In the world of fine art, competition is often fierce for rare and extraordinary works by acknowledged masters. In recent years, auction prices for these artworks have soared into the stratosphere, with wealthy collectors from around the globe bidding against one another for ownership. Of course, many of the world’s most valuable artworks reside in museums, and we can only guess at what a masterwork like the Mona Lisa or Starry Night might sell for today. Among paintings still in private hands, here are the top 5 most expensive pieces:
1. Salvator Mundi – Leonardo da Vinci – $450.3 million
This painting was generally believed to have been destroyed before it was rediscovered in 2005. It depicts Jesus Christ in Renaissance dress with his right hand raised in benediction (the Latin title means “Savior of the World”). Although some scholars still debate its attribution, that didn’t prevent it from smashing previous auction records when it was sold in 2017.
2. Interchange – Willem de Kooning – $300 million
This abstract work holds the record for the most expensive contemporary painting ever sold. Completed in 1955, it was one of de Kooning’s first abstract landscapes. The painting was purchased by Kenneth C. Griffin along with number 5 on this list for a total of $500 million in 2015.
3. The Card Players, 1892/1893 – Paul Cezanne – $269.4 million
In the early 1890s, Cezanne painted a series of five works depicting men playing cards in various groupings. This painting, one of three in the series depicting only two players intently focused on their game, is the last privately held painting in the series. It was sold to the royal family of Qatar in 2011.
4. Nafea Faa Ipoipo (When Will You Marry) – Paul Gauguin – $210 million
This painting, one of many Gauguin composed based on his experiences in Tahiti, features two native women, one dressed in traditional garb and the other, seated behind her, in Western dress. Although this and his other Tahitian paintings failed to attract interest during the artists’ lifetime, his talent gained recognition after his death in 1903.
5. Number 17A – Jackson Pollock – $200 million
Jackson Pollock was a major contributor to the abstract expressionist movement, known for his unique style of composing his work through dripping and splattering paint on a canvas until he felt the work was complete. This example of that period of his work, completed in 1948, sold together with number 3 on this list to a billionaire collector.
Of course, those of us without millions to spend can still enjoy fine art. At AuctionKing.com, we search out notable originals, prints, serigraphs, lithographs, giclees, and etchings from all over the world. We triple-check the authenticity of every item so that you can bid with confidence. Bidding starts as low as $1! Register today for a free online account to start bidding and start winning.