10 Of the World’s Most Expensive Paintings Ever Sold


Summer 2024

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A captivating painting grabs your attention and stirs your emotions. How much are you willing to pay for an intriguing piece? For some collectors, the sky’s the limit. 

Each year auction houses, and private galleries see record-breaking sales for masterpieces by Leonardo da Vinci and Rembrandt, and 20th-century visionaries like Pablo Picasso. Many works of art are priceless because of their artistic value, which far exceeds their monetary value. 

Below we peek at some of the most expensive pieces ever sold and see how far some art connoisseurs were willing to pay for some of the world’s masterpieces.

Salvator Mundi by Leonardi da Vinci-$450 million

At a Christie’s auction in New York, a painting by Leonardo da Vinci called Salvator Mundi, meaning Saviour of the World, attributed to the Renaissance period, was sold for a little over 450 million. The painting depicts Christ in blue Renaissance garb holding a crystal orb on his left hand, signaling his role as the saviour representing the celestial sphere. 

Interchange by Willem de Kooning-$300 million

The 1955 abstract oil painting by Dutch American artist Willem de Kooning marks the artist’s transition to abstract art. Kooning is known for his shaped abstract expressionist style with his gestural works based on figures, landscapes, and still life. The principal point of the piece is the pink centre, which represents a woman reclining in a busy background. 

The Card Players by Paul Cezanne-$250 million

The card players are a series of oil paintings by French impressionist artist Paul Cezanne. The paintings depict peasants immersed in their pipes and playing cards. While most paintings in the series are displayed at museums around the world, one of them was bought by the royal family of Qatar for 250 million.

Nafea Faa Ipoipo? by Paul Gaugin-210 million

Translated to “When Will You Marry?” the Tahitian-inspired painting depicts a native young woman donning a white flower with her mother surrounding her protectively. French impressionist artist Paul Gaugin created the painting. A Swiss businessman sold the painting to a Qatari buyer for $210 million in 2015. 

Number 17 A by Jackson Pollock-$200 million

Featuring a kaleidoscope of colours across a fiberboard canvas, Number 17A is an abstract painting by American abstract artist Jackson Pollock. Pollock’s technique uses paint poured over a canvas laid on the floor to convey emotion through movement. The artwork was sold to a billionaire by the David Geffen Foundation.

The Standard-Bearer by Rembrandt-$198 million

Considered one of Rembrandt’s most vibrant masterpieces, The Standard Bearer is a 1636 self-portrait of Rembrandt. It is one of his most prized masterpieces. The Rothschild family purchased the painting from King George IV of England. The Dutch government later bought it for $198 million and displayed it at a local museum. 

Shot Sage Blue Marilyn by Andy Warhol-$195 million

The 1964 work of art is one of Warhol’s most popular. It was sold at Christie’s in New York for $ 195 million. Warhol created the five-part series painting using a silkscreen technique and a cropped publicity photo. The series was inspired and named after performance artist Dorothy Podber.

No.6 (Violet, Green, and Red) by Mark Rothko-$186 million

Featuring large expanses of violet and red separated by a green banner. No.6 is a 1951 abstract painting by Latvian American artist Mark Rothko. The piece was sold privately in 2014 for $186 million, a new record for the artist.

Water Serpents II by Gustav Klimt- $ 183 million

The oil painting by Austrian symbolist painter Gustav Klimt symbolizes the sensuality of women’s bodies. The lavishly decorated piece has a rich heritage. History has it that the Nazis stole the painting in World War II. In 2015 the piece reappeared in the public eye and was put up for auction. It was sold to an undisclosed buyer for $170 million in 2013. 

Francis Bacon Triptych- $142 million

In 2013 a painting by Irish-born artist Francis Bacon painted in 1969, was sold at a Christie’s auction for 142.1 million dollars, making it one of the most expensive works of art sold at an auction. The painting depicts Lucian Freud Bacon’s friend and rival perched on a wooden chair. 

David Messiha | Staff Writer 

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