Wealthy buyers from all over Europe, Asia and the Middle East have set a string of records as they have snapped up paintings from notable artists in the world. Although these paintings are old, the amount at which they are sold signifies how highly valued they remain in this modern world. Here are the top ten most expensive paintings in the world. (The prices shown are all adjusted for inflation.)
MONA LISA BY LEONARDO DA VINCI: Many people would probably agree that the Mona Lisa, painted by High Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci, is priceless. Putting a price on a masterpiece of this calibre is nearly impossible; however, in 1962, the Mona Lisa was insured for $100 million USD, the highest at the time. In today’s money, that would be somewhere around $700 million USD, easily making it the most expensive painting. One of the most famous paintings as well, the Mona Lisa is a lovely portrait believed to be that of Lisa Gherardini, the wife of Florentine cloth merchant Francesco del Giocondo. Due to its pricelessness, the only way to see this beauty is by visiting the Louvre Museum in Paris – just be prepared for extremely large crowds.
INTERCHANGE BY WILLEM DE KOONING: In the fall of 2015, Ken Griffin, a billionaire hedge fund investor, bought the interchange alongside another painting for from David Geffen, a successful business magnate for a grand total of $500 million. According to sources, the price of the interchange which was painted by Williem De Kooning was sold for around $300 million USD.
WHEN WILL YOU MARRY BY PAUL GAUGUIN: Paul Gauguin’s 1982 picture of two Tahitian girls became the world’s most expensive single work of art when Qatar bought the canvas from a Swiss collector for almost $212 million in February. It was painted during Gauguin’s first trip to Tahiti, where he said he travelled to escape everything that was artificial and conventional in Europe.
THE CARD PLAYERS BY PAUL CÉZANNE: On April 11, George Embiricos sold the 1892 Paul Cezanne card players to the state of Qatar for a record price of $366m. Qatar had bought this painting along with dozens of major Western works that for its museum in recent years. The painting featured two stony-faced card players, models selected by Cézanne from his family’s estate outside Aix-en-Provence: the gardener and a farm hand.
NO.6 (VIOLET, GREEN AND RED) BY MARK ROTHKO: In August 2014, Dmitry Rybolovlev, a Russian billionaire, paid $186 million, setting a record for a 1951 mark Rothko painting. However, it is now subject to a legal dispute with Mr Rybolovlev accusing Yves Bouvier, an art dealer, of misleading him about the price.
LES FEMMES D’ALGER (VERSION O) BY PABLO PICASSO: On the 11th of may 2015, the Les femmes d’algiers (version o) painting by Picasso was bought for a record-breaking price of $179.3m by Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani. Picasso created a series of 15 variations of Les femmes d’Alger inspired by the French master Eugene Delacroix who in 1834 had painted The Women of Algiers in their Apartment. Version O marks the culmination of the series and has long been considered the most important Picasso in private hands.
No. 5, 1948 BY JACKSON POLLOCK: On the 2nd of November 2006, Sotheby brokered the No. 5 1948 painting sale in secret. The 8-foot by 4-foot piece of fibreboard, covered in drips of brown and yellow paint was reportedly bought by David Martinez for a record $165.4m from David Geffen, the Dreamworks co-founder and entertainment magnate. Mr Martinez’s law firm later issued a statement saying that the painting did not belong to him.
WOMAN III BY WILLEM DE KOONING: On the 18th of November 2006, David Geffen sold another painting for $162.4 m to Steven Cohen, a hedge fund billionaire. The painting was the third in a series of six paintings by de Kooning, an abstract expressionist, done between 1951 and 1953. It was part of the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art collection, which meant it disappeared from view after strict rules on images of women introduced after the 1979 revolution.
LE RÉVE BY PABLO PICASSO: Steven Cohen, founder of SAC Capital and one of Wall Street’s biggest art collectors bought the 1932 Picasso painting; Le Reve at a record price of 158.5m. The deal had originally been agreed in 2006, but its owner Steve Wynn, the casino magnate, accidentally put his elbow through the canvas because of his failing eyesight. The deal went through after it had been repaired.
PORTRAIT OF ADELE BLOCK-BAUER I BY GUSTAV KLIMT: On the 18th of June 2006, Gustav Klint portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I was sold to Ronald Lauder, the cosmetics magnate for a record $158.4m by Maria Altman. The painting was seized by the Nazis during the Second World War and reclaimed by the rightful owner’s niece only when she was in her eighties. This extraordinary story was told in a recent film, Woman in Gold, starring Helen Mirren.