The 16 most expensive paintings in history

Sometimes it may not be too easy to set a price for a piece of art. This can vary and, above all, increase over time. After all, throughout history each piece has been worth what the two parties, buyer and seller, have decided to agree on.

In the past most of the paintings used to be established as commissions made by burghers or nobles to the artists and their prices were never too high. In fact, artists on this list were never millionaires during their lives and experienced little professional success while today their works sell for millions of euros. Others, like Picasso , did enjoy success and recognition but their pieces were not sold at today’s astronomical prices.

In this list of the most expensive works of art in history , we have focused on pieces from any era that, however, have sold in recent decades and are found in the best art museums in the world or private collections. The reason? That with the art world as a rising value internationally and with collectors and millionaires with great fortunes growing every year, every season art auctions seem to always reach a new record. Although it is increasingly rare for iconic pieces by historical artists to be put up for sale, when one of them hits the market it is common for it to fetch unusual prices. For example, the piece that crowns the list is nothing less than a work by Leonardo Da Vinci,although not one of his best known: Salvatore Mundi , which sold for no less than 450 million dollars.

In fact, Da Vinci would be the author of the most expensive work of art in the world: the Mona Lisa . The Da Vinci painting exhibited at the Louvre Museum has an estimated price of more than 700 million dollars. However, many analysts have ventured to ensure that it could cost more than 50,000 million dollars and that, with it, it could be paid until the coronavirus crisis. In short, it commands an incalculable price in part thanks to the multi-billion profit it creates for the French state, the owner of it.

On the other hand, the following paintings that we have selected, ranging from the Renaissance to the avant-garde through contemporary art or pop-art, have indeed had an exact (and very high) price. We leave you with the most expensive works of art in history.

Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I by Gustav Klimt

This painting cost 135 million dollars, one of the most famous by the Austrian Gustav Klimt. It was acquired by Ronald Lauder, owner of the Neue Galerie in New York. It is painted with oil and gold on canvas and was the first of the author’s golden style, the most successful of his career.

Nu Couche (Sur le cote gauche) by Amedeo Modigliani

This nude by the Italian painter cost more than 152 million dollars and today, after being exhibited in museums such as the Tate Modern, it is in a private collection. Some experts consider it a tribute to La Grande Odalisque by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres.

Le Reve by Pablo Picasso

This cubist oil painting entitled The dream of the most international Spanish painter dates from 1932. Painted at Picasso’s 50th birthday, in it we can see his 22-year-old lover, Marie-Therese Walter. It sold for $155 million in a private sale in 2013 and is part of the private collection of millionaire Steven A. Cohen.

Masterpiece by Roy Lichtenstein

The most expensive painting of the pop-art current cost more than 165 million dollars in 2017. Lichtenstein painted it in 1962 and it was part of his first exhibition at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles in 1963. Like many of his works, he started from the cartoon of a comic.

Nu Couche (1917) by Amedeo Modigliani

The work, also known as the Reclining Nude , represents a naked woman sleeping on a red background and is one of the best known works by the Italian painter. It was sold for 170.4 million in 2015. It was bought by Lui Yiqian, a Chinese millionaire.

Rembrandt van Rijn’s standard bearer

This Rembrandt painting cost 175 million, which the Rijksmuseum bought with the help of the Dutch state. It was painted on the occasion of the artist’s move from Leiden to Amsterdam and is considered one of his most important early works.

Les Femmes d’Alger (Version O) by Pablo Picasso

The Spanish Pablo Picasso painted this painting in 1955 after 14 more versions, this being the last. It sold for $179.3 million at a Christie’s auction in May 2015, and although the buyer has never been identified, he may have been a former Prime Minister of Qatar.

Portraits of Marten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit by Rembrandt van Rijn

Painted by Rembrandt in 1634, they were purchased as a couple for $180 million. They were created to commemorate the couple’s wedding and have always been displayed as a set. They were bought by the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and the Louvre Museum in Paris, which take turns exhibiting them.

Shot Sage Blue Marilyn by Warhol

$195 million was paid last May for this Andy Warhol painting. It is one of the artist’s best-known series, he took the photo from a Niagara promotional poster. It is the most expensive work of art of the 20th century and by an American artist in history.

No. 6 (Violet, Green and Red) by Mark Rothko

This work by the Latvian painter reached 203 million dollars at a private auction, although the figure has never been entirely clear. It was bought by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev and was one of the triggers for the Bouvier Affair, a contentious legal matter against art dealer Yves Bouvier.

Gustav Klimt’s Wasserschlangen II

This oil painting, painted in the first decade of the 20th century by Klimt, cost more than 204 million dollars. It was created as a follow-up to Water Snakes I and focuses on the nature of the female form and same-sex relationships. He was captured by Nazi forces during World War II and later rescued.

Nafea Faa Ipoipo? by Paul Gauguin

Painted in 1892, this oil cost 229 million dollars and has been Gaughin’s most expensive. This Post-Impressionist style painting depicts two young women seated in a blue, green and gold landscape. Its title means When do you get married?

Number 17A by Jackson Pollock

This Pollock painting, painted in 1948, was purchased in 2015 by an investor who later gave it to the Art Institute of Chicago. The work is an oil painting on fiberboard and is done using the artist’s famous drip painting technique.

The Card Players by Paul Cezanne

Painted between 1892 and 1893, this oil painting by Cezanne is one of five that the author created on the same theme: men seated at a table playing cards. At the time, it cost more than $288 million and is currently on display at the Musee d’Orsay in Paris.

Willem de Kooning’s Interchange

Painted in 1955 it sold for more than 328 million dollars. Willem de Kooning, a Dutch-American painter, is considered one of the pioneers of abstract expressionism and this work was pivotal in his career: he moved from painting women to painting abstract urban landscapes.

Salvator Mundi by Leonardo Da Vinci

Painted around the year 1500, this painting by Leonardo Da Vinci depicts Christ holding an orb in one hand and making the sign of the cross with the other. It was auctioned at Christie’s in 2016 and sold for more than $450 million. It was bought by the Prince of Saudi Arabia and, although it is part of his private collection, it is said that he has it on his luxury yacht. The painting had been in the National Gallery for five years before going up for auction.