Bacon’s Triptych 1976, which sold for $86.3 million in May 2008. If you thought that Bacon and Freud were friends, you thought wrong. They were actual rivals – civil rivals in actuality.
2. Le Reve
Value: $155 million
Le Reve is oil on canvas painting done by Pablo Picasso in 1932. It is one of the most erotic and popular paintings of Picasso’s admirer Marie-Therese Walter, who was 22 years old at the time. The painting depicts her sitting on an armchair with closed eyes. This painting is of the period when he portrayed serpentine sketches with distinct colors and simplistic outlines that give an image of early Fauvism. Casino holder Steve Wynn decided to sell this painting to an artwork collector Steven Cohen in 2006, but the deal fell through, due to the accidental damage to the portrait by Steve Wynn. Because of the great interest of Cohen in it, this painting was sold to him after being superbly repaired for $155 million in March 2013. The erotic content of the painting has been widely criticized. Many critics pointed out that Picasso painted a “shaft”, presumably symbolizing his own.
1. The Card Players
Value: $259 million
This painting by Paul Cézanne happens to be the most expensive painting in the world, sold for $259 million in 2011. The painting, which is part of a 5 part series, is considered to be the foundation of Cézanne’s art during the early-to-mid 1890s period, as well as an introduction to his final years, when he painted some of his most acclaimed work. The models for the paintings were local farmhands, some of whom worked for the Cézanne family on their estate, the Jas de Bouffan.