Salvator Mundi--Leonardo da Vinci
Experts have debated whether or not this is an authentic painting of Leonardo da Vinci, but that didn’t seem to stop the excitement of art buyers when this painting went up for auction. It sold for an unbelievable $450.3 million in 2017.
Nafea Faa Ipoipo (When Will You Marry?)--Paul Gauguin
Paul Gauguin’s painting of Tahitian women spent decades in a museum before finally being sold. When it was auctioned off in 2015 it fetched a jaw-dropping $210 million--making it one of the most expensive paintings of all time.
The Card Players--Paul Cézanne
They may just be playing cards, but Paul Cezanne’s card players are worth a lot more than they may look like. The painting was bought by the Qatar royal family in 2011 for $250 million, which, at the time, was double the price of the next most expensive artwork.
Les Femmes D’Alger--Pablo Picasso
Picasso’s Les Femmes D’Alger held the record for most expensive painting sold for nearly two years, which is pretty impressive for the art world. It sold for $197.4 million at auction.
No. 5, 1948--Jackson Pollack
Anyone can splatter paint on a canvas, but only Jackson Pollock can bring in the big bucks for doing it. The buyer still remains a bit of a mystery, but whoever it was paid $140 million dollars for it in 2006.
Woman III--Willem de Kooning
She doesn’t look like any lady I’ve ever seen, but apparently Willem de Kooning knew what he was doing when he painted Woman III. It was auctioned off for $137.5 million after its previous owner, the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, decided it was obscene.
Le Rêve--Pablo Picasso
Picasso has several iconic paintings, but Le Reve is one of his most well known. Despite an accidental tear in the canvas from its previous owner, the painting was able to be restored and was sold for $155 million in 2013.
Twelve Landscape Screens--Qi Baishi
Qi Baishi was famous for his artwork involving calligraphy and delicate brush strokes, and his Twelve Landscape Screens exemplifies his technique beautifully. The paintings were sold for $140.8 million in 2017--making him the first Chinese artist to have a piece auctioned for more than $100 million.
The Scream--Edvard Munch
Even people outside the art world are aware of Munch’s The Scream, so it should come as no surprise that this iconic painting fetched a hefty price tag at auction. It sold for $119 million in 2012.
Portrait of Dr. Gachet--Vincent van Gogh
Portrait of Dr. Gachet was one of van Gogh’s final works and is still one of his most famous. Interestingly enough, the painting depicts the doctor who unsuccessfully treated van Gogh in his last years. The portrait sold in 1990 for $82.5 million.
L'Homme Au Doigt--Alberto Giacometti
This sculpture might look like the work of a cave man, but it was actually created in 1945 by Alberto Giacometti. For reasons unbeknownst to me, this thing sold for $141.3 million.
Balloon Dog--Jeff Koons
Jeff Koons' orange balloon dog was not one of a kind--he actually made this sculpture in five different shades. However, the orange version attracted the most popularity and was sold for $59.4 million.
Young Girl with a Flower Basket--Pablo Picasso
This 1905 painting by Pablo Picasso has had several famous owners throughout the years--including Gertrude Stein and the Rockerfellers. After David Rockerfeller’s death, the painting was auctioned off for $115 million.
Meules by Claude Monet might just be a painting of some hay bales, but it still managed to fetch a surprising price at auction. In 2018, it was sold for $84.6 million--nearly twice as much as experts believed it would be sold for.
Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster)--Andy Warhol
Silver Car Crash took the iconic Andy Warhol style and gave it a disturbing twist. This silkscreen print of a car crash went for $105.4 million dollars in 2013.
Three Studies of Lucian Freud--Francis Bacon
For a fleeting moment, Francis Bacon’s paintings of artist Lucian Freud (grandson of Sigmund) were the highest-selling artworks in the world, going for $142 million dollars at auction. However, a Picasso painting pretty quickly knocked Bacon off the top perch.
Bal du Moulin de la Galette--Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Renoir’s painting netted a respectable $78 million at auction by Japanese businessman Ryoei Saito. Saito threated to have the painting burned after he died, but it’s believed it was actually sold to a private collector after his passing.
Garçon à la pipe--Pablo Picasso
Garçon à la pipe is one of Picasso’s earlier works that he painted at the age of 25. It may not bear his signature style, but it still managed to make a lot of money at auction. It was sold for $70 million in 2004.
Lichtenstein’s Nurse might look like something out of a Sunday comic, but this pop art icon had a style that really sells. The painting sold for $95.4 million in 2015.
Chop Suey--Edward Hopper
In the 1920s, chop suey restaurants were a major feature of American life, apparently. And that’s what inspired Hoppers painting of two women dining in one. In 2018, the painting sold for $91.9 million.
Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)--David Hockney
Hockney’s painting broke a record when it was sold in 2018--at the time, it was the most expensive painting ever sold by a living artist. It went for $90.3 million dollars at Christie’s.
Francis Bacon painted multiple triptychs in his life, but his 1976 one ended up being one of the strangest and most expensive. The abstract painting managed to net $86.3 million in 2008.
Suprematist Composition--Kazimir Malevich
This collection of squares and rectangles by Kazimir Malevich proves the absurdity of the art market. It sold for $85.8 million in 2018 to an art dealer who clearly has more money than sense.
Black Fire I--Barnett Newman
You can be sure of one thing in the art world--if a painting is just a bunch of basic shapes, it will almost certainly sell for millions. At least that was the case with Newman’s Black Fire I, which sold for $84.2 million in 2014.
Triple Elvis--Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol’s Triple Elvis is not the most profound work of art ever created, but at least he was doing something unique while the rest of the world at the time devolved into abstract art. The painting sold for $81.9 million in 2014.
Laboureur dans un champ--Vincent van Gogh
Van Gogh’s painting of a ploughman is not his best-selling work of all time, but it did manage to exceed expectations at auction. It eventually was sold for $81.3 million in 2017.
Odalisque couchée aux magnolias--Henri Matisse
This Matisse painting created in 1923 was a record setter for the artist. It sold for $80.8 million in 2018, while it was only expected to net about $70 million.
Three Studies for a Portrait of John Edwards--Francis Bacon
Bacon’s many triptychs always seemed to do well on the art market, and this one was no exception. It was bought anonymously for $80.8 million in 2014. It’s probably smart for the buyer to not telegraph to the world that he has millions of dollars to spend on art.
Le Bassin aux Nymphéas--Claude Monet
When this Monet painting was sold at auction, it nearly doubled the artist’s previous record for most expensive painting sold. It brought in $80.5 million dollars in 2008.
This highly meta work from pop artist Roy Lichtenstein was able to predict its own future. Art buyers did in fact clamor for it, and one ended up paying $165 million in 2017 for the piece.