List of most expensive artworks by living artists
This is a progressive list of record auction prices for an artwork by a living artist. The current record price is $91.1 million for Jeff Koons's 1986 sculpture, Rabbit, in May 2019. The most expensive painting by a living artist sold at auction is David Hockney's 1972 Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) at $90.3 million in 2018.
Overall, the highest known price paid for an artwork by a living artist was for Jasper Johns' 1958 painting Flag. The 2010 sale price was estimated to be about $110 million ($129 million in 2019 dollars).
List of auction sales records
|91.82||91.1||Rabbit||Jeff Koons||May 2019||Christie's|||
|92.48||90.3||Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)||David Hockney||November 2018||Christie's|||
|64.68||58.4||Balloon Dog (Orange)||Jeff Koons||November 2013||Christie's|||
|48.93||44.5||Abstraktes Bild (599) (1986)||Gerhard Richter||February 2015||Sotheby's|||
|41.11||37.1||Domplatz, Mailand||Gerhard Richter||May 2013||Sotheby's|||
|38.16||34.2||Abstraktes Bild (809-4) (1994)||Gerhard Richter||October 2012||Sotheby's|||
|40.03||33.6||Benefits Supervisor Sleeping||Lucian Freud||May 2008||Christie's|||
|28.98||23.6||Hanging Heart (Magenta/Gold)||Jeff Koons||November 2007||Sotheby's|||
|25.92||20||Swamped||Peter Doig||May 2015||Christie's|||
|23.91||19.3||Lullaby Spring||Damien Hirst||June 2007||Sotheby's|||
|36.48||17||False Start||Jasper Johns||November 1988||Sotheby's|||
|15.02||7||White Flag||Jasper Johns||November 1988||Christie's|||
|9.18||4.18||Diver||Jasper Johns||May 1988||Christie's|||
|8.28||3.63 (tied)||Pink Lady||Willem de Kooning||May 1987||Sotheby's|||
|8.49||3.63 (tied)||Out the Window||Jasper Johns||November 1986||Sotheby's|||
|3.23||1.2||Two Women||Willem de Kooning||May 1982||Christie's|||
|2.19||0.8||L'Enigme du Desir/Ma Mere, Ma Mere, Ma Mere||Salvador Dali||March 1982||Christie's|||
|4.13||0.53||Mother and Child||Pablo Picasso||April 1967||Sotheby's|||
|1.88||0.22||Death of Harlequin/Woman in a Garden||Pablo Picasso||1962||Sotheby's|||
|1.34||0.15 (tied)||La Belle Hollandaise||Pablo Picasso||May 1959||Sotheby's|||
|1.34||0.15 (tied)||Mother and Child||Pablo Picasso||November 1958||Sotheby's|||
|0.066||Friedland, 1807||Ernest Meissonier||March 1887||Stewart estate sale|||
|0.045||Les Communiantes||Jules Breton||May 1886||Mary J. Morgan estate sale|||
- Jasper Johns' 1958 Flag painting was sold by Steven A. Cohen to Jean-Christophe Castelli for ca $110 million in 2010 ($129 million in 2019 dollars).
- Privately, Damien Hirst's For the Love of God (2007), composed of diamond and platinum, sold to a consortium including the artist in August 2007 for $100 million.($123 million in 2019 dollars) 
- Another Jasper Johns painting, False Start (1959), was sold by Kenneth C. Griffin to David Geffen on October 12, 2006, for a then record $80 million.($101 million in 2019 dollars)
- The Whitney Museum of American Art privately purchased Jasper Johns's Three Flags in 1980 for $1 million ($3 million in 2019 dollars), then a record price for a living artist.
- In 1967, citizens of Basel, Switzerland, raised nearly $2 million to buy two Picasso paintings for their Kunstmuseum Basel.
- In 1890, Alfred Chauchard, owner of the Grands Magasins du Louvre department store, purchased Ernest Meissonier's 1814 The Campaign of France from a banker for 850,000 Fr (US$162,000 in 1890; equivalent to $5 million in 2019), the highest price for a painting by artist dead or alive.
- List of most expensive paintings
- List of most expensive photographs
- List of most expensive sculptures
- List of most expensive books and manuscripts
- Vogel, Carol. "Planting a Johns 'Flag' in a Private Collection".
- Reyburn, Scott (May 16, 2019). "Jeff Koons Rabbit Sets Auction Record for Most Expensive Work by Living Artist". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331.
- "The 10 Moments That Defined Art in the 2010s". Artsy. December 16, 2019. Retrieved December 29, 2019.
- Reyburn, Scott; Pogrebin, Robin (November 16, 2018). "David Hockney Painting Sells for $90 Million, Smashing Record for Living Artist". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on April 3, 2019. Retrieved May 16, 2019.
- Vogel, Carol (October 19, 2018). "At $142.4 Million, Triptych Is the Most Expensive Artwork Ever Sold at an Auction". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on April 1, 2019. Retrieved May 16, 2019.
- "Contemporary Titans Reign Supreme". Sotheby's. 11 February 2015. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 21 September 2019.
- "Richter painting breaks record". BBC News. May 15, 2013. Archived from the original on April 25, 2019. Retrieved May 16, 2019.
- Ng, David (October 15, 2012). "Gerhard Richter painting owned by Eric Clapton sets auction record". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Archived from the original on May 16, 2019. Retrieved May 16, 2019.
- Gelder, Lawrence Van (May 19, 2008). "The Mystery Art Buyer". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on May 7, 2019. Retrieved May 16, 2019.
- Gleadell, Colin (November 26, 2007). "Sothebys Scores Its Highest-Ever $316M Contemporary Auction". ARTnews. Archived from the original on November 20, 2018. Retrieved May 16, 2019.
- Miller, H (September 22, 2017). "Proceeds from Christie's sale of Peter Doig's cabin essence will benefit world justice project". ARTnews. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
- Holmes, Pernilla (October 1, 2007). "The Branding of Damien Hirst". ARTnews. Archived from the original on June 1, 2016. Retrieved May 16, 2019.
- Reif, Rita (November 11, 1988). "Jasper Johns Painting Is Sold for $17 Million". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on April 2, 2019. Retrieved May 16, 2019.
Johns's 'False Start' was sold for $10 million more than his White Flag had brought at Christie's, establishing a new high for a work by a living artist.
- Reif, Rita (November 10, 1988). "Johns's 'White Flag' Is Sold for Record Price". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on April 27, 2019. Retrieved May 16, 2019.
Jasper Johns's ghostlike 'White Flag,' ... was sold last night at Christie's for $7 million, the highest price ever paid for a work by a living artist.
- "Buyer of Johns Painting". The New York Times. May 9, 1988. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on May 25, 2015. Retrieved May 16, 2019.
... Jasper Johns's fiercely compelling Diver, from 1962, which brought $4.2 million last Tuesday at Christie's, ... was an auction record for a work by any living artist.
- Reif, Rita (May 5, 1987). "De Kooning Painting Ties Auction Record". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331.
Willem de Kooning's 'Pink Lady' from 1944 tied the record at auction for a contemporary painting and for a work by a living artist when it was sold last night for $3.63 million at Sotheby's.
- Reif, Rita (November 11, 1986). "Jasper Johns Painting Brings Record Price". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331.
Jasper Johns's boldly colored and Expressionistic 'Out the Window,' from 1959, was sold last night for the highest price ever paid at auction for a work by a living artist ...
- Carter, E. Graydon (May 23, 1983). "People". Time. 121 (21): 51. ISSN 0040-781X – via EBSCOhost.
At Christie's in New York City last week, the house applauded enthusiastically as the gavel went down on Abstract Expressionist Willem de Kooning's Two Women. Reason: a price of $1.2 million, the most money paid for a work by a living artist.
- "Dali's 'Mere' Sets Auction Record". The New York Times. March 31, 1982. ISSN 0362-4331.
Christie's, the auctioneer, said the price for 'Ma Mere,' French for 'My Mother,' was a record auction figure for a living artist.
- "Picasso Brings Record $532,000; Price at Sotheby's Is Highest for Work by Living Artist". The New York Times. April 27, 1967. pp. 1, 19. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
A Picasso painting brought the highest price ever paid for a work by a living artist. ... At Sotheby & Co., $532,000 was paid for an early Picasso, a 1902 'Mother and Child,' of the artist's Blue Period. ... The Picasso ran far ahead of the former record-holder, 'Death of Harlequin,' which brought $198,000 at Sotheby's in 1962. ... It was pointed out that possibly more may have been paid at a private sale for a work by the Spanish master.
- "Price of a Picasso". Time Magazine. 89 (18): 60. May 5, 1967. ISSN 0040-781X.
At Sotheby's auction house last week, Picasso's down-and-out souvenir, Mother and Child by the Sea, brought the highest price ever paid for a work by a living artist: $532,000, more than double the previous record, also held by Picasso, whose Death of Harlequin sold in 1962 for $224,000.
- Reif, Rita (August 8, 1989). "42 Artworks Collected by Paul Mellon to Be Sold". The New York Times. p. 53. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
Picasso's 'Death of Harlequin' from 1905 sold for $224,000, a record at auction for a work by a living artist, at a much publicized 1962 auction of W. Somerset Maugham's collection at Sotheby's in London.
- "Master Auctioneer". Time Magazine. 79 (16): 76. April 20, 1962. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
The 35 paintings went for $1,466,864, including $244,000—the highest price ever paid at auction for a living artist—for a Picasso curiosity that showed The Death of Harlequin on one side and Woman Seated in a Garden on the other.
- "In Our Pages: 100, 75, 50 Years Ago". The New York Times. May 6, 2009. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
A painting of a nude Dutch girl ... was auctioned off here today for £55,000 ($154,000) — the highest bid ever made anywhere for the work of a living artist. ... 'La Belle Hollandaise,' ... The latest sale bested the record brought by another Picasso, 'Mother and Child,' according to Sotheby’s.
- "Auction Records Broken in London: A Picasso Sold for £55, 000." Illustrated London News, May 16, 1959, p. 835. Gale HN3100388967 "... at Sotheby's on May 6, an early Picasso nude... was sold ... for £55,000, the highest price ever paid in an auction room for the work of a living artist. Prior to this the record had been held by another Picasso, a Mother and Child, which was sold last November in New York for £54,000.
- Saarinen, Aline B. (November 20, 1958). "Auction of Art Brings $1,548,500: 1903 Picasso Sells for $152,000—Gallery Filled by 2,000". The New York Times. p. 1. ISSN 0362-4331. ProQuest 114520684.
The top price of $152,000 was paid... for a 1903 Picasso, 'Mother and Child.' It is a record price for a Picasso sold at auction.
- M'Cormick, William B. (July 1913). "The Million Dollar Picture: Will It Ever Arrive?". Arts & Decoration. 3 (9): 306–307.
In 1887 the world of art was astonished when Judge Hilton, of New York City, paid $66,000 for Meissonier's Friedland—1807, at the sale of the A. T. Stewart collection in Chickering Hall. That was the highest price ever paid for a painting at public sale anywhere in the world up to that time.
- Tyrrell, Henry (September 1908). "Bulling the Art Market: Million Dollars Worth of Meissoniers". The Scrap Book. 6 (3): 438.
- Lettres, sciences, arts: Encyclopédie universelle du XXe siècle. 1908. 3: 85. "... les Communiantes (Salon de 1884): 227,500 fr. C'est l'enchère la plus considèrable qui ait été atteinte jusqu'alors par un tableau d'artiste vivant"
- Methodist Magazine. January 1901. p. 81: "For the painting of 'The First Communion,' by Breton, [Lord Strathcona] paid the sum of $45,000, the highest price, it is said, ever paid for a modern picture sold at auction."
- Carol Vogel, Works by Johns and de Kooning Sell for $143.5 Million, The New York Times, October 12, 2006
- Muchnic, Suzanne (February 19, 1988). "Is Jasper Johns New Van Gogh of the Art Market?". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035.
Johns' works bring high prices in private sales too. The Whitney Museum of American Art in 1980 paid $1 million--a stunning price at the time--for his "Three Flags" painting in a private transaction.
- Vogel, Carol (February 3, 2008). "The Gray Areas of Jasper Johns". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on June 22, 2018. Retrieved May 16, 2019.
- Biddle, Flora Miller (2017). The Whitney Women and the Museum They Made: A Family Memoir. Skyhorse. p. 381. ISBN 978-1-62872-809-5.
- LIFE Dec 27, 1968, p. 120. "Picasso's top price—in fact, the top price in history for the work of a living artist—was set in Basel, Switzerland, where citizens raised $1,950,000 to buy Two Brothers, 1905, and Seated Harlequin, 1923, for their museum."
- King, Ross (2009). The Judgment of Paris: The Revolutionary Decade that Gave the World Impressionism. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 370. ISBN 978-0-8027-1841-9.
In 1890, the year before Meissonier's death, Alfred Chauchard, owner of the Grands Magasins du Louvre, an enormous department store in the Rue de Rivoli, paid a staggering 850,000 francs when The Campaign of France, formerly owned by Gaston Delahante, came onto the market. ... This stratospheric price made The Campaign of France the most expensive painting ever purchased during the nineteenth century, by a painter either living or dead.