In 2017, Salvator Mundi – a painting by art icon Leonardo da Vinci – sold for a record-breaking sum of $450 million at Christie’s Auction House. The sale price more than doubled its previous record; $179.4 million for a Picasso painting in 2015.
Art has always been highly prized in human societies, and artworks by highly skilled and talented artists have often been named among the world’s most expensive and prized items. Here are 10 of the world’s most valuable paintings to illustrate humanity’s unique and timeless relationship with art.
#1: Salvator Mundi – Leonardo da Vinci
The aforementioned Leonardo da Vinci painting is so valuable that its sale broke world records in 2017. Interestingly, the painting was sold for just $10,000 a few years prior. Some critics still question the authorship of the artwork, noting that it was possibly painted by one of da Vinci’s followers. However, the majority of scholars believe it to be genuine, making it worth a fortune to those who can spare the price.
#2: Interchange – Willem de Kooning
De Kooning’s abstract landscape painting fetched the highest price ever paid for an artwork in a private sale. The Dutch-American painter’s work was bought by hedge fund billionaire Kenneth C. Griffin for a hefty $200 million. That’s a lot of winnings to play online blackjack games right there.
#3: The Card Players – Paul Cézanne
Cézanne’s iconic painting was purchased by the royal family of Qatar back in 2011. The family paid twice the existing record for an artwork on auction at the time to obtain one of the painter’s five variations of the scene. The artwork is estimated to be worth more than $250 million today.
#4: Nafea Fan Ipoipo (When Will You Marry?) – Paul Gauguin
Gauguin, one of the most renowned French post-Impressionist painters in history, painted this work during his first trip to Tahiti, where he lived for 6 years. After 2 years’ worth of negotiation, the artwork was sold for a princely sum of $210 million in 2015.
#5: Number 17A – Jackson Pollock
Number 17A was the second artwork purchased in a $500 million deal back in 2015 by Kenneth C. Griffin. American abstract-impressionist Pollock is known for his distinctive drip-painting style, and has painted many of the world’s most valuable works. Number 17A was sold for $200 million.
#6: No. 6 (Violet, Green and Red) – Mark Rothko
This $186 million artwork, along with 36 more, is part of a continuous legal battle involving its buyer, Russian fertiliser magnate Dmitry Rybolovlev and his art dealer Yves Bouvier. Rybolovlev accuses Bouvier of defrauding him of hundreds of millions by overcharging him for artworks she purchased on his behalf.
#7: Les Femmes d’Algers – by Pablo Picasso
Les Femmes d’Algers is the last of the 15 versions of the scene painted by Picasso, and was originally a tribute to Henri Matisse’s art style. It was sold for $180 million, a price which held the record for the most expensive painting sold at auction until Salvator Mundi was sold in 2017.