Many consider fine art pieces to be priceless, one of a kind masterpieces that can’t possibly be recreated and so no amount of earthly money could put a value on them, whilst others might disagree for what is essentially paint on canvas. Still, with art collectors and dealears still making millions from paintings, and galleries insuring their most prized pieces for ridiculous sums, we look at the 10 most expensive paintings in the world.
1. Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci
Arguably the most famous piece of art in the world, the Mona Lisa has captured people’s attention with her piercing brown eyes and enigmatic half-smile that suggests a mischievous side to the model sitting for the portrait. Many would argue that a price could not be put on such a masterpiece but in 1962 the Louvre, the French museum where it currently hangs, insured it for $100m USD. By today’s prices that equates to around $700m USD this making it, by far, the most expensive painting in the world.
2. Interchange by Willem de Kooning
In 2015, the Interchange painting was sold between two private art collectors for around $300m USD. Usually, because such a transaction is a private one, the world would not know about the cost or get to see the painting because it would go into a personal collection. However, the buyer of the painting was a one Mr. Ken Griffin who happens to sit on the board of the Art Institue of Chicago and he has loaned the painting to them so that the public may view the masterpiece in all its glory.
3. Nafea Faa Ipoipo (When Will You Marry Me?) by Paul Gaugin
Paul Gaugin’s work that depicts to Tahitian women sitting in bright and bold surroundings was sold for around $300m USD in 2015, thus making it the most expensive painting ever to be sold alongside Interchange. To whom the sale was made to was never confirmed but many believe it is now in the possession of the Qatari royal family.
4. The Card Players by Paul Cezanne
There are a series of five The Card Players paintings produced by Cezanne over his career with the one produced in 1892-93 selling for $250m USD to the Qatari Royal family in 2011. Whilst this painting in the series now sits in a private collection, others are available to view around the world with both the Musée D’Orsay in Paris and theCourtauld Institute of Art in London having versions.
5. Number 17A by Jackson Pollock
The second painting bought by Mark Griffin at the same time of his Interchange purchase but this one was for the moderately lesser amount of $200m dollars. This has also gone on display at the Art Institute of Chicago where you can view this stunning drip painting from Pollock that he produced in 1948.
6. No. 6 (Violet, Green and Red) by Mark Rothko
Another abstract piece but this time by the Russian-American artist Mark Rothko. The piece was bought by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev for $186m USD in 2014 but Rybolovlev believes he was misled about the price of the piece and is currently in a legal dispute with art dealer Yves Bouvier. Still, what’s a few million dollars between friends?
7. Portrait of Marten Soolmans and Portrait of Oopjen Coppit by Rembrandt
The Dutch master Rembrandt painted portraits of this couple in 1634 and the paintings found their way into the private collection of the Rothschild family but eventually they decided to sell the portraits. Fittingly, because they are a couple, the portraits were bought together for $180m USD by the Louvre in Paris and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam who jointly own the pieces and alternate showings between them.
8. Les Femmes D’Alger (Version ‘0’) by Pablo Picasso
Inspired by the Eugen Delacroix painting The Wome of Algiers In Their Apartment, Pablo Picasso created a piece of colorful geometric shapes and painted 15 different versions of the painting. ‘Version 0’ is its final incarnation and was painted in 1955. Bought by a private collector in May 2015 for $179m USD, no one is quite sure who although speculation point to the former Prime Minister of Qatar, Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabar Al Thani.
9. Nu couche by Amadeo Modigliani
One of the most recognizable pieces of art in the world, it depicts a nude woman reclining on a red sofa and was painted in 1917-18. Bought by Chinese billionaire Lui Yiqian, he founded two private museums in Shanghai and paid for the $170.4 purchase with his American Express card.
10. No.5, 148 by Jackson Pollock
Another classic drip painting from Jackson Pollock, this was sold between private collectors in 20o6 and managed to garner $140m USD for its seller with the buyer remaining anonymous.