Top 10 most expensive paintings of all time

Art masterpieces are worth millions of dollars and the recent headlines of the painting ‘The Scream’ that was auctioned off makes it one of the most expensive paintings of all time. However, it must be noted that Munch’s masterpiece is not THE most expensive painting of all time but is the most expensive painting sold in an auction.

Below are the 10 most expensive paintings of all time. This list covers only the paintings that were sold off recently and that are why it did not include Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa which was assessed at $100million in 1962. If the current inflation and appreciation rate are considered, it would be more than $750million at present time and that is the same for the other works like ‘Madonna on the Rocks’ and the like.

At the pinnacle of the list is Paul Cezanne’s ‘The Card Players’ painted in 1892/93 which is valued at $250 million. The painting was most recently sold for a quarter of a billion by George Embiricos to the Royal Family of Qatar. This is the last version of Cezanne’s work which is still in private hands that featured the psychological intensity of the card players’ faces.

The second most expensive painting of all time is ‘Number 5, 1948’ from Jackson Pollock. The 1948 masterpiece features the signature ‘drip’ techniques made popular by Pollock and it remains as the most expensive contemporary painting very sold. The value of $140 million is just an estimate as the final amount was never confirmed which was sold by music tycoon David Geffen in 2006.

Geffen is also the seller of the third most expensive painting when he sold the ‘Woman III’ by Willem de Kooning to Steven Cohen in 2006 for $137.5 million. This is also the only Kooning’s ‘Woman’ works which remains in private hands. Gustav Klimt’s ‘1907 ‘Adele Bloch-Bauer I’ was bought by Ronald Lauder in 2006 for $135 million, making it the fourth most expensive painting which is part of the 5 paintings confiscated by the Nazis during World War II.

At number 5 is the iconic ‘The Scream’ by Edvard Munch. The price of $119.9 million for the 1895 work was auctioned by Sotheby’s New York in May 2012 to an anonymous buyer and is the only piece among the four which remains in private hands.

At $106 million, Pablo Picasso’s 1932 painting entitled ‘ Nude, Green Leaves and Bust’ is the sixth most expensive painting which was auctioned off by Christies’ New York in May 2010. When sold, it was the first time the painting was seen in public since 1961 when it was from the Mrs Sidney F Brody’s collection before that. Picasso’s ‘Garcon a la Pipe’, which he painted in 1904 is the next most expensive painting which was auctioned by Sotheby’s New York in 2004 to an anonymous buyer. The painting was sold for $104.1 million which at that time broke the record for art sold in auctions.

Before Picasso’s ‘Garcon a la Pipe’, the record was held by Vincent van Gogh since 1990 and it was also the first time that a painting was sold for more than $100million. Rumour has it that the painting was bought by Guido Barilla although it has not been confirmed.

No list is complete without the pop icon Andy Warhol as his ‘Eight Elvises’, one of the most legendary paintings of all time is at number eight. The value that it was sold off was at $100million through a private deal. The 12 feet long painting was previously in the collection of Annibale Berlingieri, a Roman collector for more than 40 years when it broke Warhol’s previous record when it was sold for $100million. Before that, the most expensive Warhol’s painting was the ‘Green Car Crash (Green Burning Car I)’ painting which was sold by Christies’ New York the year before for $71.7million.

The 1941 ‘Dora Maar Au Chat’ masterpiece by Pablo Picasso is the ninth most valuable art work when it was sold in May 2006 to anonymous buyer for $95.2 million. This was the painting of Maar who was one of Picasso’s favourite models. She met Picasso in 1930 and they had a relationship for the next 16 years. This painting was only recently rediscovered and authenticated by Maya Widmaier Picasso, the artist’s daughter.

And at the tenth place is the painting ‘Diana and Actaeon’ by Titian made between 1556 and 1559. The painting was valued at $91 million through a private sale in February 2009. This is considered to be one of the most beautiful paintings that exuded the ‘painted poetries’ which has a ‘sister’ artwork entitled ‘Diana and Callisto’ which was most recently sold for $72million in 2012. This painting was sold to the United Kingdom where it was formerly at the collection of the Duke of Sutherland.


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