The ten most expensive paintings ever sold include three of Picasso’s works. These are “The Boy with a Pipe”, “Nude, Green Leaves and Bust” and “The Dream”. Two of his paintings depicted his model-mistress Marie-Thérèse Walter, and all three works were sold for more than $100 million at auctions.
Currently, the world’s most expensive painting record holder is by Paul Cézanne’s “The Card Players”. The most expensive piece was sold for $250 million to the Royal Family of Qatar. Peek through the world’s most expensive paintings that cost more than $100 million each.
10- PABLO PICASSO, BOY WITH A PIPE – $104.2 MILLION
The “Boy with a Pipe” is one of Pablo Picasso’s masterpieces, painted in 1905 when he was 24 years old during his Rose Period. The oil on canvas painting depicts a Parisian boy holding a pipe in his left hand and wearing a garland or wreath of flowers. The boy who modeled for Picasso is called “Little Louis”.
The painting was first owned by John Hay Whitney in 1950 for $30,000, before it was sold to Guido Barilla, at Sotheby’s auction in New York City in 2004. The painting was given a pre-sale estimate of US$70 million by the auction house but was sold for more than $104 million.
9- PABLO PICASSO, NUDE, GREEN LEAVES AND BUST – $106.5 MILLION
Pablo Picasso’ s 1932 painting is one of his many masterpieces that featured Marie-Thérèse Walter. Marie-Thérèse Walter is the French mistress and model of Pablo Picasso from 1927 to about 1935, and the mother of his daughter, Maya Widmaier-Picasso. The painting was in the personal collection of Los Angeles art collectors Sidney and Frances Brody for nearly six decades. It is currently on show at Tate Modern in London, alongside other Picasso paintings from the gallery’s own collection.
When inflation is ignored, the painting broke the record price for an artwork sold at auction for $106.5 million, until it was surpassed by the selling of The Scream in 2012 for $120 million. Bidding for the “Nude” began at $58 million and the 5-by-4-foot painting was sold to a winning bid of $106.5 by an unknown buyer.
8- JASPER JOHNS, FLAG – $110 MILLION
The hot wax painting of the United States Flag, is a visual art by the American artist Jasper Johns between 1954-1955. Johns created the encaustic painting two years after he was discharged from the US military. This inspiration came to life, after having a dream of the American flag.
His work is often described as a Neo-Dadaist, categorized with minor audio and visual art movement. Unlike other artists, Johns masterpieces emphasized the work of art produced rather than on the concept of generating the work. The piece was privately sold to Steven Cohen for $110 million in 2010.
7- EDVARD MUNCH, THE SCREAM – $120 MILLION
“Skrik”, is a masterpiece of the Norwegian painter and expressionist artist Edvard Munch between 1893 and 1910. The Scream is a popular piece created as both paintings and pastels. There are four versions of this artwork called Der Schrei der Natur (The Scream of Nature), all depicting a figure with an agonized expression against a landscape with a tumultuous orange sky. Two of the four versions are displayed at the Munch Museum.
In 2004, one of the Skrik paintings and Madonna were stolen from the Munch Museum and were both recovered two years later. While the third piece from the collection, displayed at the National Gallery, in Oslo Norway was stolen in 1994 but was recovered several months later. The fourth version from the collection was sold to Leon Black for $119.9 million in May 2012.
6- GUSTAV KLIMT, PORTRAIT OF ADELE BLOCH-BAUER 1 – $135 MILLION
This piece was created by Austrian symbolist painter Gustav Klimt, one of the most prominent members of the Vienna Secession movement. Klimt is noted for his art works, depicting the female body. His paintings, sketches and murals and other art object are marked by frank eroticism. The Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I was sold to the Neue Galerie in New York, owned by Ronald Lauder. It has been on display at the gallery since July 2006.
5- WILLEM DE KOONING, WOMAN III – $137.5 MILLION
This abstract creation was painted by Willem de Kooning as his contribution to the abstract impressionist movement. Woman III is one of a series of six paintings painted between 1951 and 1953 in which the central theme was a woman. It measures 68 by 48 1⁄2 inches (1.73 by 1.23 m) and was completed in 1953.
For nearly two decades, the painting was part of the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art collection. However, after the revolution in 1979, this painting could not be shown because of the strict rules set by the government about the visual arts and what they depict. The painting was traded to David Geffen in 1994 and was sold in 1996. Steven A. Cohen bought it for $137.5 million, making it the third most expensive painting ever sold at the time.
4- JACKSON POLLOCK, NO. 5 – $140 MILLION
An American painter created this abstract painting as a contribution to the abstract expressionist movement. It’s on an 8′ × 4′ sheet of fiberboard, with thick amounts of brown and yellow paint drizzled on top of it, forming a nest-like appearance. It was originally displayed at the Museum of Modern Art.
The painting was first owned by Samuel Irving Newhouse, Jr. before being sold to David Geffen. In 2006, the piece was rumored to be under the ownership of David Martinez. Martinez who is a die-hard art collector, known for amassing multiple modern artworks, denied the speculations.
3- FRANCIS BACON, THREE STUDIES OF LUCIAN FREUD – $142.4 MILLION
Francis Bacon’s 1969 oil-on-canvas triptych depicting artist Lucian Freud is a multi-panel work of art. It was painted in three carved panels which are hinged together and can be folded shut or displayed open. Freud and Bacon were good friends and artistic rivals.
The two artists painted each other several times, starting in 1951, until an argument that broke their friendship in the mid-1970s. The Three Studies of Lucian Freud was the highest price attained at auction for a work of art when not factoring in inflation. It was also the most expensive triptych sold at an auction. The triptych was sold in November 2013 for $142.4 million.
2- PABLO PICASSO, LE RÊVE – $155 MILLION
“The Dream” is a 130 × 97 cm oil painting oil painting by Pablo Picasso in 1932. The masterpiece is depicting Picasso’s 22-year-old mistress Marie-Thérèse Walter. According to some critics, Picasso had included some erotic touches to this piece.
Critics pointed out that the artist painted erect male genitalia, presumably symbolizing his own, in the upturned face of his model. The painting had been passed on to several collectors from Wolfgang Flöttl to Steve Wynn to Steven A. Cohen who bought the piece for an estimated sum of $155 million in 2013
1- PAUL CEZANE, THE CARD PLAYERS – $259 MILLION
This masterpiece was created by a French painter, Paul Cezanne, in the early 1890s. The creation is still considered as the most expensive one that has ever been sold. This was painted in the year between 1892-93 showcasing post-impressionist art. There are five paintings in the series, and each painting varies in size and the number of players it depicted. This last version of the paintings that depict two card players were sold in 2011 to the Royal Family of Qatar for a price estimated $273 million, making it the most expensive work of art ever sold at an auction.