The 10 most expensive works of art ever sold

The world’s biggest art dealer, Larry Gagosian (of Gagosian Gallery fame), parted ways with a eye-watering $195 million this week.

In exchange, he is now the proud owner of Andy Warhol’s masterpiece “Shot Sage Blue Marilyn”, which has now become the most expensive work of American art – and art of the 20th century – never sold.

The 1964 work is a close-up portrait of Monroe, depicted with bright yellow hair, blue eyeshadow, and dark red lipstick against a blue background. It has been called “the absolute pinnacle of American pop and the promise of the American dream” by Alex Rotter, Christie’s president for 20th and 21st century art. While George Frei, chairman of the board of directors of the Thomas and Doris Amman Foundation, compared her “enigmatic smile” to “another mysterious smile of a distinguished lady, the Mona Lisa”.

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Previously held in the collection of Swiss art dealers Thomas and Doris Ammann, proceeds from their sale will go to their Zurich-based foundation, which works to establish healthcare and education programs for children around the world.

Christie’s wrote of the painting that it was “one of the rarest and most transcendent images in existence”, and originally listed it with a sale price “in the region” of 200 million. of dollars. The sale ended with a sale price of $170 million and rose to $195 million after taxes and fees.

In light of the groundbreaking sale, we’re counting down the 10 most expensive works of art ever sold.

10. Roy Lichtenstein’s Masterpiece – $190.5 million (adjusted for inflation)

In 1962, when the pop art genre was taking off in Britain and the United States, New York artist Roy Lichtenstein created this tongue-in-cheek painting. “Why, Brad darling, is this painting a masterpiece! My God, soon all of New York will be crying out for your work! says a speech bubble problem of a cartoon blonde woman in a car. Brad features in several of Lichtenstein’s paintings, and when asked about the figure in his art, Lichtenstein said he liked the name because it sounded both clichéd and heroic.

In January 2017, Agnes Gund sold the 1962 painting Masterpiece, which for years hung over the mantle of his Upper East Side apartment to billionaire hedge fund and avid art collector Steven A. Cohen for $165 million. Proceeds from the sale were used to launch a criminal justice reform fund called the Art for Justice Fund.

9. Reclining Nude by Amedeo Modigliani – $202.3 million (adjusted for inflation)

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The world’s most expensive nude was painted by Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani and sold for $170.4 million in 2015. Featuring a reclining nude woman against a mostly dark red background, it caused such hysteria during from its first presentation to the public in 1917 that the French police had to intervene. It was purchased by Chinese billionaire Liu Yiqian, a former taxi driver who founded two private museums in Shanghai and reportedly paid for the purchase in a single transaction with his American Express card.

8. The Women of Algiers (“Version O”) by Pablo Picasso – $212.9 million (adjusted for inflation)

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Cubist mastermind Pablo Picasso sold this striking angular work of art for $179.3 million at a Christie’s auction in May 2015. Throughout his career, Picasso painted 15 different versions of this particular work , each featuring a modified perspective. Some of the depictions are full of vibrant color and soft curves, while others recall his Cubist phase with sharp edges in shades of gray. They were inspired by Eugène Delacroix’s famous depictions of the Women of Algiers (1834 and 1849), which the Spanish artist had studied at the Louvre.

Produced in three months during the winter of 1954-55, O’ is his last version and is considered a tribute to his friend Henri Matisse. As with many works, the buyer has remained anonymous, but some people in the art world have suggested it was former Prime Minister of Qatar Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabar Al Thani.

7. Hanging Portraits of Maerten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit by Rembrandt – $213 million (adjusted for inflation)

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Painted by Rembrandt in 1634 to celebrate the marriage of Marten Soolmans and Portrait of Oopjen Coppit, the portraits were purchased for $180 – or $90 million each in 2015, making them the most expensive Old Master paintings in history. the story. As the two were married, art experts and historians agreed that the paintings should always be exhibited together and never separated.

So when the Rothschild family decided to sell these works, which are rarely exhibited to the public, two museums volunteered to acquire them. The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and the Louvre in Paris jointly purchased these two works by paying 50 percent each and are now taking turns presenting these precious paintings so that the public can finally enjoy them in person.

6. No. 6 (purple, green and red) by Mark Rothko – $222 million (adjusted for inflation)

Painted in 1951 by Russian-American painter Mark Rothko, abstract work No. 6. (Purple, Green and Red) sold privately in 2014 for $186 million, setting a record for the artist while still making it one of the most expensive paintings of all time. .

Known for his brightly colored rectangular-shaped canvases, Rothko’s painting was sold to Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, a sale facilitated by art dealer Yves Bouvier. Believing he was misled about the price of the work, Rybolovlev is now in conflict with his friend and adviser. The ongoing legal battle, which involves 32 other pieces and several other Bouvier clients, is known as the “Bouvier case” and has been going on since 2015.

5. Jackson Pollock’s Number 17A – $237 million (adjusted for inflation)

The American painter Jackson Pollock is a major figure in the abstract expressionist movement. His stunning piece “Number 17A” – a dripping, unique piece that pioneered the drip painting technique – led to an article in Life Magazine less than a year later titled : “Is he the greatest living painter in the United States?”.

The artwork was the second piece purchased in a $500 million deal by hedge fund manager Kenneth C Griffin in 2015 (spoiler alert: the other is listed below). The painting, which sold for $200 million, is currently on display at the Art Institute of Chicago.

4. Nafea Faa Ipoipo by Paul Gauguin – $254 million (adjusted for inflation)

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Nafea Faa Ipoipo translates to “When are you getting married?” and is a 1982 oil painting by Paul Gauguin. The leading Post-Impressionist painter visited Tahiti twice, his first in 1891 after separating from his wife and facing financial difficulties given the unpopularity of his art. He had the idea of ​​making the trip to paint the illustrations for the most popular novel of the time, Les Noces de Loti by Pierre Loti. Depicting two seated women in a colorful landscape of gold, green and blue, the work sold in 2015 at a private sale for around $210 after two years of negotiation.

Although the buyer is unconfirmed, many in the art world believe it is now owned by the Qatari royal family.

3. The Card Players by Paul Cézanne – $301.1 million (adjusted for inflation)

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The Card Players of 1892-1893 is one of a series of five produced by French post-Impressionist painter Paul Cézanne throughout his career. The majority of his pieces are held in world-renowned museum collections, such as the Musée d’Orsay in Paris and the Courtauld Institute of Art in London. However, this one was sold to the royal family of Qatar in 2011 for $210 million. They would have paid double the existing record for any artwork sold at auction, making it – at the time – the most expensive painting ever sold.

2. Exchange by Willem de Kooning – $356.1 million (adjusted for inflation)

An oil painting by the famous Dutch-American abstract expressionist painter Willem de Kooning. The large-scale work, measuring 200.7 by 175.3 centimeters, was sold in September 2015 for US$300 million. That’s $356.1 million on today’s dollar. The 1955 coin was inspired by his surroundings while living in New York and was purchased by hedge fund billionaire Kenneth C Griffin who purchased it along with his purchase of Jackson Pollock Number 17A, in the under a $500 million deal.

While many works by private buyers often go into private collections, not allowing public access, Griffin, who serves on the board of trustees of the Art Institute of Chicago, loaned Interchange to the museum so that anyone who wants to see it can do that.

1. Salvator Mundi by Leonardo da Vinci – $519.6 million

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Widely known as “Lost Leonardo”, the painting was commissioned by King Louis XII of France in 1605 but disappeared from all records between 1763 and 1900. However, in 2005 a group of British art dealers rediscovered it in 2005 and bought the painting for $10,000. .

They then spent six years investigating and restoring it before announcing it was an original, making it da Vinci’s first find since 1909. In 2013, they sold the works for a Swiss merchant and self-styled “king of the free port”. Yves Bouvier for a price believed to be between $75 million and $80 million, who then turned the job over to Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev for $127.5 million. The colossal increase made it one of the pieces involved in the Bouvier Affair.

While the art world is divided over whether this is the actual work of Leonardo da Vinci or one of his skilled apprentices, in 2017 it was sold for $450 million at a Christie’s auction to the Crown of Saudi Arabia, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud. . The painting was supposed to be exhibited at the Louvre Abu Dhabi, but it was later cancelled. According to the Wall Street Journal, it was held on a Saudi prince’s yacht and reserved for display at the future Saudi cultural center in Al Ula.

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