The Most Expensive Art Pieces Ever Sold The Most Expensive Art Pieces Ever Sold

In this week’s article let us take a quick look at the most expensive art pieces ever sold! Why so expensive?

The idea that famous works of art are considered priceless, is the result of the inflating value of the artwork overtime. Surely one of the reasons these artworks ended up being the most expensive art pieces is the fact they were created by world’s most famous artists that they hold immense value in the history of the arts at large. While most of such artworks are held at museums and other important cultural institutions and are never for sale, those offered at auctions represent a great opportunity for collectors to obtain one and reach a new level of prestige. From de Kooning and Cezanne to Pablo Picasso, Pollock, Rothko and Modigliani, here is the world’s most expensive art!



Willem de Kooning – Woman III

One of a series of six paintings by Willem de Kooning dedicated to women, Woman III is a fine example of Abstract Expressionism. Part of Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art collection, it couldn’t be shown in the country after the 1979 revolution due to censorship and in 1994 it was quietly sold to the entertainment magnate and collector David Geffen, who then sold it to hedge fund billionaire Steven A. Cohen for £137.5 million, making it the fourth most expensive painting ever sold at the time.



Jackson Pollock – No. 5

Jackson Pollock’s No. 5 painted in 1948, a 120 by 240 cm (4ft x 8ft) fiberboard covered in splashes of reds, yellows, blues and greys, is one of the artist’s first famous drip paintings. Since it was originally painted, it was completely redone by Pollock himself due to transportation damages, although Alfonso A. Ossorio, who bought it from the artist at the time, liked it and kept it either way. The artwork, reached a price of $164.3 million.



Amedeo Modigliani – Nu Couché

At $170.4 million, Amedeo Modigliani’s Nu Couché is one of his most widely reproduced and exhibited works. Also known as Red Nude and Reclining Nude, the work shook things up at Christie’s sale in 2015, when it fell in the hands of Chinese businessman Liu Yiqian. It is a part of a famous series of nudes that Modigliani painted in 1917. He was a familiar face on the streets of Montparnasse and he lived most of his short life as a poor man.



Pablo Picasso – Les Femmes d’Alger

Inspired by Eugène Delacroix’s 1834 painting The Women of Algiers in their Apartment, Pablo Picasso created his own series of 15 works and numerous drawings of a similar title The Women of Algiers. Version O, which went for $179.4 million at Christie’s New York in May 2015 to the former Qatari prime minister, Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani.



Rembrandt – Pendant portraits of Marten Soolmans & Oopjen Coppit

Despite the fact that they were created as two independent portraits, the paintings have always hung together. In September 2015, the museums of Louvre and Rijksmuseum join forces to purchase the artworks from French banker Éric de Rothschild for $180 million.



Mark Rothko – No. 6 (Violet, Green and Red)

Entitled No. 6 (Violet, Green and Red), it consists of large expanses of colour delineated by uneven, hazy shades. It was also the topic of one of the most famous art feuds between Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev and Swiss dealer Yves Bouvier over the correct price of the work. The price Mr. Rubolovlev paid for No. 6 was a record for the American painter – $186 million!



Jackson Pollock – Number 17A

Jackson Pollock’s Number 17A, is an oil on fiberboard and another example of drip painting. His work was featured in a 1949 Life magazine article that helped make him a household name. Mr. Griffin gave $200 million on Pollock, which is currently on display at the Art Institute of Chicago.



Paul Cezanne – The Card Players

It depicts Provençal peasants playing cards and smoking their pipes, so focused and calm that many critics describe them as “human still lifes”. It belongs to the royal family of the tiny, oil-rich state of Qatarand it is surely of the most significant artworks of all time and as such it was bought for over $250 million from Greek shipping magnate George Embiricos, who rarely lent it and was constantly getting offers for it that weren’t good enough – until that one time.



Paul Gauguin – Nafea Faa Ipoipo (When Will You Marry?)

Speaking of Qatar, here’s another masterpiece which ended up in their hands after a shocking February 2015 private sale. Paul Gauguin’s 1982 When Will You Marry? is now the second most expensive art piece ever, with a price of some $300 million paid by the state-financed Qatar Museums.



Willem de Kooning – Interchange

The very queen of the most expensive art ever sold and the other half of Ken Griffin’s legendary $500 million art purchase from September 2015. It represents a great example of New York-based Abstract Expressionism and the artist’s intention to depict the ugly of the new world, one trying to stand on its feet in the World War II aftermath.



Leonardo da Vinci – Salvator Mundi

The formerly thought to be lost forever Salvator Mundi is just one of less than 20 known paintings by Leonardo da Vinci, according to BBC, and was auctioned off by Christie’s for a record-breaking price of $450,312,500 in just 19 minutes.



Francis Bacon – Three Studies of Lucian Freud

Three Studies of Lucian Freud depicts Freud seated on a wooden chair against an orange background and has become one of the most expensive artworks ever sold at an auction. According to the New York Times, the piece was purchased by the art dealer William Acquavella on behalf of an unnamed client for $142.4m (£89.6m) at Christie’s in New York, following a bidding battle between seven prospective buyers.



Amedeo Modigliani – Nu Couché (sur le côté gauche)

The largest work from Amedeo Modigliani’s career and his greatest nude, Nu Couché was acquired by its previous owner at auction in 2003 for $26.9 million. It is now the most valuable work ever sold at Sotheby’s, selling for $157 million in the Impressionist & Modern Evening Sale. Today, the series is recognized as one of the seminal achievements in Modern painting.
Sotheby’s Co-Head, Simon Shaw, commented: “Three artists have broken the $150 million barrier at auction, but tonight Modigliani became the only artist to have crossed that threshold twice – evidence of the rapid rise in appreciation for his work … artists like Modigliani, Picasso and Monet performed well tonight, so did those who are expanding the boundaries of our market and attracting new collectors each season, such as Rufino Tamayo, Joaquín Torres-García, Georgia O’Keeffe and Mary Cassatt.”