Alex O'Brien


The highest selling artworks of all time

The highest selling artworks of all time

Many of the world’s most famous paintings are held at museums for public viewing, and are rarely sold. This makes them literally priceless, though you can get an idea of their value by looking at the amount they are insured for, and when – for instance the Mona Lisa was insured for US$100 million in 1962. This would equate to around US$782 million in today’s money.

But what about the works of art that have been sold – what sorts of figures would you expect to see on those? You might be surprised.

5. Jackson Pollock, No. 5, 1948

Sold for $140 million

At the time of the $140 million sale in 2006, American painter Jackson Pollock’s "No. 5, 1948" was the most expensive painting ever sold. It has since lost its place and it still remains unknown who purchased it.

4. Pablo Picasso, Les Femmes d’Alger

Sold for $179.3 million

Spanish artist Pablo Picasso’s 1955 Version "O" of "Les Femmes d'Alger" sold for $179.3 million at auction in May 2015, making it the record sale at Christie's New York. The buyer was the former prime minister of Qatar, Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani.

3. Mark Rothko, No. 6 (Violet, Green and Red)

Sold for $186 million

The 1951 painting was purchased by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev in August 2015 for a reported $186 million based on exchange rates at the time.

2. Paul Cézanne, The Card Players

Sold for between $250 million–$300 million

This painting’s sale price can only be estimated, yet it sits somewhere between $250 million to $300 million. French Post-Impressionist painter Paul Cézanne’s painting was bought by the royal family of Qatar in 2011. It is believed that the fact that no alcohol or money is shown in the painting of peasants playing cards could have made it more appealing to the royals.

1. Paul Gauguin, Nafea Faa Ipoipo (When Will You Marry?)

Sold for $300 million

The New York Times reported the February 2015 sale of the 1892 oil painting by French Post-Impressionist Paul Gauguin as $300 million to an ‘undisclosed buyer’. Speculation is rife as to the purchaser, with many suggesting a Qatar based museum as the most likely.

Source: CNBC

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