The 10 Most Expensive Paintings of All-Time

Artwork has always been an interest to people. Every artist has their own views of the world and their own unique way of expressing how they see the world around them, on canvas or other modes of artistry. There are some people who pay a high price for a painting that speaks to them. There are several things that can determine the price of a painting and one is, how famous the artist is. Some of the most well-known artists have sold some of their work for millions of dollars. Paintings can be purchased by museums, collectors, antique dealers and private citizens. Here is a list of the ten most expensive paintings of all-time.

10. Andy Warhol – Silver Car Crash -$105.4 Million

Andy Warhol is a famed painter who has sold millions of dollars worth of his artwork. Many celebrities have collected his works that are mostly contemporary pop culture-type paintings of celebrities, advertisements, comics and other unique themes. He created a series of macabre death pictures which were known as Warhol’s “Death and Disaster” series. One of his most notable paintings from this is series is titled “Silver Car Crash,” painted in 1963, and shows a twisted body in a devastating car crash among twisted metal. The painting sold for $105.4 million in 2013 to an undisclosed private buyer.

9. Pablo Picasso – Nude, Green Leaves and Bust – $106.5 Million

Pablo Picasso is one of the most famous names in the world of art and his work has been sought after for years, by private collectors and museums alike. He was known as a naturalistic painter and is regarded as one of the most influential painters of all-time. To own a Picasso, is one of the greatest aspirations of art collectors around the world. Picasso’s work is often categorized into periods, and his painting, Nude, Green Leaves and Bust is one his most expensive paintings ever sold. It was painted on March 8, 1932, and depicts his love affair, Marie-Thérèse, which sold for $106.5 million.

8. Jasper Johns – Flag, – $110 Million

Born in 1930 in August, Georgia, Jasper Johns is an American printmaker, sculptor and painter. He is best known for his Neo-Dada style painting and pop art. His most notable piece of art is his painting titled, Flag, which he has said was painted after he had a dream of the American flag. Johns originally started the piece using the traditional oil-based enamel paint, but switched to what is known as anachronistic medium of encaustic. The is pigment mixed with hot wax, which he used with strips of newspaper and fabric with the adhered encaustic to allow for efficiency and more versatility with his brushstrokes and drips that give it a unique take on the mid-century American paintings. The piece sold for $110 million dollars.

7. Edvard Munch – The Scream – $119.9 Million

Born in 1863, Edvard Munch was born in the United Kingdoms of Norway and Sweden and was a Norwegian printmaker and painter. His best-known work is The Scream, from 1893. Munch came from a family where tragedy struck in ways of poverty, death, and a traumatic upbringing by his father who was obsessed with religion and suffered with temperamental nervousness. The impact was that Edvard, then too, grew up to fear many things in life, and many fears came out in his paintings. Scream stemmed from what he described as an event that took place on a walk home when he was younger. The sky turned blue and blood red and he could feel nature screaming around him. This remarkable piece sold for $119.9 million, and is his most popular painting. It was released in a variety of versions, including paintings and pastels.

6. Gustav Klimt – Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I – $135 Million

Born in 1918, The Austrian symbolist painter is one of the most influential painters of the female body. He’s noted for his murals, sketches and paintings that use the female body as his object and used Japanese art as his own methods. He also painted landscapes, allegories and portraits, but it is the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I that he was most remembered for, a painting that sold for $135 million Ronald Lauder for his collection in Neue Galerie, in New York.

5. Willem de Kooning – Woman III – $137.5 Million

Willem de Kooning is a Dutch-American abstract-expressionist artist who was born in Rotterdam in 1904. He came to the US as a stowaway on a freight ship. He arrived in Virginia on August 15, 1926 and subsequently moved to New York in 1927 where he worked as a carpenter, commercial painter and house painter to support himself. He began painting in his free time in 1928 and joined the art colony at Woodstock, NY. Woman III is one of his pieces from his “Woman”” era that began in the 1950’s. It was said to represent the frustration and inner conflict he had with women. It is considered a prized piece off the American feminist movement and post-World-War II era. It was sold for $137.5 million, one of the most expensive pieces of art to-date.

4. Jackson Pollock – No. 5 1948 – $140 Million 

Jackson Pollock is recognized for his use of liquid paint and creating paintings during the “drip period.” He was born in Wyoming in January of 1912 and was known as an incredible abstract expressionist during his 44 years of life. He dealt with severe alcoholism, which lead to his death in the way of an alcohol related death in 1956. Pollock gave up naming his pieces by name, and gave them numbers to keep them non-biased and allow people to see the artwork for what it was, art. His piece, No. 5 1958 was one that was purchased at a gallery in 1949, by Ossorio Alfonso. During the move, the painting was damaged and re-worked but Alfonso still loved it and appreciated. Rumors today, are that David Martinez, managing partner of Fintech Advisory, purchased the painting for $140 million.

3. Francis Bacon – Three Studies of Lucian Freud – $142.4 Million

Three Studies of Lucian Freud 1969 is an oil-on-canvass painting by Francis Bacon who is an Irish-born, British painter and one of Britain’s major, post-WWII painters. He was a major influence in the art world during the 1980’s, for figurative artists. He has had his work displayed in galleries and museums all over the world and his painting titled, “Three Studies of Lucian Freud,” has been one of the highest selling pieces of art to date. It sold for $142.4 million at Christie’s in New York in 2013.

2. Pablo Picasso – La Rêve (The Dream) 1932 – $155 Million

“The Dream” is considered one of Picasso’s most famous paintings. He often painted his lover, Marie-Therese Walter, and this one is showing her in a sensual way in that it shows her sitting peacefully in a red arm chair, head tilted back and her eyes closed – a necklace elegantly hanging from her neck. The painting was to sell for $139 million in 2006, from Steve Wynn to Steven Cohen, but it was cancelled due to Wynn accidently damaging the piece a bit and Cohen backed out. However, it was repaired and revaluated and in 2013, Cohen purchased the piece for $155 million.

1.  Paul Cézanne – The Card Players – $250 Million

“The Card Players” is one of Paul Cezanne’s most famous pieces and the most expensive piece of art, estimating to be worth $250 million, up to $350 million. Cezanne, a French Post-Impressionist, painted a series of oil paintings and during his final period, which was in the early 1890’s, he completed “The Card Players,” one of his final series. The painting depicts the seriousness of a card game between to men, as they stare intently at their cards and avoid eye contact. The Royal Family of Qatar purchased the one painting, not the series, for $259 million. It has been listed as the most expensive piece of art.

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