In 2008, Damien Hirst made history when he decided to skip the art gallery system and sell an entire show of his work directly through auction. It paid off, netting him $198 million and the title of the world’s richest artist. But that was then and this is now. Does Hirst’s fortune still dwarf the rest of the art world, or has someone come along to steal his crown? Find out as we count down the 10 richest painters in the world.
10. Gerhard Richter – Net Worth: $40 Million
Kicking things off with a net worth of $40 million is Gerhard Richter, a German-born artist best known for his abstract and photo-realistic paintings. His fortune has two sales, in particular, to thank for its size: in 2011, he sold a painting from 1997 for a grand total of $20.8 million, over $11 million more than expected. Ten years prior to that, he netted $18 million for a 1987 painting that had been expected to reach only half that.
9. Antony Gormley – Net Worth: $50 Million
British-born artist Sir Antony Gormley is known primarily as the creator of the Angel of the North, Field for the British Isles, and Quantum Cloud. At the height of Gormley’s fame in 2008, The Daily Telegraph named him as the 4th most powerful person in British culture. He’s also been recognized with the Turner Prize, multiple honorary doctorates and fellowships, the Laurence Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance for the set design for “Babel,” an OBE, and a knighthood. According to Wikipedia, his auction record is £3,401,250 for a maquette of the Angel of the North. He currently has a net worth of around $50 million.
8. Takashi Murakami – Net Worth: $100 Million
Up next is Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, an internationally renowned painter whose creations center on depicting Japanese culture through age-old Japanese traditions. Perhaps most famous for straddling the divide between high and low arts, he’s as well known for his work in the fine arts as in fashion, anime, and merchandise. His creations have long drawn the big bucks at auction, with some of his biggest sales including Hiropon, which drew $427,500 at Christie’s in 2002, Miss ko2, which sold for $567,500 in 2003, and My Lonesome Cowboy, which fetched $15.2 million at Sotheby’s. His current net worth is estimated to be in the region of $100 million.
7. Andrew Vicari – Net Worth: $142 million
Andrew Vicari built his career as a portrait painter of prominent figures. In 2001, he scooped a record $27 million after selling 125 paintings to Prince Khaled. Despite being a largely unknown name outside of the art world, his fortune is significant, with current estimations putting it at around $142 million.
6. David Hockney – Net Worth: $150 Million
David Hockney is widely considered to be one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. As one of the first artists to make extensive use of acrylic paint, his contribution to the Pop Art movement of the 1960s can’t be underestimated. Over the years, his works have appeared across countless exhibitions, stages, and books. According to Celebrity Net Worth, he became the most expensive living artist in the world in 2018 after one of his paintings sold for $90.3 million. Just a little earlier that year, he’d bagged $28.5 million for another painting. Since 2012, he’s run the David Hockney Foundation, which aims to increase knowledge and appreciation of art amongst the public. He’s currently estimated to be worth $150 million.
5. David Choe – Net Worth: $300 Million
Graffiti artist, painter, graphic novelist, and muralist David Choe might be a world away from the fine artists of yesterday, but it hasn’t stopped him from earning a giant fortune. Best known for his “dirty style” figure paintings, the bulk of his wealth derives from Facebook shares: back in 2007, Mark Zuckerberg asked him to contribute some murals to the walls of the Facebook office, with payment to be made in Facebook stock rather than cash. When the company went public in 2012, Choe suddenly found himself with a lot more in his bank account than he’d had before. He’s now worth around $300 million.
4. Jasper Johns – Net Worth: $300 Million
Contemporary artist Jasper Johns is best known for his contributions to the Abstract Expressionism, Neo-Dada, and Pop Art movements. Works such as Flags, Numbers, Maps, and Stenciled Words have bought him international recognition and acclaim, not to mention the Grand Prize for Painting at the Venice Biennial Artist of the year in 1998, the Presidential Media of Freedom, National Medal of Artist, and countless other acoldaes. In addition to his achievement in printmaking, sculpture, painting, and multimedia. he’s also achieved a vast amount of success with the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts, a nonprofit established in 1963 with the aim of encouraging and fostering artistic endeavors. He’s currently worth around $300 million.
3. Jeff Koons – Net Worth: $500 Million
Jeff Koons is a 65-year-old American artist best known for works such as Bouquet of Tulips and Banality. Several of his pieces have drawn huge sums at auction over the years, most notably Balloon Dog (Orange), which sold at Christie’s auction house for a massive $58.4 million, and Rabbit, which sold in 2019 for $91.1 million. He now ranks as one of the richest artists in the world with a net worth of $500 million.
2. Anish Kapoor – Net Worth: $700 million
Up next is Anish Kapoor with a net worth of $700 million. Born in Mumbai, India in 1954, Kapoor moved to London in 1973 to study art at Hornsey College of Art and later at the Chelsea School of Art and Design. He’s remained in London ever since, building a lucrative career thanks to works such as Cloud Gate, Sky Mirror, Kensington Gardens, Temenos, Leviathan, and ArcelorMittal Orbit. Over the years, he’s received numerous accolades, including the Premio Duemila Prize, the Turner Prize, the Unilever Commission for the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern in London, and a knighthood. His current net worth is $700 million.
1. Damien Hirst – Net Worth: $700 Million
Damien Hirst is an art collector, entrepreneur, and artist who came to fame as one of the Young British Artists (YBA) of the 1990s and hasn’t left the spotlight since. He’s perhaps most famous for his installation artwork featuring dead animals preserved in formaldehyde and displayed in clear cases. His ‘spin’ and ‘spot’ paintings have also earned him considerable attention. As one of the most commercially successful artists of all time, he made history in 2008 when he auctioned off his work at Sotheby’s for a record $198 million. Today, he’s worth an estimated $700 million.