List of most expensive paintings
This is a list of the highest known prices paid for paintings. The earliest sale on the list (Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers by Vincent van Gogh) is from 1987, and more than tripled the previous record price, set only two years before, introducing a new era in top picture prices. The sale was also significant in that for the first time a "modern" painting (in this case from 1888) became the record holder, as opposed to the old master paintings which had always previously held it. Since that time sales of the most valuable paintings have usually been made at auctions, though that had by no means always been the case before, and the list below still shows some "private sales", including the five most expensive. The current record price was paid for The Card Players by Paul Cézanne, which was sold for more than $250 million in 2011.
The world's most famous paintings, especially old master works done before 1803, are generally owned or held at museums, for viewing for patrons. The museums very rarely sell them, and as such, they are quite literally priceless. Guinness World Records lists the Mona Lisa as having the highest insurance value for a painting in history. It was assessed at US$100 million on December 14, 1962, before the painting toured the United States for several months. However, the Louvre chose to spend the money that would have been spent on the insurance premium on security instead. Taking inflation into account, the 1962 value would be around US$780 million today.
The earliest sale on the list below (Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers by Vincent van Gogh) is from March 1987; with a price of £24.75 million ($82 million in current dollars) it tripled the previous record and introduced a new era in top art sales. Before this, the highest absolute price paid for a painting was £8.1 million ($23 million in current dollars) paid by the J. Paul Getty Museum for Mantegna's Adoration of the Magi at Christie's in London on April 18, 1985. In constant dollars, the highest price paid before 1987 was by the National Gallery of Art when in February 1967 they acquired Leonardo da Vinci's Ginevra de' Benci for around $5 million ($35 million in current dollars) from the Princely Family of Liechtenstein. The sale of Van Gogh's Sunflowers was also significant in that for the first time a "modern" (in this case 1888) painting became the record holder, as opposed to the old master paintings which previously had dominated the market. In contrast, there are currently only seven pre-1850 paintings among the top 48 listed.
Van Gogh, Picasso, and Warhol
Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, and Andy Warhol are by far the best represented artists in the list. Whereas Picasso and Warhol became wealthy men, Van Gogh (supposedly) sold only one painting in his lifetime, The Red Vineyard, for 400 Francs (about $1600 in 2011) to the impressionist painter and heiress Anna Boch. His seven paintings in the list below alone were sold for over 719 million current dollars.
List of highest prices paid at auctions or private sales (inflation adjusted)
This list is ordered by consumer price index inflation-adjusted value[note 1] (in bold) in millions of April 2014 United States dollars. Where necessary, the price is first converted to dollars using the exchange rate at the time the painting was sold. The inflation adjustment may change as recent inflation rates are often revised. A list in another currency may be in a slightly different order due to exchange rate fluctuations. Paintings are only listed once, i.e. for the highest price sold.
|Adjusted price (in millions)||Original price (in millions)||Painting||Image||Artist||Year||Date of sale||Rank at sale||Seller||Buyer||Auction house|
|$273||$259 +[note 2]||The Card Players||Paul Cézanne||1892/93||April 2011||1||George Embiricos||State of Qatar||Private sale |
|$164.7||$140||No. 5, 1948||Jackson Pollock||1948||November 2, 2006||1||David Geffen||David Martinez||Private sale via Sotheby's|
|$161.8||$137.5||Woman III||Willem de Kooning||1953||November 18, 2006||2||David Geffen||Steven A. Cohen||Private sale via Larry Gagosian|
|$157.9||$155||Le Rêve||Pablo Picasso||1932||March 26, 2013||4||Steve Wynn||Steven A. Cohen||Private sale|
|$157.7||$135||Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I||Gustav Klimt||1907||June 18, 2006||1||Maria Altmann||Ronald Lauder, Neue Galerie||Private sale via Christie's|
|$151.4||$82.5||Portrait of Dr. Gachet||Vincent van Gogh||1890||May 15, 1990||1||Siegfried Kramarsky family||Ryoei Saito.[note 3]||Christie's, New York|
|$144.5||$142.4||Three Studies of Lucian Freud||Francis Bacon||1969||November 12, 2013||7||Elaine Wynn, ex-wife of Steve Wynn ||Christie's, New York |
|$143.3||$78.1||Bal du moulin de la Galette[note 4]||Pierre-Auguste Renoir||1876||May 17, 1990||2||Betsey Whitney||Ryoei Saito[note 5]||Sotheby's, New York|
|$130.6||$104.2||Garçon à la pipe||Pablo Picasso||1905||May 4, 2004||3||Greentree foundation (Whitney family)||Barilla Group?||Sotheby's, New York|
|$123.7||$119.9||The Scream[note 6]||Edvard Munch||1895||May 2, 2012||8||Petter Olsen||Leon Black ||Sotheby's, New York|
|$119.8||$110.0||Flag[note 7]||Jasper Johns||1954||March 2010||7||Jean-Christophe Castelli||Steven A. Cohen||Private sale, estimated price|
|$115.7||$106.5||Nude, Green Leaves and Bust||Pablo Picasso||1932||May 4, 2010||8||Frances Lasker Brody estate||Christie's, New York|
|$112 ++||$58 plus exchange of works[note 8]||Portrait of Joseph Roulin||Vincent van Gogh||1889||August 1, 1989||1||Private collection, Zürich||Museum of Modern Art New York||Private sale via Thomas Ammann, Fine Art Zurich|
|$111.5||$95.2||Dora Maar au Chat||Pablo Picasso||1941||May 3, 2006||5||Gidwitz family||Boris Ivanishvili||Sotheby's, New York|
|$110.7||$53.9||Irises||Vincent van Gogh||1889||November 11, 1987||1||son of Joan Whitney Payson||Alan Bond[note 9]||Sotheby's, New York|
|$109.5||$100.0||Eight Elvises||Andy Warhol||1963||October 2008||10||Annibale Berlingieri||Private sale via Philippe Ségalot|
|Anna's Light||Barnett Newman||1968||October 4, 2013||16||DIC Corp.||Private sale |
|$107.2||$105.4||Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster)||Andy Warhol||1963||November 13, 2013||18||Sotheby's, New York |
|$103.5||$87.9||Adele Bloch-Bauer II||Gustav Klimt||1912||November 2, 2006||9||Maria Altmann||Christie's, New York|
|$103.4||$71.5||Portrait de l'artiste sans barbe||Vincent van Gogh||1889||November 19, 1998||5||Heirs of Jacques Koerfer (de)||Christie's, New York|
|Massacre of the Innocents||Peter Paul Rubens||1611||July 10, 2002||6||an Austrian family||Kenneth Thomson[note 10]||Sotheby's, London|
|$94.4||$86.3||Triptych, 1976||Francis Bacon||1976||May 14, 2008||13||Moueix Family, Château Pétrus||Roman Abramovich||Sotheby's, New York|
|$94.0||$80.0||False Start||Jasper Johns||1959||October 12, 2006||10||David Geffen||Kenneth C. Griffin||Private sale via Richard Gray |
|$93.7||$57||A Wheatfield with Cypresses||Vincent van Gogh||1889||May 1993||5||son of Emil Georg Bührle||Walter H. Annenberg[note 11]||Private sale via Steven Mazoh|
|Les Noces de Pierrette||Pablo Picasso||1905||November 30, 1989||3||Fredrik Roos (sv)||Tomonori Tsurumaki||Binoche et Godeau Paris|
|$91.6||$47.8||Yo, Picasso||Pablo Picasso||1901||May 9, 1989||2||Wendell Cherry (de)||Stavros Niarchos||Sotheby's, New York|
|$91.2||$80.0||Turquoise Marilyn||Andy Warhol||1964||May 20, 2007||17||Stefan Edlis||Steven A. Cohen||Private sale via Larry Gagosian|
|$90.0||$70.0||Portrait of Alfonso d'Avalos, Marquis of Vasto, in Armor with a Page||Titian||1533||November 2003||10||AXA insurance company||Getty Museum||Private sale via Hervé Aaron|
|$89.6||$86.9||Orange, Red, Yellow||Mark Rothko||1961||May 8, 2012||25||Estate of David Pincus||Christie's, New York|
|Le Bassin aux Nymphéas||Claude Monet||1919||June 24, 2008||20||J. Irwin and Xenia S. Miller||Christie's, London|
|$86.3||$60.5||Rideau, Cruchon et Compotier[note 12]||Paul Cézanne||1894||May 10, 1999||9||Whitney Family||Sotheby's, New York|
|$84.2||$84.2||Black Fire I||Barnett Newman||1961||May 13, 2014||32||Private Collection||Anonymous||Christie's, New York |
|Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers||Vincent van Gogh||1888||March 30, 1987||1||daughter-in-law of Chester Beatty||Yasuo Goto, Yasuda Comp.||Christie's, London|
|$83.0||$72.8||White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose)||Mark Rothko||1950||May 15, 2007||20||David Rockefeller, Sr.||Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani||Sotheby's, New York|
|$81.8||$71.7||Green Car Crash (Green Burning Car I)||Andy Warhol||1963||May 16, 2007||21||Private collection, Zürich||Philip Niarchos||Christie's, New York|
|$80.8||$80.8||Three Studies for a Portrait of John Edwards||Francis Bacon||1984||May 13, 2014||36||Private Collection||Anonymous||Christie's, New York |
|Diana and Actaeon||Titian||1556–1559||February 1, 2009||26||Duke of Sutherland||National Galleries of Scotland & National Gallery, London||Private sale|
|$78.9||$75–$80||Salvator Mundi||Leonardo Da Vinci||1490-1519||May 2013||33||Robert Simon||Anonymous||Private sale |
(€50-60) [note 13]
|Darmstadt Madonna||Hans Holbein||1526||July 12, 2011||30||Donatus, Hereditary Prince of Hesse||Reinhold Würth||Private sale via Christoph Graf Douglas|
|$78.0||$68||The Gross Clinic||Thomas Eakins||1875||April 12, 2007||20||Thomas Jefferson University||Philadelphia Museum of Art||Private sale.|
|$77.0||$75.1||No 1 (Royal Red and Blue)||Mark Rothko||1954||November 13, 2012||34||John and Anne Marion||Sotheby's, New York |
|$76.6||$40.7||Au Lapin Agile||Pablo Picasso||1904||November 27, 1989||5||daughter of Joan Whitney Payson||Walter H. Annenberg||Sotheby's, New York|
|Acrobate et jeune arlequin[note 14]||Pablo Picasso||1905||November 28, 1988||3||heir of Roger Janssen? [note 15]||Mitsukoshi||Christie's, London|
|$74.9||$55.0||Femme aux Bras Croisés||Pablo Picasso||1902||November 8, 2000||13||McCormick family, Chicago||Christie's, New York|
|$74.7||$69.0||Nude Sitting on a Divan ("La Belle Romaine")||Amedeo Modigliani||1917||November 2, 2010||33||Halit Cıngıllıoglu||Sotheby's, New York|
|$74.6||$63.5||Police Gazette||Willem de Kooning||1955||October 12, 2006||19||David Geffen||Steven A. Cohen||Private sale via Richard Gray |
|Diana and Callisto||Titian||1556–1559||March 2, 2012||37||Duke of Sutherland||National Galleries of Scotland & National Gallery, London||Private sale|
|$70.2||$47.5||Peasant Woman Against a Background of Wheat||Vincent van Gogh||1890||1997||11||Steve Wynn[note 16]||Private sale via Acquavella Galleries Inc., New York|
|$69.7||$49.5||Femme assise dans un jardin||Pablo Picasso||1938||November 10, 1999||15||Robert Saidenberg||Sotheby's, New York|
|Eagle Standing on Pine Tree||Qi Baishi||1946||May 22, 2011||38||Liu Yiqian||Hunan TV & Broadcast Intermediary Co||China Guardian Auctions|
|$68.7||$63.4||Men in Her Life||Andy Warhol||1962||November 8, 2010||37||Jose Mugrabi||Phillips de Pury & Company|
|$67.4||$35.2||Portrait of a Halberdier||Pontormo||1537||May 31, 1989||5||Chauncey Devereaux Stillman||Getty Museum||Christie's, New York|
|$67.0||$60.0||Suprematist Composition||Kazimir Malevich||1916||November 3, 2008||34||Heirs of Kazimir Malevich||Sotheby's, New York|
|$66.2||$66.2||Untitled||Mark Rothko||1952||May 13, 2014||54||Private Collection||Anonymous||Christie's, New York |
|Zhichuan Resettlement||Wang Meng||1350||June 4, 2011||42||Beijing Poly Auction|
- Using the U.S. Department Of Labor's April 2014 historical consumer price index table (Table 24 in the pdf file), representing the U.S. city average for all urban consumers. The average between 1982 and 1984 is set to 100; the CPI-U for April 2014 was 237.072
- Exact price (even the currency of sale) is not known, with estimates from $259 million to even $300 million
- Reportedly, Gachet's portrait was privately resold to a European buyer in 1997 or 1998 for $65-$90 million through Sotheby’s
- This is the small version of the painting; the large version is at Musée d'Orsay.
- Privately resold for ca. $50 million through Sotheby’s in 1997
- One of two pastel versions; another two painted versions (and lithography) exist, all created by Munch
- Most expensive painting by a living artist
- The paintings transferred to the dealers include a late Monet entitled Corona (Water Lilies) from around 1920; Renoir's Reclining Nude of 1902, Kandinsky's Autumn Landscape, Murnau from 1908, and Picasso's Striped Bodice from September 1943.
- Alan Bond could not pay off the painting, and Irises was resold (probably for somewhat less) to the Getty Museum.
- Later in 2002, Thomson donated his private collection, including the Rubens, to the Art Gallery of Ontario
- Annenberg donated it subsequently to the Metropolitan Museum of Art
- Steve Wynn, who bid on the painting at auction, privately acquired the work several months later from the unidentified buyer for an undisclosed, supposedly lower price. Kenneth Griffin acquired it in 2004 from Wynn.
- Usually estimated at "over €50 M" or "between 50 and 60 million Euros". $75M would have been €53M on July 12, 2011.
- resold for £12m to Stavros Niarchos in 1993
- A Belgian banker and collector who bought it in 1939 for $18,000. His was the last name on the 1988 provenance list; painting came from "a private collection in Arizona"
- On Oct. 7, 2005, The New York Times reported that Steven Cohen bought van Gogh's "Peasant Woman Against a Background of Wheat" and Gauguin's "Bathers" (1903) from Steve Wynn for approximately $110 million, though guesses range from $100-150 million. One or both of the paintings may thus occur higher on this list.
- Art Media Agency (AMA), 250 M$, a new record for a painting?, 4 May 2011
- Stefan Koldehoff, Welt-online: Das Rätsel vom teuersten Bild aller Zeiten, 31 July 2011 (already mentions Qatar as most likely buyer)
- Peers, Alexandra (January 2012). "Qatar Purchases Cézanne’s The Card Players for More Than $250 Million, Highest Price Ever for a Work of Art". QuatarSale. Retrieved 2012-02-03.
- William Wilson, Getty Pays $10.5 Million For Painting, New York Times, April 19, 1985
- The Red Vineyard Painting at annaboch.com
- Carol Vogel, A Pollock Is Sold, Possibly for a Record Price, New York Times, November 2, 2006
- Carol Vogel, Landmark De Kooning Crowns Collection, New York Times, November 18, 2006
- Carol Vogel & Peter Lattman, $616 Million Poorer, Hedge Fund Owner Still Buys Art, New York Times, March 26, 2013
- Carol Vogel, Lauder Pays $135 Million, a Record, for a Klimt Portrait, New York Times, June 19, 2006
- ARTnews: The Most Wanted Works of Art
- artnet: the silent boom
- Carol Vogel, Buyer of $142.4 Million Bacon Triptych Identified as Elaine Wynn, New York Times, January 15, 2014
- Vogel, Carol (November 12, 2013). "Bacon's Study of Freud Sells for $142.4 Million". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved November 13, 2013.
- Claire Foy-Smith, Who buys paintings for $104m?, BBC News Online, 6 May 2004
- Lot description and auction details of "Garçon à la pipe" at Sotheby's website.
- Kelly Crow, An Art Mystery Solved: Mogul Is 'Scream' Buyer, The Wall Street Journal, July 11, 2012
- The New York Times Planting a Johns ‘Flag’ in a Private Collection
- Picasso piece sets record for art sold at auction, Reuters, May 5, 2010
- Kimmelman, Michael: How the MoMA got the Van Gogh, New York Times, 09 October 1989.
- Marc Spiegler, he Hunt for the Red Collector, New York Magazine, 22 August 2006.
- Lot description and auction details of "Dora Maar au Chat" at Sotheby's website.
- The Pop master's highs and lows, The Economist, 26 November 2009.
- DIC Sells 'Anna's Light' Painting For Y10.3bn Gain
- Barnett Newman "Anna's Light" (Japanese)
- Regarding extraordinary profit associated with the sale of a certain painting owned by the company and revision of its consolidated operating result forecast
- Silver Car Crash auction results at Sotheby's
- Mr. Kenneth Thomson’s gift to the AGO of his art collection -- the most significant private art collection in Canada – will add 2,000 outstanding works to the Art Gallery of Ontario, archived from the original on 2006-10-08, retrieved 2013-09-02
- Wine Spectator Online: Unfiltered (21 May 2008). "Château Pétrus Makes a Record-Breaking Sale—of Art".
- Cristina Ruiz and Sarah Thornton Roman Abramovich brings home the $86.3m Bacon and the $33.6m Freud, The Art Newspaper, 1 June 2008
- Lot description and auction details of "Triptych, 1976" at Sotheby's website.
- Carol Vogel, Works by Johns and de Kooning Sell for $143.5 Million, The New york Times, October 12, 2006
- Judd Tully, Auction; `Blue' Picasso Breaks Record at $51.7 Million, The Washington Post, Dec 1, 1989
- Carol Vogel, Inside Art: Buying a Warhol 'Marilyn', New York Times, 25 May 2007
- The Getty secures masterpiece portrait by Titian, a November 24, 2003 press release by the Getty Museum
- Will Bennett, The $70 million soldier, The Daily Telegraph, 23 February 2004
- Mark Rothko painting sets post-war auction record, The Daily Telegraph, 9 May 2012
- Lot description and auction details of "Le bassin aux nymphéas" at Christie's website
- ARTnews: Cohen Buys Two Works from Wynn in $120M Deal
- Thornton, Sarah; Adam, Georgina (May 4, 2008). "Revealed: $72.8m Rockefeller Rothko has gone to Qatar". The Art Newspaper.
- Lot description and auction details of "White Center" at Sotheby's website.
- Lot description and auction details of "Green Car Crash" at Christie's website
- Farah Nayeri, U.K. Buys Titian Diana Painting for 50 Million Pounds, Bloomberg, February 2, 2009
- Mike Wade, Titian deal paves way for next acquisition, The Sunday Times, 2 February 2009
- Funds secured for Titian painting, BBC News, 2 February 2009
- Reyburn, Scott. Recently Attributed Leonardo Painting Was Sold Privately for Over $75 Million. New York Times. 3 March 2014. 
- Greatest German Renaissance Madonna sold by prince, The Art Newspaper, July 15, 2011
- Salisbury, Stephan (November 14, 2006), A divisive deal, The Philadelphia Inquirer
- No. 1 (Royal Red and Blue at Sotheby's
- Lot description and auction details of "Femme aux bras croisés" at Christie's website
- Kelly Crow, Sotheby's Sells $68.9 Million Modigliani, Wall Street Journal, November 3, 2010
- Nu assis sur un divan auction details at Sotheby's
- "Willem de Kooning". Twcdc.com. Retrieved 2013-04-30.
- Pauline McLean BBC Scotland arts correspondent. "Titian masterpiece Diana and Callisto saved for nation". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-03-01.
- sGallery: A Gauguin and a van Gogh Change Hands
- Carol Vogel, A Gauguin and a van Gogh Change Hands, New York Times, Oct 7, 2005
- Carter B. Horsley, The Collection of Eleanore and Daniel Saidenberg
- China auction sees Qi Baishi painting sell for $65m
- The buyer of 422.5 Million Qi Baishi painting revealed
- Carol Vogel, Auction Records Fall at Phillips’s Sale of Contemporary Masters, NY Times, November 10, 2010
- Lot description and auction details of "Suprematist Composition" at Sotheby's website.
- Wang Meng painting auction for $62 million
- Top 100 most expensive paintings (French)
- The Most Expensive Paintings ever sold list by theartwolf
- The 49 Most Expensive Paintings ever sold visualisation by Jacksonsart