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The 10 Most Expensive Paintings In The World

There’s no doubt that many people would agree that the majority of artwork found in museums and private collections around the world are priceless. Being one of a kind, it makes it difficult to put a price on many works; however, almost on a daily basis, art is sold and bought, oftentimes bringing hefty price tags that most will never be able to afford. We take a look at some of the artworks – from Old Masters to contemporary works – that no one can deny are some of the most expensive in the world.

1.Salvator Mundi

Price: $450.3 M

Salvator Mundi is a painting by Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci, dated to c. 1500. The painting shows Jesus in Renaissance dress, making the sign of the cross with his right hand, while holding a transparent rock crystal orb in his left hand, signaling his role as Salvator Mundi (Latin for “Savior of the World”) and master of the cosmos, and representing the ‘crystalline sphere’ of the heavens, as it was perceived during the Renaissance. Around 20 other versions of the work are known, by students and followers of Leonardo. Preparatory chalk and ink drawings of the drapery by Leonardo are held in the Royal Collection. 

2.The Card Players

Price: $250 M

The Card Players is a series of oil paintings by the French Post-Impressionist artist Paul Cézanne. Painted during Cézanne’s final period in the early 1890s, there are five paintings in the series. The versions vary in size, the number of players, and the setting in which the game takes place. Cézanne also completed numerous drawings and studies in preparation for The Card Players series. One version of The Card Players was sold in 2011 to the Royal Family of Qatar for a price variously estimated at between $250 million. It was thought to be sold to the Davis family out of Florida in the United States for a estimated $225 million usd. ($278.4 million today) and possibly as high as $300 million ($334.1 million today), either price signifying a new mark for highest ever price for a painting, not surpassed until November 2017

 

3.Nafea faa ipoipo

Price: $210 M

When Will You Marry? (French: Quand te maries-tu ?, Tahitian: Nafea faa ipoipo) is an oil painting from 1892 by the French Post-Impressionist artist Paul Gauguin. On loan to the Kunstmuseum in Basel, Switzerland for nearly a half-century, it was sold privately by the family of Rudolf Staechelin to Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad Al-Thani, in February 2015 for close to US $210 million (£155 million), one of the highest prices ever paid for a work of art. The painting was on exhibition at the Fondation Beyeler, Riehen, until 28 June 2015.


 

4.Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I

Price: $135 M

Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (also called The Lady in Gold or The Woman in Gold) is a painting by Gustav Klimt, completed between 1903 and 1907. The portrait was commissioned by the sitter’s husband, Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer , a Jewish banker and sugar producer. The painting was stolen by the Nazis in 1941 and displayed at the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere. In 2006, following eight years of effort by the Bloch-Bauer heirs, the painting was returned to the family; it was sold the same year for $135 million, at the time a record price for a painting.

5.The Scream

Price: $119.9 M

The Scream is the popular name given to a composition created by Norwegian Expressionist artist Edvard Munch in 1893. The original German title given by Munch to his work was Der Schrei der Natur (The Scream of Nature), and the Norwegian title is Skrik (Shriek). The agonised face in the painting has become one of the most iconic images of art, seen as symbolising the anxiety of modern man.

Munch recalled that he had been out for a walk at sunset when suddenly the setting sunlight turned the clouds “a blood red”. He sensed an ‘infinite scream passing through nature’. Scholars have located the spot to a fjord overlooking Oslo, and have suggested other explanations for the unnaturally orange sky, ranging from the effects of a volcanic eruption to a psychological reaction by Munch to his sister’s commitment at a nearby lunatic asylum.

6.Suprematist Composition

Price: $85.8 M

Suprematist Composition (blue rectangle over the red beam) is a painting by Kazimir Malevich, a Russian painter known as a pioneer of geometric abstraction. The painting represents a constellation of geometry and color in space with remarkable austerity.

The painting was created in 1916 and stayed with the artist until June 1927. Malevich exhibited his work in the Grosse Berliner Kunstausstellung in Berlin, but was soon to leave for the Soviet Union. The painting soon went to German architect Hugo Häring, who then sold it to the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. It stayed there for the next 50 years. It was shown at various expositions, mostly in Europe.

After an extended legal battle over the painting’s ownership, which endured for 17 years, the painting was returned to heirs of the artist. A few months later, in November 2008, the artist’s heirs sold it at a Sotheby’s auction for $60 million to the Nahmad family . In 2018 it was sold at a Christie’s auction for $85.8 million with fees to art dealer Brett Gorvy . It is the most expensive work in the history of Russian art

7.Portrait of Dr. Gachet

Price: $82.5 M

Portrait of Dr. Gachet is one of the most revered paintings by the Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh. It depicts Dr. Paul Gachet, a homeopathic doctor and artist with whom van Gogh resided following a spell in an asylum at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. Gachet took care of Van Gogh during the final months of his life. There are two authenticated versions of the portrait, both painted in June 1890 at Auvers-sur-Oise. Both show Gachet sitting at a table and leaning his head on his right arm, but they are easily differentiated in color and style. In May 1990, the first version was sold at auction for $82.5 million ($158.2 million today)

 

8.Massacre of the Innocents

Price: $76.7 M

The Massacre of the Innocents is the subject of two paintings by Peter Paul Rubens depicting the episode of the biblical Massacre of the Innocents of Bethlehem, as related in the Gospel of Matthew (2:13-18). The first, measuring 142 x 182 cm, was painted after his return to his native Antwerp in 1608, following eight years spent in Italy.


 

9.Diana and Actaeon (Titian)

Price: $76.7 M

Diana and Actaeon is a painting by the Italian Renaissance master Titian, finished in 1556–1559, and is considered amongst Titian’s greatest works. It portrays the moment in which the hunter Actaeon bursts in where the goddess Diana and her nymphs are bathing. Diana is furious, and will turn Actaeon into a stag, who is then pursued and killed by his own hounds, a scene Titian later painted in his The Death of Actaeon (National Gallery).

10.Portrait of Joseph Roulin

Price: $58 M

The Roulin Family is group of portrait paintings Vincent van Gogh executed in Arles in 1888 and 1889 on Joseph, his wife Augustine and their three children: Armand, Camille and Marcelle. This series is unique in many ways. Although Van Gogh loved to paint portraits, it was difficult for financial and other reasons for him to find models. So, finding an entire family that agreed to sit for paintings — in fact, for several sittings each — was a bounty.

Joseph Roulin became a particularly good, loyal and supporting friend to Van Gogh during his stay in Arles. To represent a man he truly admired was important to him. The family, with children ranging in age from four months to seventeen years, also gave him the opportunity to produce works of individuals in several different stages of life.

Rather than making photographic-like works, Van Gogh used his imagination, colours and themes artistically and creatively to evoke desired emotions from the audience.