Vincent Van Gogh is among the most iconic Dutch painters in history. His paintings have fetched fortunes at auctions throughout the world. He was from the small town of Groot Zundert in Holland. His birth followed the death of an older child as his replacement for the grieving parents. Van Gogh’s life was characterized by the artistic genius and periodic mental breakdowns. Life didn’t go the way he had planned. He suffered from physical ailments and a lack of success in his artistic productions during his lifetime. His art is filled with symbolism for the emotional truth he held, but the beauty and impact of his work would not be realized until after his death. We feel the emotions of loneliness and disparity portrayed in his art. It’s a wonder if the struggling artist who only sold a few paintings during his lifetime would be pleased with the fortunes they demand today? Here are the five most expensive Van Gogh Paintings ever sold.
5. Irises by Vincent Van Gogh Price: $53.9 million
Irises is the fifth most expensive Van Gogh painting ever sold. Vincent painted this masterpiece as one in a series painted not long before he died in 1890. It was completed at the Saint Paul de Mausole asylum where he was contained in Saint Remy de Provence, France. Van Gogh took a personal liking to irises and he painted several works featuring the lovely flowers. It’s widely believed that he was attracted to the flower for its healing properties and its symbolism. Van Gogh had many ailments in his lifetime and it seems natural that he would gravitate toward a symbol that offered hope. Irises by Van Gogh was the property of collector Joan Whitney Payson until her son sold the painting. Alan Bond purchased the painting on November 11, 1987, at Sotheby’s New York for $53.9 million, according to the New York Times.
4. Portrait of Joseph Roulin by Vincent Van Gogh Price: $58 million-plus other works in exchange
The Portrait of Joseph Roulin is one of many paintings the artist made for the subject and his family. Vincent was known for his paintings of landscapes, but he was passionate about painting portraits. He shared his passion with others of his time who passed the stories about his true passions down through the ages. Joseph Roulin lived in Arles, where he was a postman to earn his living. The painting had been owned by an anonymous private collector in Zurich, Switzerland. The deal to sell the painting was completed in a private sale, to the Museum of Modern Art in New York, on August 1, 1989.
3. A Wheat Field with Cypresses (London Version) Price: $57 million
A Wheat Field with Cypresses is one of Van Gogh’s most famous works. He painted it from the hospital at Arles, inspired by the view from the back window of his room. Van Gogh was allowed to take brief walks outside of the asylum, and to paint n the fresh air. The cypresses around the asylum moved him. He believed the tree reflected the things he was feeling inside, and he captured its essence in the painting. He loved the finished product and made three more of them. The Wheat Field with Cypresses was sold by Emil Georg Buhrle’s son in May of 1993. for $57 million. Walter H. Annenberg purchased it at a private sale. He purchased the painting for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. That is where it is displayed, according to Trip Improver. It was painted at a time when he was undergoing a recovery period for his ailments.
2. Portrait de l’artiste Sans Barbe Price: $71,5 million
Van Gogh’s Portrait de l’artiste Sans Barbe, also known as Self Portrait without beard, is a self-portrait Van Gogh painted of himself, with a clean-shaven face. He painted the portrait in 1889 in oil on canvas. It is believed to be the last self-portrait the artist painted, completed in September of 1889. It is arguably one of Vincent Van Gogh’s most famous self-portraits. The last-known sale of the painting occurred on November 19, 1998. It sold at an auction at Christi’s, New York, by the heirs of Jacques Koefer to an anonymous buyer for a price of $71.5 million. Portrait de l’artiste Sans Barbe is the third most expensive Van Gogh painting sold.
1. Portrait of Dr. Gachet Price: $82.5 million
Widewalls confirms that the most expensive painting of post-impressionist artist Vincent Van Gogh is his Portrait of Dr. Gachet. To fully appreciate its significance and value, one must know some things about its background. Dr. Gachet was the last doctor of Van Gogh. The doctor cared for him in the final years that Van Gogh lived on the earth. Van Gogh created two versions of his famous portrait of Dr. Gachet. He made this version, and another displayed, at Musee d’Orsay, Paris, France. The last known sale of Van Gogh’s Portrait of Dr. Gachet took place on May 15, 1990, offered by Siegried Kramarsky Family. It sold at a Christie’s Auction in New York to Ryoei Saito. The painting had previously sold for $75 million. It’s one of the most remarkable paintings left by Van Gogh. It was pained in Saints Reimy, depicting the doctor with a melancholy expression. It tells us something about Van Gogh’s state of mind when he created the painting. The painting shows Gachet leaning on his arm at a table with a foxglove nearby, known to be a treatment for heart ailments in that era. Gachet is the doctor who pronounced Van Gogh dead after he fatally shot himself. The Portrait of Dr. Gachet is symbolic of suffering amid success in one’s profession. We’ll never know the artist’s true feelings about the painting.