One and all have always appreciated art. Our history is full of painters who have created masterpieces one after another and have been hailed for their efforts. Creativity is priceless, and there are people in this world who are ready to spend money on a worthy name or a legendary masterpiece.
Art is one of the best investments in the world, and collectors are always on the look-out to find the most unique and expensive paintings. Some are tagged at a million whereas others cross 100 million marks easily.
These are masterpieces that are appreciated all over the world. During auctions, reputed families, museums and collectors bid handsomely to procure the collectible of their choice.
Most of the painters who had painted the most expensive paintings in the world are no more and will not be able to create another piece. It seems as if their rare and valuable paintings are part of a limited edition series hence the exorbitant prices.
A painting by masters like Picasso, Leonardo-da-Vinci and Van Gogh are in great demand, and if an item comes up for auction, it is grabbed like a tasty morsel in front of a hungry man.
There is a demand for private ownership, and they continue to change hands at unimaginable prices at auctions.
Table of Contents
#1. Salvator Mundi
Leonardo da Vinci is one of the most popular Italian origin painters of his time and the credit for Salvator Mundi goes to him. It was commissioned by King Louis XII of France and was at a later stage recorded in the collection of King Charles 1 of England.
The painting is highly valuable in the art community as it is one of the last works of the painter and has been in hiding for centuries.
The most expensive painting shows Jesus Christ dressed in clothes from the Renaissance period, holding a non-refracting and transparent crystal orb in his left hand and making the cross sign with his right hand bestowing benediction. The painting was a representation of his role as Salvator Mundi or Saviour of the world.
The masterpiece was created in the year c.1500 and was sold at an auction by Christie’s in New York in the year 2017, 15th November.
The deal was between Dmitry Rybolovlev and the buyer Prince Badr bin Abdullah for Abu Dhabi Department of Culture & Tourism. With a price tag of 450.3 million US dollars, Salvator Mundi is the most expensive paintings to be sold in the world.
Interchange is a work of genius that measures 200.7cm * 175.3 cm. It is a canvas painting on oil that was painted in the year 1955 by Willem de Kooning, a Dutch-American origin painter who dealt in abstract expressions. At 300 million US dollars, it is one of the most expensive paintings in the world.
The artwork Interchange was sold in the year 2015 at an auction. The buyer was Kenneth C. Griffin and the seller David Geffen Foundation. Currently, it is exhibited at Art Institute of Chicago where it has been kept on as a loan from the buyer.
The first impression of Interchange is that it is vague. When you start observing it with tooth and nail you will realize the various layers to the painting that symbolizes the painters own transition at that time.
It was one of the first abstracts of the painter and showed the change and shift in his style.
#3. The Card Players
At 250 million US dollars The Card Players is one of the most expensive paintings in the world. It was painted by French origin artist Cezanne during his later years in the early 1890s. The beautiful painting was sold at an auction in the year 2011 by George Embiricos to the State of Qatar.
Cezanne was a Post-Impressionist artist, and The Card Player is one painting amongst a series of five. All the versions are different in terms of setting, size and even the number of players.
The painting is of two male subjects intent on their game of cards in simplified settings without the drama depicted in the paintings of that period.
The subtle expressions on the stony-faced men as well as impressive detailing make this most expensive painting one of the best works from the painter.
#4. Nafea Faa Ipoipo (When Will You Marry)
Nafea Faa Ipoipo (When Will You Marry) is an oil painting that was sold in an auction in the year 2014. At a tag of 210 million US dollars, it is one of the most expensive paintings in the world and was sold by Rudolf Staechelin to the State of Qatar.
Before the auction, it was displayed at the Fondation Beyeler, Riehen in an exhibition and after its sale, it is currently on loan to the Kunstmuseum located in Basel.
The masterpiece was painted in the year 1892 by Post-Impressionist French origin artist Paul Gauguin on a dimension of 40 * 30 inches. Nafea Faa Ipoipo (When Will You Marry) is a fusion of two cultures European and Polynesian.
It shows two women, one wearing the missionary and the other native dress against a natural landscape.
It is a true depiction of the authenticity of a culture in a past area and was painted when the painter had escaped from conventional Europe to Tahiti to find his true self.
#5. Number 17A
Jackson Pollock is known for his abstract expressions, and Number 17A is a testimony to that fact. At 200 million dollars, it is one of the most expensive paintings in the world.
This painting was completed in the year 1948 and after changing few hands was sold to Kenneth C. Griffin by David Geffen Foundation in the year 2015.
One of the most expensive paintings Number 17A is an oil painting on fibreboard. At first glance, it seems like a mirage of colors and patterns, but the second look highlights the different layers of the painting. In the structure, you will be able to find his intentional artistic control and precise movement.
The artist has named his panting formally so that it does not distract the observer from the unique nature of the artwork. The painting was greeted with mixed reactions from the art world and did not gain its due recognition until it became one of the most expensive paintings in the world.
#6. Wasserschlangen II
At a price tag of 183.8 million US dollars, Wasserschlangen II has successfully entered the list of one of the most expensive paintings in the world. It was created between the years 1904 – 07 and was sold in the year 2013 from Yves Bouvier to Dmitry Rybolovlev.
Wasserschlangen II was painted by Austrian origin Gustav Klimt, a symbolist painter who is known for his murals, paintings, and sketches. He was fascinated by the female body, and some of his works depict eroticism.
#7. 6 (Violet, Green, and Red)
No. 6 (Violet, Green, and Red) was a masterpiece by abstract expressionist Mark Rothko. It was completed in the year 1951 and sold in the year 2015 in an auction. The buyer of this world-renowned painting was Dmitry Rybolovlev, and it was sold by Cherise Moueix.
No. 6 (Violet, Green, and Red) is an oil painting on canvas and includes a large spread of color defined by hazy and uneven shades. The artist was an American painter of Russian origin who loved to use bright colors.
The simple patterns without any subject were his signature style of conveying intimate message The painting is named No. 6 (Violet, Green, and Red) so that individual viewer can form his own impression and interpret it accordingly. The darkest shades are actually depicting the depression that became a part of his life.
#8. Pendant Portraits of Maerten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit
Pendant Portraits of Maerten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit is a pair of portraits by renowned artist Rembrandt.
It was completed in the year 1634 and sold in the year 2015 by Eric de Rothschild jointly to Rijksmuseum and Louvre as both contributed in half to its purchase. At 180 million dollars for the pair, it has gained entry into the list of most expensive paintings in the world.
Pendant Portraits of Maerten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit is a full-length wedding painting that was painted on the occasion of the wedding of both the subjects Marten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit. Interestingly both the subjects have been painted individually, and it is the paintings that are kept together to depict their wedding.
From then onwards, both the paintings have always been hung together no matter where.
#9. Les Femmes d’Alger (“Version O”)
At a price tag of 179.4 million US dollars, Les Femmes d’Alger (“Version O”) is one of the most expensive paintings in the world. The artwork is painted by renowned artist Pablo Picasso in the year 1955. It was part of a private collection and was sold to Hamad bin Jassim from Qatar by Christie’s in New York.
Les Femmes d’Alger (“Version O”) is an oil painting on canvas with dimensions 45 * 57.6 inches. It is the conclusion of a series that Picasso attempted on Women of Algiers. The work is considered fresh in its presentation and approach in spite of being a vintage style. The awe-inspiring canvas is a classic in vibrant colors.
#10. Nu Couche
Nu Couche is an oil painting on canvas with dimensions 24 * 36 inches that have gained immense popularity over the years in the art world.
It was painted by Amedeo Modigliani, an Italian origin painter in the year 1917-18 and was sold at Christie’s New York by Laura Mattioli Rossi to Liu Yiqian in the year 2015. At 170.4 million US dollars, it is one of the most expensive paintings to be sold in the world.
The painting is a fusion of sensuality and idealism and is considered one of the best works from Amedeo Modigliani. The painting is of a nude woman reclining on the couch, and it is her sublime beauty that catches the eyes of the audience.
Surprisingly the painting is not vulgar in spite of being nude but simply depicts an aroused woman who is ready for physical pleasure. It is a bold and carnal piece that has been reproduced innumerable times by artists.
At a price tag of 165 million US dollars, Masterpiece is one of the most expensive paintings to be sold in the art world. This pop-art painting in dimensions 54 * 54 inches has been painted by Roy Lichtenstein in the year 1962 and was sold by Agnes Gund to Steven A Cohen in the year 2017.
Roy Lichtenstein was known for relatable and realistic works, and his Masterpiece includes both speech balloons and Ben-Day dots in the comic-strip narrative. It was part of his first exhibition and was greeted with mixed reactions.
#12. Le Reve
At 155 million US dollars, Le Reve is no doubt one of the most expensive paintings in the world. It was painted in the year 1932 by renowned artist Pablo Picasso and was sold by Steve Wynn to Steven A. Cohen in the year 2013.
Le Reve is an oil painting on canvas with dimensions 51 * 38 inches. The artist painted his much younger mistress in the canvas and an erect penis in the upturned face of the model. The erotic content was supposedly painted in one afternoon.
#13. 5, 1948
No. 5, 1948 is one of the most popular works from American origin, Jackson Pollock. It was painted in the year 1948 and sold from a private collection of David Geffen to David Martinez in the year 2006. At a price tag of 140 million US dollars, it has entered the club of most expensive paintings in the world.
It is an oil painting on the fibreboard with dimensions 8 * 4 feet. The painting depicts the dripping technique in abstract-expressionist style. This was one of the favorite ways of a painting by the greatest painter of his time.
#14. Woman III
At 137.5 million US dollars Woman, III is one of the most expensive paintings in the world. It was painted by Willem de Kooning in the year 1953 and after changing several hands was sold by David Geffen to Steven A. Cohen in the year 2006.
Willem de Kooning was an abstract-expressionist painter, and this particular Woman III is a part of his six-painting series created between the years 1951 and 1953. It is an oil painting on canvas with dimensions 68 * 48.5 inches and depicts the main character of his series a woman.
Most expensive paintings are a favorite of billionaires, royal families and art collectors seeking a trophy piece as a testimony of their wealth.
Investors are also in line to make profits by reselling the product at a later stage. Commissioning artworks has always been a practice of wealthy and elite since earlier times when bankers and merchants used to provide funds to the workshops of great painters.
The constant increase in prices over the years has contributed heavily in their favor, and now art and collectibles are a favorite form of investment.