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10 Most Expensive Paintings Ever Sold

Paintings are one the most frequently auctioned items. They are usually sold for outrageous amount of money, more especially when they are the works of famous artists. The huge sums paid for these paintings might seem exorbitant to the layman, but to the aficionados, they are worth every penny.

Below are 10 of the most expensive paintings ever.

1. Salvator Mundi

Artist: Leonardo da Vinci

Buyer: Badr bin Abdullah Al Saud

Price: $450.3 million

Salvator Mundi is a painting by Italian Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci dated to c. 1500. Long thought to be a copy of a lost original veiled with overpainting, it was rediscovered, restored, and included in a major Leonardo exhibition at the National Gallery, London, in 2011–12. It was sold at auction for $450.3 million on 15 November 2017 by Christie’s in New York to Prince Badr bin Abdullah who allegedly made the purchase on behalf of Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism. The sale set a new record for most expensive painting ever sold at public auction. 

2. Interchange

Artist: Willem de Kooning

Buyer: Kenneth C. Griffin

Price: $300 million

Interchange, also known as Interchanged, is an oil on canvas painting by the Dutch-American abstract expressionist painter Willem de Kooning (1904–1997). It measures 200.7 by 175.3 centimetres and was completed in 1955. It was one of de Kooning’s first abstract landscapes, and marked a change in his style under the influence of fellow artist Franz Kline. In September 2015, the painting was sold by the David Geffen Foundation to Kenneth C. Griffin for $300 million.

3. The Card Players

Artist: Paul Cézanne

Buyer: State or Qatar

Price: $250 + 

The Card Players is a series of oil paintings by the French Post-Impressionist artist Paul Cézanne. Painted during Cézanne’s final period in the early 1890s, there are five paintings in the series. The versions vary in size, the number of players, and the setting in which the game takes place. One version of The Card Players was sold in 2011 to the Royal Family of Qatar for a price estimated at $250 million.

4. Nafea Faa Ipoipo (When Will You Marry?)

Artist: Paul Gauguin

Buyer: State of Qatar

Price: $210 million

When Will You Marry? is an oil painting from 1892 by the French Post-Impressionist artist Paul Gauguin. The painting was on loan to the Kunstmuseum in Basel, Switzerland for nearly a half-century until it was sold privately by the family of Rudolf Staechelin to Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad Al-Thani, in February 2015 for close to US $210 million. The painting was on exhibition at the Fondation Beyeler, Riehen, until 28 June 2015.

5. Number 17A

Artist: Jackson Pollock

Buyer: Kenneth C. Griffin

Price: $200 million

Number 17A is a painting by Jackson Pollock, an American painter known for his contributions to the abstract expressionist movement.
In 2015, it was sold by the David Geffen Foundation to Kenneth C. Griffin for $200 million.

6. Wasserschlangen II

Artist: Gustav Klimt

Buyer: Dmitry Rybolovlev

Price: $183.8 million

Wasserschlangen II also known as Water Serpents II in English was created by artist Gustav Klimt between 1904 and 1907. The painting was sold in 2013 by Yves Bouvier, a Swiss art dealer to Russian business man and investor, Dmitry Rybolovlev for $183.8 million.

7. No. 6 (Violet, Green and Red)

Artist: Mark Rothko

Buyer: Dmitry Rybolovlev

Price: $186

No. 6 is a painting by the Russian-American abstract expressionist artist Mark Rothko. It was painted in 1951and consists of large expanses of colour delineated by uneven, hazy shades. In 2014, it became one of the most expensive paintings sold at auction.

8. Pendant portraits of Maerten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppi

Artist: Rembrandt

Buyers: Rijksmuseum and Louvre

Price: $180 million

The pendant portraits of Marten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit are a pair of full-length wedding portraits by Rembrandt. They were painted on the occasion of the marriage of Marten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit in 1634. Formerly owned by the Rothschild family, they became joinedly owned by the Louvre Museum and the Rijksmuseum in 2015 after both museums managed to contribute half of the purchase price of €160 million, a record for works by Rembrandt.

9. Les Femmes d’Alger (“Version O”)

Artist: Pablo Picasso

Buyer: Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani

Price: $179.4

Les Femmes d’Alger is a series of 15 paintings and numerous drawings by the Spanish artist Pablo Picasso. The series, created in 1954–1955, was inspired by Eugène Delacroix’s 1834 painting The Women of Algiers in their Apartment. “Version O” was the last painting in the series and was painted in 1955. The painting was sold for $179.4 million including fees, a record price for a painting at auction at that time. It was bought by the former Qatari prime minister, Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani.

10. Nu couché

Artist: Amedeo Modigliani

Buyer: Liu Yiqian

Price: $179.4

Nu couché is a 1917 oil on canvas painting by the Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani. It is one of his most widely reproduced and exhibited paintings. The painting is one of a famous series of nudes that Modigliani painted in 1917 under the patronage of his Polish dealer Léopold Zborowski. It is believed to have been included in Modigliani’s first and only art show in 1917, at the Galerie Berthe Weill, which was shut down by the police. The painting was sold to Chinese businessman Liu Yiqian at a Christie’s New York sale on 9 November 2015 for $170,405,000. The sale placed it high among the most expensive paintings ever sold.

Written by Emeka Nweze

Content writer and contributor.

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