For centuries, the art world has created a frenzy of bidding for works by famous masters of every era. Today, technology has stolen some limelight with incredible prices paid for NFTs. Yet, nothing in the ethernet has matched the most expensive paintings ever bought.
While buying a painting at a private sale might fetch huge prices, they are difficult to verify. But at auctions, some less-known works by famous artists have sold for enormous amounts. Many times, buying a painting at auction is a grueling affair.
Keep reading if you ever wanted to know about the most expensive painting ever sold. Some of the art on this list of expensive paintings might surprise you.
Vincent Van Gogh – Portrait of Dr. Gachet, 1990
At the height of a Japanese art collecting boom near the end of the 20th century, Van Gogh’s portrait broke a record at the auction. But its whereabouts is a curious story today. The most expensive painting sold at the time went to Ryoei Saito for $82.5 million.
Vincent painted two versions of the doctor one hundred years before the New York auction. During the last days of his life, it was Doctor Gachet who cared for the ailing Van Gogh. Often blamed for the artist’s death, Van Gogh insisted otherwise.
Counting for inflation, today’s sale price would have been $177.5 million. After buying a painting at auction with several others, Saito lost his fortune.
Today, it is still not known where Portrait of Dr. Gachet went. But there is speculation it is now somewhere in Europe waiting to resurface.
Pablo Picasso – Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust, 2010
Marie-Thérèse Walter was the mistress and muse of Picasso when he painted a series of works during his “year of wonder.” When Picasso discovered her, Walter was a seventeen-year-old girl leaving the Metro in Paris. She would become the subject of many more of his great works.
In 2010, the painting sold for $106.5 million at the Christie’s auction. The sale price broke the world record for the most expensive paintings ever sold at auction.
Like many private art collectors, the Los Angeles owner loans the painting for public display. Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust is on a long-term exhibit at Tate Modern in London.
Edvard Munch – The Scream, 2012
This iconic work best depicts the era of Expressionism in the early 20th century. The piece was first exhibited in 1902 with a collection of twenty paintings in Berlin. Munch painted four versions of The Scream in 1893, and today, it is one of the world’s most recognized works of art.
Sotheby’s sold this painting to a private collector version in 2012 for $119.9 million. All four versions are among the most expensive paintings.
Amedeo Modigliani – Nu couché, 2018
The artist created the painting as a part of a series for art dealer Léopold Zborowski. The collection from 1917 caused a scandal when it went on display at Galerie Berthe Weill in Paris. It would be Modigliani’s first and last one-man exhibit.
The closing by police of Mogliani’s show only increased the interest in his paintings. The artist never saw riches from his efforts. But the expensive paintings have kept gaining in value over time.
Christie’s put Nu Couché up for auction in 2015. The buyer then paid over $100 million for the piece. The once-controversial work sold at Sotheby’s auction for $157.2 million three years later.
At that auction, the bidding started at $125 million. Nu Couché became the most expensive painting ever sold by Sotheby’s.
Rembrandt van Rijn – Pendant Portraits of Maerten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit, 2016
The Dutch Masters, of course, are no strangers to buying a painting at auction. Several have fetched some of the highest prices in history for expensive paintings. The rare pendant portraits represent a joint venture to bring the pair together again.
With the aid of The Louvre in Paris, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam worked out a private deal. Christie’s facilitated the sale of the only two full-length paintings made by Rembrandt. The portraits of the newlyweds sold for $195 million.
The paintings were once part of the Rothschild collection. Neither portrait had been on public display since 1956 in the Netherlands. A French law gave the pair of expensive paintings the right to hang together in museums.
Salvator Mundi – Leonardo da Vinci 2017
The most expensive painting ever sold in history is not without controversy. A work by the great da Vinci is a rare occurrence at auction. So interest went into hyperdrive when this painting appeared at Christie’s.
The painting depicts Jesus Christ holding a glass orb in his left hand while making a cross sign with his right. The painting regained authenticity status in 2006 after getting restored. For many years, experts believed the painting was a copy.
In 2011 long before the auction, Salvator Mundi hung in the National Gallery in London. On November 15, 2017, a nineteen-minute bidding war commenced. When the gavel went down on the final bid, the price smashed all previous records, selling for $450.3 million.
Buying a painting anonymously at auction is not unusual. But it took some time before revealing the buyer as Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.
Yet, there are still many who doubt the authenticity of this work. Others believe that the extensive restoration diminishes the painting’s value. But Salvator Mundi still holds the record for the most expensive painting ever sold.
Discover More of The Most Expensive Paintings
All through history, art collection has been a favorite activity for investment. But for the most expensive paintings, an art collection is a sign of luxurious living. Works by history’s most famous artists are still highly sought commodities.
But buying a painting is only one of many ways to collect value today. Learn more about the best life offers and revisit our blog soon.
Featured image source: Graysauctioneers.com