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Most Expensive Paintings In The World

Updated on May 2, 2012

The Twenty Most Expensive Paintings Ever Sold

It is amazing what some people will pay for art. It's understandable that there is a monetary value to famous paintings. Many factors go into the pricing of art ranging from who the artist is,what the topic is and the arts condition.

This lens will show you the most expensive paintings in the world. Some of them are beautiful. Some will leave you scratching your head that someone paid that much for it.

The worlds most expensive paintings are not made up. People actually paid this much money for the following art. Below, I'll list the art from the least expensive to the most expensive.

#20 - Femme aux Bras Croisés (Woman with Folded Arms), 1902 - Pablo Picasso

Femme aux Bras Croisés
Femme aux Bras Croisés

Pablo Picasso - Femme aux Bras Croisés is a famous painting by Pablo Picasso. It was painted during his Blue Period during 1902. The woman in the painting is not known but it is thought that she may be an inmate at the Saint-Lazare hospital-prison in Paris.

The #20th most expensive painting in the world was originally purchased by Gertrude Stein from Picasso. In 1936 it joined the art collection of the family of Chauncey McCormich who lent it to the Art Institute of Chicago. In 2000, Femme aux Bras Croisés was sold for over $55 million dollars at a Christie's auction.

Sold for $55 million in 2000

#19 - A Wheatfield with Cypresses, 1889 - Vincent van Gogh

Wheatfield with Cypresses
Wheatfield with Cypresses

A Wheatfield with Cypresse, 1889 is a famous painting by Vincent van Gogh. The piece was painted when Van Gogh was in the St-Rémy mental asylum. He was a patient there from May 1889 to May 1890. He made three nearly identical versions of the composition. One is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the other is in a private collection.

Van Gogh wrote a letter to his brother, Theo and described the painting like this, ""I have a canvas of cypresses with some ears of wheat, some poppies, a blue sky like a piece of Scotch plaid."

Sold for $57 million in 1993

#18 - Suprematist Composition, 1916 - Kazimir Malevich

Suprematist Composition, 1916
Suprematist Composition, 1916

The Suprematist Composition is a painting from the Russian painter, Kazimir Malevich who is one of the pioneers of geometric abstract art. The painting is a representation of geometry and color in space.

Kazimir Malevich's "Suprematist Composition" (1916), sold for $60,002,500 at Sotheby's auction to an anonymous buyer.

Sold for $60 million in 2008

#17 Rideau, Cruchon et Compotier, 1894 - Paul Cézanne

Paul Cézanne painted Rideau, Cruchon et Compotier (Curtain, Jug and Bowl of Fruit) in 1894. This painting is the most expensive still life painting that has ever been sold at an auction.

The still life paintings of Cézanne lead to the new art styles of the 20th century including Picasso’s cubism.

Sold for $60.5 million in 1999

#16 Police Gazette, 1955 - Willem de Kooning

Sold for $63.5 in 2006
Sold for $63.5 in 2006

Police Gazette is an abstract expressionist painting by artist Willem de Kooning created in 1955. in 2006 Steven A Cohen bought a landscape entitled "Police Gazette" by artist Willem de Kooning from David Geffen.

Sold for $63.5 in 2006

#15 Portrait de l’artiste sans barbe (Self-portrait without beard), 1889 - Vincent van Gogh

Self Portrait Without Beard
Self Portrait Without Beard

Vincent van Gogh created many self-portraits but this is perhaps his most famous. This self portrait brings together elements of Van Gogh's later work. The color reflects his emotional state and the style of the drawing is raw energy.

Sold for $71.5 million in 1998

#14 Green Car Crash, 1963 - Andy Warhol

Green Car Crash, 1963
Green Car Crash, 1963

From 1962-1064, Andy Warhold created a series of rather morbid designs known as Death and Disaster. This series are grainy black and white images with a color over them.

The subject in this piece is from an image taken by photographer John Whitehead. The photo is from the aftermath of a fiery crash following a police chase in Seattle. The car was overturned at 60 mph ejecting its driver at a speed great enough to impale his body on a climbing spike of a utility pole.

Sold for $71.7 million in 2007

#13 White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose), 1950 - Mark Rothko

White Center is the best known piece from Rothko's signature multi-form style. This style is composed of several blocks of layered colors on canvas.

It was sold in May of 2007 by Sotheby's to the Royal family of Quatar.

Sold for $72.8 million in 2007

#12 Massacre of the Innocents, 1611 - Peter Paul Rubens

Massacre of the Innocents, 1611
Massacre of the Innocents, 1611

Peter Paul Rubens actually made two paintings on the subject of the Massacre of the Innocents. In the paintings he depicts the episode of the Biblical Massacre of the Innocents of Bethlehem as told in the Book of Matthew.

Sold for $76.7 million in 2002

#11 Bal du moulin de la Galette (Dance at Le moulin de la Galette), 1876 - Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Bal du moulin de la Galette
Bal du moulin de la Galette

The famous French artist, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, painted Bal du Moulin de la Galette. The painting is considered one of the most famous of all of the Impressionist movement.

On May 17, 1990, the painting was sold for for $78 million at Sotheby's in New York City to the honorary chairman of Daishowa Paper Manufacturing Company (Japan), Saitō Ryōei.

Sold for $78.1 million in 1990

#10 False Start, 1959 - Jasper Johns

False Start, 1959
False Start, 1959

In False Start, Jasper Johns transforms words into meaningless objects. He uses stenciled words on a brightly colored painted background. The words in the painting are actually the names of the colors.

Sold for $80 million in 2006

#9 Le Bassin aux Nymphéas (Water Lily Pond), 1919 - Claude Monet

Le Bassin aux Nymphéas (Water Lily Pond), 1919
Le Bassin aux Nymphéas (Water Lily Pond), 1919

French Impressionist, Claude Monet, painted Le Bassin Aux Nymphéas. It is on eof the series of paintings that he made of water lilies.

Monet was known to paint the same scene several times. Each painting would be different and he could find new details to focus on. In this painting, you can see how he made the water act like a mirror.

Sold for $80.5 million in 2008

#8 Portrait of Dr. Gachet, 1890 - Vincent van Gogh

Portrait of Dr. Gachet
Portrait of Dr. Gachet

Vincent van Gogh's Portrait of Dr. Gachet is one of his most popular paintings. That helps to explain why it is in the top 10 of the most expensive paintings ever sold. Dr. Paul Gachet was the doctor who took care of van Gogh during the last few months of his life.

Sold for $82.5 million in 1990

#7 Triptych, 1976 - Francis Bacon

Triptych, 1976
Triptych, 1976

Francis Bacon's Triptych, 1976 is expresses his own angst. When the painting sold at Sotheby's, it became the most expensive piece of contemporary art ever sold by auction.

Sold for $86.3 million in 2008

#6 Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II, 1912 - Gustav Klimt

Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II, 1912
Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II, 1912

On a personal note, Gustav Klimt is my favorite artist off all from this list of most expensive paintings. Adele Bloch-Bauer was the wife of the wealthy industrialist, Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer. Ferdinand was a big supporter of the arts and gave a lot to help out Gustav Klimt. Adele was the only model to ever be painted twice by Klimt.

Sold for $87.9 million in 2006

#5 Dora Maar au Chat (Dora Maar with Cat), 1941 - Pablo Picasso

Dora Maar au Chat (Dora Maar with Cat) was painted by Pablo Picasso in 1941. Dora Maar was Picasso's lover and in this piece she is seated in a chair with a cat on her shoulders.

Sold for $95.2 in 2006

#4 Garçon à la Pipe (Boy with a Pipe), 1905 - Pablo Picasso

Garçon à la Pipe (Boy with a Pipe), 1905
Garçon à la Pipe (Boy with a Pipe), 1905

In Garçon à la Pipe (English: Boy with a Pipe), Pablo Picasso depicts a Parisian boy holding a pip and wearing a wreath of flowers. Picasso painted this at the age of 24 during his Rose Period. At the time he was living in the Montmartre section of Paris, France.

Sold for $104.2 million in 2004

#3 Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, 1907 - Gustav Klimt

Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I
Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I

This is the more expensive of the two paintings that Gustav Klimt painted of Adele Bloch-Bauer. Ronald Lauder bought the painting in June 2006 and displays it in his Neue Galerie in New York City.

Sold for $135 million in 2006

#2 Woman III, 1953 - Willem de Kooning

Willem de Kooning â Woman III
Willem de Kooning â Woman III

The abstract expressionist painter Willem de Kooning painted Woman III. It is from a series of six paintings of his that he painted between the years 1951 and 1953. This is the second most expensive painting ever sold.

Sold for $137.5 million in 2006

#1 No. 5, 1948 - Jackson Pollock

Jackson Pollock â No. 5, 1948
Jackson Pollock â No. 5, 1948

Jackson Pollock has painted the most expensive painting ever sold. The American painter is famous for his work in the abstract expressionist movement.

Sold for $140 million in 2006

Do you appreciate these paintings or do you think they are a waste of money?

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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      SOME of these are a PURE JOKE!! and I will start with the "string art" look from JP!! RIDICULOUS WASTE of money!! TRULY ~"BEAUTY" is in eye of beholder (BE-HOLDER of TOO MUCH MONEY)!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Hmmm, I surely appreciate learning about the most expensive paintings ... amazing! I'd probably only be encouraged to buy one of Klimt's!

    • FanfrelucheHubs profile image

      Nathalie Roy 

      6 years ago from France (Canadian expat)

      They are beautiful and affordable..;as posters. You need to ad Edvard Munch's âThe Scream'' that sold last week for $119.9 million in New York


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