List of most expensive paintings

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The Card Players by Paul Cézanne is currently the most expensive painting ever sold.

This is a list of the highest known prices paid for paintings. The earliest sale on the list (Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers by Vincent van Gogh) is from 1987, and more than tripled the previous record price, set only two years before, introducing a new era in top picture prices. The sale was also significant in that for the first time a "modern" painting (in this case from 1888) became the record holder, as opposed to the old master paintings which had always previously held it. Since that time sales of the most valuable paintings have usually been made at auctions, though that had by no means always been the case before, and the list below still shows some "private sales", including the five most expensive. The current record price was paid for The Card Players by Paul Cézanne, which was sold for more than $250 million in 2011.[1][2][3]


The world's most famous paintings, especially old master works done before 1803, are generally owned or held at museums, for viewing for patrons. The museums very rarely sell them, and as such, they are quite literally priceless. Guinness World Records lists the Mona Lisa as having the highest insurance value for a painting in history. It was assessed at US$100 million on December 14, 1962, before the painting toured the United States for several months. However, the Louvre chose to spend the money that would have been spent on the insurance premium on security instead. Taking inflation into account, the 1962 value would be around US$780 million today.

The earliest sale on the list below (Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers by Vincent van Gogh) is from March 1987; with a price of £24.75 million ($82 million in current dollars) it tripled the previous record and introduced a new era in top art sales. Before this, the highest absolute price paid for a painting was £8.1 million ($23 million in current dollars) paid by the J. Paul Getty Museum for Mantegna's Adoration of the Magi at Christie's in London on April 18, 1985.[4] In constant dollars, the highest price paid before 1987 was by the National Gallery of Art when in February 1967 they acquired Leonardo da Vinci's Ginevra de' Benci for around $5 million ($35 million in current dollars) from the Princely Family of Liechtenstein. The sale of Van Gogh's Sunflowers was also significant in that for the first time a "modern" (in this case 1888) painting became the record holder, as opposed to the old master paintings which previously had dominated the market. In contrast, there are currently only seven pre-1850 paintings among the top 48 listed.

Van Gogh, Picasso, and Warhol[edit]

Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, and Andy Warhol are by far the best represented artists in the list. Whereas Picasso and Warhol became wealthy men, Van Gogh (supposedly) sold only one painting in his lifetime, The Red Vineyard, for 400 Francs (about $1600 in 2011) to the impressionist painter and heiress Anna Boch.[5] His seven paintings in the list below alone were sold for over 719 million current dollars.

List of highest prices paid at auctions or private sales (inflation adjusted)[edit]

This list is ordered by consumer price index inflation-adjusted value[note 1] (in bold) in millions of April 2014 United States dollars. Where necessary, the price is first converted to dollars using the exchange rate at the time the painting was sold. The inflation adjustment may change as recent inflation rates are often revised. A list in another currency may be in a slightly different order due to exchange rate fluctuations. Paintings are only listed once, i.e. for the highest price sold.

Adjusted price (in millions)Original price (in millions)PaintingImageArtistYearDate of saleRank at saleSellerBuyerAuction house
$273$259 +[note 2]The Card PlayersCard Players-Paul Cezanne.jpgPaul Cézanne1892/93April 20111George EmbiricosState of QatarPrivate sale [1][2][3]
$164.7$140No. 5, 1948Jackson Pollock1948November 2, 20061David GeffenDavid MartinezPrivate sale via Sotheby's[6]
$161.8$137.5Woman IIIWillem de Kooning1953November 18, 20062David GeffenSteven A. CohenPrivate sale via Larry Gagosian[7]
$157.9$155Le RêvePablo Picasso1932March 26, 20134Steve WynnSteven A. CohenPrivate sale[8]
$157.7$135Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer IGustav Klimt 046.jpgGustav Klimt1907June 18, 20061Maria AltmannRonald Lauder, Neue GaleriePrivate sale via Christie's[9]
$151.4$82.5Portrait of Dr. GachetPortrait of Dr. Gachet.jpgVincent van Gogh1890May 15, 19901Siegfried Kramarsky familyRyoei Saito.[note 3]Christie's, New York
$144.5$142.4Three Studies of Lucian FreudFrancis Bacon1969November 12, 20137Elaine Wynn, ex-wife of Steve Wynn [12]Christie's, New York [13]
$143.3$78.1Bal du moulin de la Galette[note 4]Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Le Moulin de la Galette.jpgPierre-Auguste Renoir1876May 17, 19902Betsey WhitneyRyoei Saito[note 5]Sotheby's, New York
$130.6$104.2Garçon à la pipeGarçon à la pipe.jpgPablo Picasso1905May 4, 20043Greentree foundation (Whitney family)Barilla Group?[14]Sotheby's, New York[15]
$123.7$119.9The Scream[note 6]The Scream Pastel.jpgEdvard Munch1895May 2, 20128Petter OlsenLeon Black [16]Sotheby's, New York
$119.8$110.0Flag[note 7]Jasper Johns1954March 20107Jean-Christophe CastelliSteven A. CohenPrivate sale, estimated price[17]
$115.7$106.5Nude, Green Leaves and BustPablo Picasso1932May 4, 20108Frances Lasker Brody estateChristie's, New York[18]
$112 ++$58 plus exchange of works[note 8]Portrait of Joseph RoulinVincent van Gogh - Portrait of Joseph Roulin.jpgVincent van Gogh1889August 1, 19891Private collection, ZürichMuseum of Modern Art New YorkPrivate sale via Thomas Ammann, Fine Art Zurich[19]
$111.5$95.2Dora Maar au ChatPablo Picasso1941May 3, 20065Gidwitz familyBoris Ivanishvili[20]Sotheby's, New York[21]
$110.7$53.9IrisesIrises-Vincent van Gogh.jpgVincent van Gogh1889November 11, 19871son of Joan Whitney PaysonAlan Bond[note 9]Sotheby's, New York
$109.5$100.0Eight ElvisesAndy Warhol1963October 200810Annibale BerlingieriPrivate sale via Philippe Ségalot[22]
Anna's LightBarnett Newman1968October 4, 201316DIC Corp.Private sale [23][24][25]
$107.2$105.4Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster)Andy Warhol1963November 13, 201318Sotheby's, New York [26]
$103.5$87.9Adele Bloch-Bauer IIGustav Klimt 047.jpgGustav Klimt1912November 2, 20069Maria AltmannChristie's, New York
$103.4$71.5Portrait de l'artiste sans barbeVincent Willem van Gogh 102.jpgVincent van Gogh1889November 19, 19985Heirs of Jacques Koerfer (de)Christie's, New York
Massacre of the Innocents0 Le Massacre des Innocents d'après P.P. Rubens - Musées royaux des beaux-arts de Belgique (2).JPGPeter Paul Rubens1611July 10, 20026an Austrian familyKenneth Thomson[note 10]Sotheby's, London
$94.4$86.3Triptych, 1976Francis Bacon1976May 14, 200813Moueix Family, Château Pétrus[28]Roman Abramovich[29]Sotheby's, New York[30]
$94.0$80.0False StartJasper Johns1959October 12, 200610David GeffenKenneth C. GriffinPrivate sale via Richard Gray [31]
$93.7$57A Wheatfield with CypressesVincent Willem van Gogh 049.jpgVincent van Gogh1889May 19935son of Emil Georg BührleWalter H. Annenberg[note 11]Private sale via Steven Mazoh
Les Noces de PierrettePablo Picasso1905November 30, 19893Fredrik Roos (sv)[32]Tomonori TsurumakiBinoche et Godeau Paris
$91.6$47.8Yo, PicassoPablo Picasso1901May 9, 19892Wendell Cherry (de)Stavros NiarchosSotheby's, New York
$91.2$80.0Turquoise MarilynAndy Warhol1964May 20, 200717Stefan EdlisSteven A. CohenPrivate sale via Larry Gagosian[33]
$90.0$70.0Portrait of Alfonso d'Avalos, Marquis of Vasto, in Armor with a PageTitian - Marchese del Vasto.jpgTitian1533November 200310AXA insurance companyGetty MuseumPrivate sale via Hervé Aaron[34][35]
$89.6$86.9Orange, Red, YellowMark Rothko1961May 8, 201225Estate of David PincusChristie's, New York[36]
Le Bassin aux NymphéasLe bassin aux nymphéas - Claude Monet.jpgClaude Monet1919June 24, 200820J. Irwin and Xenia S. MillerChristie's, London[37]
$86.3$60.5Rideau, Cruchon et Compotier[note 12]Paulcezanneart.jpgPaul Cézanne1894May 10, 19999Whitney FamilySotheby's, New York
$84.2$84.2Black Fire IBarnett Newman1961May 13, 201432Private CollectionAnonymousChristie's, New York [39]
Vase with Fifteen SunflowersVincent Willem van Gogh 127.jpgVincent van Gogh1888March 30, 19871daughter-in-law of Chester BeattyYasuo Goto, Yasuda Comp.Christie's, London
$83.0$72.8White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose)Mark Rothko1950May 15, 200720David Rockefeller, Sr.Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani[40]Sotheby's, New York[41]
$81.8$71.7Green Car Crash (Green Burning Car I)Andy Warhol1963May 16, 200721Private collection, ZürichPhilip NiarchosChristie's, New York[42]
$80.8$80.8Three Studies for a Portrait of John EdwardsFrancis Bacon1984May 13, 201436Private CollectionAnonymousChristie's, New York [39]
Diana and Actaeon

Titian - Diana and Actaeon - 1556-1559.jpg

Titian1556–1559February 1, 200926Duke of SutherlandNational Galleries of Scotland & National Gallery, LondonPrivate sale[43][44][45]
$78.9$75–$80Salvator MundiLeonardo da Vinci or Boltraffio (attrib) Salvator Mundi circa 1500.jpgLeonardo Da Vinci1490-1519May 201333Robert SimonAnonymousPrivate sale [46]
(€50-60) [note 13]
Darmstadt MadonnaDarmstadtmadonna.jpgHans Holbein1526July 12, 201130Donatus, Hereditary Prince of HesseReinhold WürthPrivate sale via Christoph Graf Douglas[47]
$78.0$68The Gross ClinicThomas Eakins, American - Portrait of Dr. Samuel D. Gross (The Gross Clinic) - Google Art Project.jpgThomas Eakins1875April 12, 200720Thomas Jefferson UniversityPhiladelphia Museum of ArtPrivate sale.[48]
$77.0$75.1No 1 (Royal Red and Blue)Mark Rothko1954November 13, 201234John and Anne MarionSotheby's, New York [49]
$76.6$40.7Au Lapin AgilePablo Picasso1904November 27, 19895daughter of Joan Whitney PaysonWalter H. AnnenbergSotheby's, New York
Acrobate et jeune arlequin[note 14]Pablo Picasso1905November 28, 19883heir of Roger Janssen? [note 15]MitsukoshiChristie's, London
$74.9$55.0Femme aux Bras CroisésPablo Picasso, 1901-02, Femme aux Bras Croisés, Woman with Folded Arms (Madchenbildnis), oil on canvas, 81 × 58 cm (32 × 23 in).jpgPablo Picasso1902November 8, 200013McCormick family, ChicagoChristie's, New York[50]
$74.7$69.0Nude Sitting on a Divan ("La Belle Romaine")Amedeo Modigliani 063.jpgAmedeo Modigliani1917November 2, 201033Halit Cıngıllıoglu[51]Sotheby's, New York[52]
$74.6$63.5Police Gazette[53]Willem de Kooning1955October 12, 200619David GeffenSteven A. CohenPrivate sale via Richard Gray [31]
Diana and CallistoTitianDianaCallistoEdinburgh.jpgTitian1556–1559March 2, 201237Duke of SutherlandNational Galleries of Scotland & National Gallery, LondonPrivate sale[54]
$70.2$47.5Peasant Woman Against a Background of WheatVincent Willem van Gogh 097.jpgVincent van Gogh1890199711Steve Wynn[note 16]Private sale via Acquavella Galleries Inc., New York[56]
$69.7$49.5Femme assise dans un jardinPablo Picasso1938November 10, 199915Robert Saidenberg[57]Sotheby's, New York
Eagle Standing on Pine Tree[58]Qi Baishi1946May 22, 201138Liu YiqianHunan TV & Broadcast Intermediary Co[59]China Guardian Auctions
$68.7$63.4Men in Her LifeAndy Warhol1962November 8, 201037Jose MugrabiPhillips de Pury & Company[60]
$67.4$35.2Portrait of a HalberdierPontormo (Jacopo Carucci) (Italian, Florentine) - Portrait of a Halberdier (Francesco Guardi?) - Google Art Project.jpgPontormo1537May 31, 19895Chauncey Devereaux StillmanGetty MuseumChristie's, New York
$67.0$60.0Suprematist CompositionSuprematist Composition - Kazimir Malevich.jpgKazimir Malevich1916November 3, 200834Heirs of Kazimir MalevichSotheby's, New York[61]
$66.2$66.2UntitledMark Rothko1952May 13, 201454Private CollectionAnonymousChristie's, New York [39]
Zhichuan Resettlement[62]ZhichuanResettlement.jpgWang Meng1350June 4, 201142Beijing Poly Auction

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Using the U.S. Department Of Labor's April 2014 historical consumer price index table (Table 24 in the pdf file), representing the U.S. city average for all urban consumers. The average between 1982 and 1984 is set to 100; the CPI-U for April 2014 was 237.072
  2. ^ Exact price (even the currency of sale) is not known, with estimates from $259 million to even $300 million
  3. ^ Reportedly, Gachet's portrait was privately resold to a European buyer in 1997 or 1998 for $65-$90 million through Sotheby’s[10][11]
  4. ^ This is the small version of the painting; the large version is at Musée d'Orsay.
  5. ^ Privately resold for ca. $50 million through Sotheby’s in 1997[11]
  6. ^ One of two pastel versions; another two painted versions (and lithography) exist, all created by Munch
  7. ^ Most expensive painting by a living artist
  8. ^ The paintings transferred to the dealers include a late Monet entitled Corona (Water Lilies) from around 1920; Renoir's Reclining Nude of 1902, Kandinsky's Autumn Landscape, Murnau from 1908, and Picasso's Striped Bodice from September 1943.
  9. ^ Alan Bond could not pay off the painting, and Irises was resold (probably for somewhat less) to the Getty Museum.
  10. ^ Later in 2002, Thomson donated his private collection, including the Rubens, to the Art Gallery of Ontario[27]
  11. ^ Annenberg donated it subsequently to the Metropolitan Museum of Art
  12. ^ Steve Wynn, who bid on the painting at auction, privately acquired the work several months later from the unidentified buyer for an undisclosed, supposedly lower price. Kenneth Griffin acquired it in 2004 from Wynn.[38]
  13. ^ Usually estimated at "over €50 M" or "between 50 and 60 million Euros". $75M would have been €53M on July 12, 2011.
  14. ^ resold for £12m to Stavros Niarchos in 1993
  15. ^ A Belgian banker and collector who bought it in 1939 for $18,000. His was the last name on the 1988 provenance list; painting came from "a private collection in Arizona"
  16. ^ On Oct. 7, 2005, The New York Times reported that Steven Cohen bought van Gogh's "Peasant Woman Against a Background of Wheat" and Gauguin's "Bathers" (1903) from Steve Wynn for approximately $110 million,[55] though guesses range from $100-150 million. One or both of the paintings may thus occur higher on this list.


  1. ^ a b Art Media Agency (AMA), 250 M$, a new record for a painting?, 4 May 2011
  2. ^ a b Stefan Koldehoff, Welt-online: Das Rätsel vom teuersten Bild aller Zeiten, 31 July 2011 (already mentions Qatar as most likely buyer)
  3. ^ a b Peers, Alexandra (January 2012). "Qatar Purchases Cézanne’s The Card Players for More Than $250 Million, Highest Price Ever for a Work of Art". QuatarSale. Retrieved 2012-02-03. 
  4. ^ William Wilson, Getty Pays $10.5 Million For Painting, New York Times, April 19, 1985
  5. ^ The Red Vineyard Painting at
  6. ^ Carol Vogel, A Pollock Is Sold, Possibly for a Record Price, New York Times, November 2, 2006
  7. ^ Carol Vogel, Landmark De Kooning Crowns Collection, New York Times, November 18, 2006
  8. ^ Carol Vogel & Peter Lattman, $616 Million Poorer, Hedge Fund Owner Still Buys Art, New York Times, March 26, 2013
  9. ^ Carol Vogel, Lauder Pays $135 Million, a Record, for a Klimt Portrait, New York Times, June 19, 2006
  10. ^ ARTnews: The Most Wanted Works of Art
  11. ^ a b artnet: the silent boom
  12. ^ Carol Vogel, Buyer of $142.4 Million Bacon Triptych Identified as Elaine Wynn, New York Times, January 15, 2014
  13. ^ Vogel, Carol (November 12, 2013). "Bacon's Study of Freud Sells for $142.4 Million". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved November 13, 2013. 
  14. ^ Claire Foy-Smith, Who buys paintings for $104m?, BBC News Online, 6 May 2004
  15. ^ Lot description and auction details of "Garçon à la pipe" at Sotheby's website.
  16. ^ Kelly Crow, An Art Mystery Solved: Mogul Is 'Scream' Buyer, The Wall Street Journal, July 11, 2012
  17. ^ The New York Times Planting a Johns ‘Flag’ in a Private Collection
  18. ^ Picasso piece sets record for art sold at auction, Reuters, May 5, 2010
  19. ^ Kimmelman, Michael: How the MoMA got the Van Gogh, New York Times, 09 October 1989.
  20. ^ Marc Spiegler, he Hunt for the Red Collector, New York Magazine, 22 August 2006.
  21. ^ Lot description and auction details of "Dora Maar au Chat" at Sotheby's website.
  22. ^ The Pop master's highs and lows, The Economist, 26 November 2009.
  23. ^ DIC Sells 'Anna's Light' Painting For Y10.3bn Gain
  24. ^ Barnett Newman "Anna's Light" (Japanese)
  25. ^ Regarding extraordinary profit associated with the sale of a certain painting owned by the company and revision of its consolidated operating result forecast
  26. ^ Silver Car Crash auction results at Sotheby's
  27. ^ Mr. Kenneth Thomson’s gift to the AGO of his art collection -- the most significant private art collection in Canada – will add 2,000 outstanding works to the Art Gallery of Ontario, archived from the original on 2006-10-08, retrieved 2013-09-02 
  28. ^ Wine Spectator Online: Unfiltered (21 May 2008). "Château Pétrus Makes a Record-Breaking Sale—of Art". 
  29. ^ Cristina Ruiz and Sarah Thornton Roman Abramovich brings home the $86.3m Bacon and the $33.6m Freud, The Art Newspaper, 1 June 2008
  30. ^ Lot description and auction details of "Triptych, 1976" at Sotheby's website.
  31. ^ a b Carol Vogel, Works by Johns and de Kooning Sell for $143.5 Million, The New york Times, October 12, 2006
  32. ^ Judd Tully, Auction; `Blue' Picasso Breaks Record at $51.7 Million, The Washington Post, Dec 1, 1989
  33. ^ Carol Vogel, Inside Art: Buying a Warhol 'Marilyn', New York Times, 25 May 2007
  34. ^ The Getty secures masterpiece portrait by Titian, a November 24, 2003 press release by the Getty Museum
  35. ^ Will Bennett, The $70 million soldier, The Daily Telegraph, 23 February 2004
  36. ^ Mark Rothko painting sets post-war auction record, The Daily Telegraph, 9 May 2012
  37. ^ Lot description and auction details of "Le bassin aux nymphéas" at Christie's website
  38. ^ ARTnews: Cohen Buys Two Works from Wynn in $120M Deal
  39. ^ a b c [1]
  40. ^ Thornton, Sarah; Adam, Georgina (May 4, 2008). "Revealed: $72.8m Rockefeller Rothko has gone to Qatar". The Art Newspaper. 
  41. ^ Lot description and auction details of "White Center" at Sotheby's website.
  42. ^ Lot description and auction details of "Green Car Crash" at Christie's website
  43. ^ Farah Nayeri, U.K. Buys Titian Diana Painting for 50 Million Pounds, Bloomberg, February 2, 2009
  44. ^ Mike Wade, Titian deal paves way for next acquisition, The Sunday Times, 2 February 2009
  45. ^ Funds secured for Titian painting, BBC News, 2 February 2009
  46. ^ Reyburn, Scott. Recently Attributed Leonardo Painting Was Sold Privately for Over $75 Million. New York Times. 3 March 2014. [2]
  47. ^ Greatest German Renaissance Madonna sold by prince, The Art Newspaper, July 15, 2011
  48. ^ Salisbury, Stephan (November 14, 2006), A divisive deal, The Philadelphia Inquirer
  49. ^ No. 1 (Royal Red and Blue at Sotheby's
  50. ^ Lot description and auction details of "Femme aux bras croisés" at Christie's website
  51. ^ Kelly Crow, Sotheby's Sells $68.9 Million Modigliani, Wall Street Journal, November 3, 2010
  52. ^ Nu assis sur un divan auction details at Sotheby's
  53. ^ "Willem de Kooning". Retrieved 2013-04-30. 
  54. ^ Pauline McLean BBC Scotland arts correspondent. "Titian masterpiece Diana and Callisto saved for nation". Retrieved 2012-03-01. 
  55. ^ sGallery: A Gauguin and a van Gogh Change Hands
  56. ^ Carol Vogel, A Gauguin and a van Gogh Change Hands, New York Times, Oct 7, 2005
  57. ^ Carter B. Horsley, The Collection of Eleanore and Daniel Saidenberg
  58. ^ China auction sees Qi Baishi painting sell for $65m
  59. ^ The buyer of 422.5 Million Qi Baishi painting revealed
  60. ^ Carol Vogel, Auction Records Fall at Phillips’s Sale of Contemporary Masters, NY Times, November 10, 2010
  61. ^ Lot description and auction details of "Suprematist Composition" at Sotheby's website.
  62. ^ Wang Meng painting auction for $62 million

External links[edit]