What is The Most Expensive Artwork Ever Sold? In recent years, the art world has seen some record-breaking sales, with paintings and sculptures fetching hundreds of millions of dollars at auction. While these astronomical prices may seem difficult to comprehend, they actually reflect the growing global demand for fine art. Here are the most expensive artworks ever sold, along with the stories behind them.
1. Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” – $450.3 million
This painting of Jesus Christ by Leonardo da Vinci is the most expensive artwork ever sold. It was purchased by an anonymous buyer at Christie’s in New York for $450.3 million in 2017. The painting had been lost for centuries before it was rediscovered in 2005 and attributed to da Vinci. Since then, it has undergone extensive restoration and had been the subject of intense debate among scholars.
2. Pablo Picasso’s “Les Femmes d’Alger (Version ‘O’)” – $179.4 million
Pablo Picasso’s “Les Femmes d’Alger (Version ‘O’)” is a Cubist painting that depicts a scene from the 1834 French opera “Les femmes d’Alger.” The painting was sold for $179.4 million at Christie’s in 2015, making it the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction at that time. The previous owner of the painting was billionaire casino mogul Steve Wynn, who had bought it for $48.4 million in 1997.
3. Paul Cézanne’s “The Card Players” – $250 million
Paul Cézanne’s “The Card Players” is a series of five oil paintings that depict peasants playing cards. The paintings were commissioned by French industrialist Émile Zola in 1890 and were bought by Qatar Museums in 2012 for a reported price of $250 million, making them the most expensive paintings ever sold. While the exact price paid for the paintings has never been made public, experts believe that they were likely purchased using funds from Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund.
4. Gustav Klimt’s “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I” – $135 million
Gustav Klimt’s “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I” is a painting of Austrian socialite Adele Bloch-Bauer that was commissioned by her husband Ferdinand in 1907. The painting was sold by Maria Altmann to Ronald Lauder for $135 million in 2006, making it the most expensive painting ever sold at auction at that time. Lauder then donated the painting to the Neue Galerie New York, where it currently resides on permanent display.
5. Jackson Pollock’s “No. 5, 1948″ – $140 million
Jackson Pollock is one of the most famous artists of the 20th century, and his drip paintings are some of his most iconic works. “No. 5, 1948″ is one of these drip paintings, and it was sold by David Geffen to an unnamed buyer for $140 million in 2006, making it the most expensive work by an American artist ever sold up to that point. The previous owner of the painting was British Petroleum executive Peter Mankiewicz, who had bought it for $2 million in 1972 from famed art dealer Leo Castelli.
These are just a few examples of some of the most expensive artwork ever sold. As you can see, many of these pieces have interesting stories attached to them, which only adds to their value and desirability. If you’re an artist yourself, perhaps this list will inspire you to create your own masterpiece! Who knows—it could end up fetching a pretty penny someday…
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