The 20 Most Expensive Art Pieces in the World

20. Dora Maar au Chat (Pablo Picasso): $95.2 million

Pablo Picasso is known for his famed paintings, and this one is no exception. The beautiful yet distorted depiction speaks to Picasso’s real-life relationship with Dora Maar. If you look closely, a tiny cat sits on her right shoulder. One has to appreciate Picasso’s ability to distort the appearance of the woman whilst still accruing some semblance of normality. Interestingly enough, he opted to leave the cat with a realistic portrayal. Picasso’s ability to mesh together two distinct styles is truly marvelous.

Image Source: Totally History

19. Garçon à la pipe (Pablo Picasso): $104.2 million

Created in 1905, Picasso went for a much more conventional approach with this painting. This coincided with a happier time in Picasso’s life (hence the flowers and lighter pastel colors in the background). This young boy was alleged to have lived in his Parisian neighborhood, Montmartre. Casually carrying the pipe, Picasso depicts a rather unique expression on the boy’s face. The face looks puzzled — and almost judgmental as if the boy would rather spend his time elsewhere.

Image Source: ArtStack

18. Silver Car Crash (Andy Warhol): $105.4 million

Though graphic in nature, this serigraph by famed American artist Andy Warhol drew plenty of attention. It contains a human body folded like a pretzel amidst the destroyed cabin of the car. Individual shots of the scene were broken up to clearly illustrate a virtual progression of destruction. While not as colorful or individual as others within this piece, Warhol’s work still remains exceptionally captivating. This was sold in 2013 for a whopping $105.4 million.

Image Source: Magazin

17. Nude, Green Leaves and Bust (Pablo Picasso): $106.5 million

Nude, Green Leaves and Bust was one of Picasso’s most famed pieces. The genesis of the painting stemmed from his relationship with Marie-Therese Walter (who at the time was his mistress). In this (Blue) period, she’s portrayed as a tortured soul in sheer agony. The slumped over posture showcases a rudimentary example of movement. While not as complex as a Rembrandt work, it remains equally as potent aesthetically.

Image Source: Blogspot

16. Flag (Jasper Johns): $110 million

As one can see, this is a highly patriotic effort by American artist Jasper Johns. A former soldier, Johns was inspired to create this iconic painting after dreaming of the flag. He utilized a number of materials for the painting — including a collage of newspaper excerpts. This flag conjures up fierce passions of patriotism. It may not hold the same level of impact depending upon the person, but it unequivocally remains as a triumph nonetheless.

Image Source: MoMA

15. The Scream (Edvard Munch): $119.9 million

The Scream is featured in virtually every major art book. A strikingly beautiful swirled sunset is complemented tremendously by a distressed individual. The flow of the painting allows for it to have plenty of visual depth. In addition, the long boardwalk seemingly appears to be more vast than its actual length would suggest. Norwegian artist Edvard Munch completed this brilliant piece of art in 1893.

Image Source: Edvard Munch

14. Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (Gustav Klimt): $135 million

Austrian artist Gustav Klimt was commissioned to create this painting by a very famous businessman. Adele Bloch-Bauer was the wife of the businessman (Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer) — and thus was the muse for this piece of art. One must admire the immense detail packed into Adele’s opulent dress. After being stolen by the Nazis during World War II, the piece of art bounced around unknowingly for nearly 70 years before being found by the Bloch-Bauer family.

Image Source: 1st Art Gallery

13. Woman III (Willem de Kooning): $137.5 million

This abstract painting is grotesque in the most beautiful way possible. Dutch artist Willem de Kooning utilized strong elements of expressionism in regards to this piece of art. As we all know, art is interpretative. The artist de Kooning surely abides by this axiom — as the woman’s shape is clear enough to visualize, yet vague enough to leave a bit of mystery in the process. It was sold to billionaire Steven A. Cohen in 2006 for nearly $140 million.

Image Source: Wikipedia

12. No. 5, 1948 (Jackson Pollock): $140 million

Jackson Pollock was looked at as a revolutionary artist throughout the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s (before his sad passing). No. 5, 1948 is a perfect example of Pollock’s abstract style. It’s also far more meticulous than meets the eye. Each swirl and line is expertly placed to fully offer the viewer a premier experience. It doesn’t look overly elaborate — though it’s surely aesthetic to the eye. As one can see, it’s certainly worth the lofty price tag.

Image Source: Mental Floss

11. Three Studies of Lucian Freud (Francis Bacon): $142.4 million

This painting is rather compelling. Trisected into a sequential scene, artist Francis Bacon captured friend Lucian Freud (the grandson of Sigmund Freud). Freud’s face is obviously distorted, and we can see how Bacon looked to truly capture the singular nature of the muse sitting by himself on a chair. There are no frills — or overly convoluted features with this piece. Instead, it takes a somewhat simple design and elevates it with tremendous technique.

Image Source: Vimeo

10. La Rêve (Pablo Picasso): $155 million

This is the second painting in which Picasso involved his mistress. Unlike the first one, this one portrayed Walter in more of a positive light. We see a complete reversal in tone and overall mood. Her sweet disposition was encapsulated in relation to the effervescent Rose Period. Picasso delved into this section of his artistic life after finishing the more morose Blue Period. Depending upon whom you ask, there’s even some potential phallic symbolism embedded within this painting.

Image Source: Wikipedia

9. Nu Couché (Amedeo Modigliani): $170.4 million

Amedeo Modigliani was responsible for repeatedly crafting this style of artform. In fact, Modigliani was said to create 22 nude paintings during his illustrious career. While this is rather straight-forward and simple, the Italian artist did a wonderful job in illustrating facial expression through the simple construction of her eyes. Who knows… maybe the inspiration behind the Kate Winslet-Leonardo DiCaprio drawing scene in Titanic came from this painting.

Image Source: Barrons

8. Les Femmes d’Alger (Pablo Picasso): $179.4 million

This painting includes every major theme we’ve come to love about Picasso. There are varying levels of color saturation. The utilization of cool and warm hues offers supreme contrast. All the while, the abstract nature of Picasso’s genius can be seen quite clearly. Another intriguing facet is that the painting appears to get more abstract as it moves from left to right. This is one of 15 paintings within the series of Les Femmes d’Alger.

Image Source: Wikipedia

7. Portraits of Maerten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit (Rembrandt): $180 million

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam plays host to both of these gorgeous works of art. Rembrandt is known as one of the first artists to employ motion within a painting. The detailed facets of both individuals are quite incredible. This includes not only facial features, but also the wildly intricate measures on every article of clothing. If traveling to Amsterdam, this is a must-see attraction. Both paintings together sold for a cool $180 million back in 2015.

Image Source: Rijksmuseum

6. No. 6 Violet, Green and Red (Mark Rothko): $186 million

In 1951, artist Mark Rothko crafted this beauty entitled No. 6 (Violet, Green and Red). On the surface, there doesn’t appear to be a whole lot in the way of construction. It’s simply three blocks of color irregularly placed on top of one another. However, the artist masterfully meshed together varying tones. There’s a real craftsmanship as it pertains to spacing out the shapes and line work. The end product results in a wickedly unique piece of art.

Image Source: Wikipedia

5. Number 17A (Jackson Pollock): $200 million

When looking at Pollock’s comprehensive collection of work, Number 17A might be his most famous. The hectic spiraling of lines, shapes, colors, and shades all amalgamate together seamlessly. It’s almost as if the phrase ‘beautiful chaos’ was translated into an ornate yet complex art form. Many have attempted to imitate Pollock’s unorthodox methods. As of 2018, no one has come close to replicating these jaw-dropping pieces.

Image Source: Pollock Prints

4. Nafea Faa Ipoipo (Paul Gauguin): $210 million

Nafea faa ipoipo (translated to When Will You Marry?) was largely inspired by artist Paul Gauguin’s trip to Tahiti. The brightness of the colors immediately stand out — as do the representation of native women from the island. Gauguin did his best to capture the rural yet beautiful nature of what was (at the time) a rather exotic and rural location. A notable aspect includes the subtle yet effective detail in each of the women’s faces. This painting sold for an eye-popping $210 million in 2015.

Image Source: Wikipedia

3. The Card Players (Paul Cézanne): $250 million

The Card Players includes a collection of five paintings by Paul Cézanne. It’s representative of both past and present societies. The color scheme offers a likeness to many pubs around Europe. Hues of brown, red, and gray work immensely well in imitating those scenes. Above all, normalized activities such as gambling and drinking can be appreciated — and ultimately captured — artistically. This has been the case for centuries and centuries.

Image Source: Wikipedia

2. Interchange (Willem de Kooning): $300 million

Interchange is the most expensive abstract piece of art ever made. Crafted by de Kooning, the piece sold for roughly $300 million in 2015. After focusing his work on a series of women, de Kooning instead opted for takes on scenery. This includes both natural entities as well as industrial buildings. There’s no rhyme or reason for the chosen smattering of colors. With that said, it just simply works. Interchange is delicate in nature — but bold enough to truly pop.

Image Source: Wikipedia

1. Salvator Mundi (Leonardo da Vinci): $450.3 million

Iconic artist Leonardo da Vinci created Salvator Mundi. It exudes the class, style, and context of the Renaissance period immensely well. This can be seen in both the figure’s hand positioning as well as with the crystal ball in his left hand. The technique utilized within this piece is simply exquisite. Harder, more defined lines are woven nicely with softer features. It’s widely considered the most expensive piece of art in the world. In 2017, it was bought for over $450 million.

Image Source: Wikipedia