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World Most Expensive Paintings


This is a list of the highest known prices paid for paintings. The earliest sale on the list (Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers by Vincent van Gogh) is from 1987, and more than tripled the previous record price, set only two years before, introducing a new era in top picture prices. The sale was also significant in that for the first time a "modern" painting (in this case from 1888) became the record holder, as opposed to the old master paintings which had always previously held it. Since that time sales of the most valuable paintings have usually been made at auctions, though that had by no means always been the case before, and the list below still shows some "private sales", including the five most expensive. The current record price was paid for The Card Players by Paul Cézanne, which was sold for more than $250 million in 2011

Background

The world's most famous paintings, especially old master works done before 1800, are generally owned or held at museums, for viewing for patrons. The museums very rarely sell them, and as such, they are quite literally priceless. Guinness World Records lists the Mona Lisa as having the highest insurance value for a painting in history. It was assessed at US$100 million on December 14, 1962, before the painting toured the United States for several months. However, the Louvre chose to spend the money that would have been spent on the insurance premium on security instead. Taking inflation into account, the 1962 value would be around US$772 million today.
The earliest sale on the list below (Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers by Vincent van Gogh) is from March 1987; with a price of £24.75 million ($82 million in current dollars) it tripled the previous record and introduced a new era in top art sales. Before this, the highest absolute price paid for a painting was £8.1 million ($23 million in current dollars) paid by the J. Paul Getty Museum for Mantegna's Adoration of the Magi at Christie's in London on April 18, 1985.[4] In constant dollars, the highest price paid before 1987 was by the National Gallery of Art when in February 1967 they acquired Leonardo da Vinci's Ginevra de' Benci for around $5 million ($35 million in current dollars) from the Princely Family of Liechtenstein. The sale of Van Gogh's Sunflowers was also significant in that for the first time a "modern" (in this case 1888) painting became the record holder, as opposed to the old master paintings which previously had dominated the market. In contrast, there are currently only six pre-1850 paintings among the top 43 listed.

Van Gogh and Picasso

Vincent van Gogh and Pablo Picasso are by far the best represented artists in the list. Whereas Picasso became a wealthy man, Van Gogh (supposedly) sold only one painting in his lifetime, The Red Vineyard, for 400 Francs (about $1600 in 2011) to the impressionist painter and heiress Anna Boch.[5] His seven paintings in the list below alone were sold for over 712 million current dollars.

List of highest prices paid at auctions or private sales (inflation adjusted)

This list is ordered by consumer price index inflation-adjusted value[note 1] (in bold) in millions of September 2013 United States dollars. Where necessary, the price is first converted to dollars using the exchange rate at the time the painting was sold. The inflation adjustment may change as recent inflation rates are often revised. A list in another currency may be in a slightly different order due to exchange rate fluctuations. Paintings are only listed once, i.e. for the highest price sold.
Adjusted price (in millions) Original price (in millions) Painting Image Artist Year Date of sale Rank at sale Seller Buyer Auction house
$269.4 $259 +[note 2] The Card Players Paul Cézanne 1892/93 April 2011 1 George Embiricos State of Qatar Private sale [1][2][3]
$162.7 $140 No. 5, 1948
Jackson Pollock 1948 November 2, 2006 1 David Geffen David Martinez Private sale via Sotheby's[6]
$159.8 $137.5 Woman III
Willem de Kooning 1953 November 18, 2006 2 David Geffen Steven A. Cohen Private sale via Larry Gagosian[7]
$155.9 $155 Le Rêve
Pablo Picasso 1932 March 26, 2013 4 Steve Wynn Steven A. Cohen Private sale[8]
$155.8 $135 Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I Gustav Klimt 1907 June 18, 2006 1 Maria Altmann Ronald Lauder, Neue Galerie Private sale via Christie's[9]
$149.5 $82.5 Portrait of Dr. Gachet Vincent van Gogh 1890 May 15, 1990 1 Siegfried Kramarsky family Ryoei Saito.[note 3] Christie's, New York
$142.4 $142.4 Three Studies of Lucian Freud
Francis Bacon 1969 November 12, 2013 7
Elaine Wynn, ex-wife of Steve Wynn [12] Christie's, New York [13]
$141.5 $78.1 Bal du moulin de la Galette[note 4] Pierre-Auguste Renoir 1876 May 17, 1990 2 Betsey Whitney Ryoei Saito[note 5] Sotheby's, New York
$129.0 $104.2 Garçon à la pipe Pablo Picasso 1905 May 4, 2004 3 Greentree foundation (Whitney family) Barilla Group?[14] Sotheby's, New York[15]
$122.2 $119.9 The Scream[note 6] Edvard Munch 1895 May 2, 2012 8 Petter Olsen Leon Black [16] Sotheby's, New York
$118.3 $110.0 Flag[note 7]
Jasper Johns 1954 March 2010 8 Jean-Christophe Castelli Steven A. Cohen Private sale, estimated price[17]
$114.3 $106.5 Nude, Green Leaves and Bust
Pablo Picasso 1932 May 4, 2010 7 Frances Lasker Brody estate
Christie's, New York[18]
$111 ++ $58 plus exchange of works[note 8] Portrait of Joseph Roulin Vincent van Gogh 1889 August 1, 1989 1 Private collection, Zürich Museum of Modern Art New York Private sale via Thomas Ammann, Fine Art Zurich[19]
$110.1 $95.2 Dora Maar au Chat
Pablo Picasso 1941 May 3, 2006 4 Gidwitz family Boris Ivanishvili[20] Sotheby's, New York[21]
$109.4 $53.9 Irises Vincent van Gogh 1889 November 11, 1987 1 son of Joan Whitney Payson Alan Bond[note 9] Sotheby's, New York
$108.1 $100.0 Eight Elvises
Andy Warhol 1963 October 2008 10 Annibale Berlingieri
Private sale via Philippe Ségalot[22]
$105.7 $105.7 (¥10,300) Anna's Light
Barnett Newman 1968 October 4, 2013 16 DIC Corp.
Private sale [23][24][25]
$105.4 $105.4 Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster)
Andy Warhol 1963 November 13, 2013 17

Sotheby's, New York [26]
$102.1 $87.9 Adele Bloch-Bauer II
Gustav Klimt 1912 November 2, 2006 9 Maria Altmann
Christie's, New York
$102.1 $71.5 Portrait de l'artiste sans barbe
Vincent van Gogh 1889 November 19, 1998 5 Heirs of Jacques Koerfer (de)
Christie's, New York
$99.7 $76.7 (£49.5) Massacre of the Innocents Peter Paul Rubens 1611 July 10, 2002 6 an Austrian family Kenneth Thomson[note 10] Sotheby's, London
$93.3 $86.3 Triptych, 1976
Francis Bacon 1976 May 14, 2008 13 Moueix Family, Château Pétrus[28] Roman Abramovich[29] Sotheby's, New York[30]
$92.8 $80.0 False Start
Jasper Johns 1959 October 12, 2006 10 David Geffen Kenneth C. Griffin Private sale via Richard Gray [31]
$92.6 $57 A Wheatfield with Cypresses
Vincent van Gogh 1889 May 1993 5 son of Emil Georg Bührle Walter H. Annenberg[note 11] Private sale via Steven Mazoh
$91.7 $49.3 (F300) Les Noces de Pierrette
Pablo Picasso 1905 November 30, 1989 3 Fredrik Roos (sv)[32] Tomonori Tsurumaki Binoche et Godeau Paris
$90.5 $47.85 Yo, Picasso
Pablo Picasso 1901 May 9, 1989 2 Wendell Cherry (de) Stavros Niarchos Sotheby's, New York
$90.1 $80.0 Turquoise Marilyn
Andy Warhol 1964 May 20, 2007 17 Stefan Edlis Steven A. Cohen Private sale via Larry Gagosian[33]
$88.8 $70.0 Portrait of Alfonso d'Avalos, Marquis of Vasto, in Armor with a Page Titian 1533 November 2003 10 AXA insurance company Getty Museum Private sale via Hervé Aaron[34][35]
$88.5 $86.9 Orange, Red, Yellow
Mark Rothko 1961 May 8, 2012 24 Estate of David Pincus
Christie's, New York[36]
$86.2 $80.5 (£40.9) Le Bassin aux Nymphéas Claude Monet 1919 June 24, 2008 20 J. Irwin and Xenia S. Miller
Christie's, London[37]
$85.2 $60.5 Rideau, Cruchon et Compotier[note 12] Paul Cézanne 1894 May 10, 1999 9 Whitney Family
Sotheby's, New York
$82.9 $39.7 (£24.75) Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers
Vincent van Gogh 1888 March 30, 1987 1 daughter-in-law of Chester Beatty Yasuo Goto, Yasuda Comp. Christie's, London
$82.0 $72.8 White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose)
Mark Rothko 1950 May 15, 2007 21 David Rockefeller, Sr. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani[39] Sotheby's, New York[40]
$80.8 $71.7 Green Car Crash (Green Burning Car I)
Andy Warhol 1963 May 16, 2007 22 Private collection, Zürich Philip Niarchos Christie's, New York[41]
$77.9 $70.6 (£50) Diana and Actaeon
Titian 1556–1559 February 1, 2009 26 Duke of Sutherland National Galleries of Scotland & National Gallery, London Private sale[42][43][44]
$77.7 $75 (€50-60) [note 13] Darmstadt Madonna
Hans Holbein 1526 July 12, 2011 29 Donatus, Hereditary Prince of Hesse Reinhold Würth Private sale via Christoph Graf Douglas[45]
$77.0 $68 The Gross Clinic
Thomas Eakins 1875 April 12, 2007 21 Thomas Jefferson University Philadelphia Museum of Art Private sale.[46]
$76.0 $75.1 No 1 (Royal Red and Blue)
Mark Rothko 1954 November 13, 2012 33 John and Anne Marion
Sotheby's, New York [47]
$75.7 $40.7 Au Lapin Agile
Pablo Picasso 1904 November 27, 1989 5 daughter of Joan Whitney Payson Walter H. Annenberg Sotheby's, New York
$75.0 $38.5 (£20.9) Acrobate et jeune arlequin[note 14]
Pablo Picasso 1905 November 28, 1988 3 heir of Roger Janssen? [note 15] Mitsukoshi Christie's, London
$74.0 $55.0 Femme aux Bras Croisés
Pablo Picasso 1902 November 8, 2000 13 McCormick family, Chicago
Christie's, New York[48]
$73.8 $69.0 Nude Sitting on a Divan ("La Belle Romaine")
Amedeo Modigliani 1917 November 2, 2010 32 Halit Cıngıllıoglu[49]
Sotheby's, New York[50]
$73.7 $63.5 Police Gazette[51]
Willem de Kooning 1955 October 12, 2006 20 David Geffen Steven A. Cohen Private sale via Richard Gray [31]
$73.2 $71.7 (£45) Diana and Callisto
Titian 1556–1559 March 2, 2012 36 Duke of Sutherland National Galleries of Scotland & National Gallery, London Private sale[52]
$69.3 $47.5 Peasant Woman Against a Background of Wheat
Vincent van Gogh 1890 1997 11
Steve Wynn[note 16] Private sale via Acquavella Galleries Inc., New York[54]
$69.0 $49.6 Femme assise dans un jardin
Pablo Picasso 1938 November 10, 1999 15 Robert Saidenberg[55]
Sotheby's, New York
$67.9 $65.5 (¥425.5) Eagle Standing on Pine Tree[56]
Qi Baishi 1946 May 22, 2011 38 Liu Yiqian Hunan TV & Broadcast Intermediary Co[57] China Guardian Auctions
$67.8 $63.4 Men in Her Life
Andy Warhol 1962 November 8, 2010 37 Jose Mugrabi
Phillips de Pury & Company[58]
$66.6 $35.2 Portrait of a Halberdier Pontormo 1537 May 31, 1989 5 Chauncey Devereaux Stillman Getty Museum Christie's, New York
$66.1 $60.0 Suprematist Composition Kazimir Malevich 1916 November 3, 2008 35 Heirs of Kazimir Malevich
Sotheby's, New York[59]
$64.4 $62.1 (¥402.5) Zhichuan Resettlement[60] Wang Meng 1350 June 4, 2011 42

Beijing Poly Auction
$63.9 $61.7 1949-A-No.1
Clyfford Still 1949 November 9, 2011 44 City and County of Denver
Sotheby's, New York[61]
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