The top 5 most expensive paintings ever sold | 55MAX website



The top 5 most expensive paintings ever sold

Posted on January 22 2016

Do you have a spare $300 million burning away in your back pocket? When Pablo Picasso's masterpiece Les Femmes d'Alger sold for $179 million (£116million) in New York last year, it smashed the world record for a painting sold at an auction. But even that sum is far from the most expensive painting of all time. Yes, you've guessed it - $300 million!

The world's most famous paintings, especially old master works done before 1803, are generally owned or held at museums. Museums very rarely sell art, and as such, means they are quite literally priceless. The Guinness World Records list the Mona Lisa as having the highest insurance value for any painting in history. In 1962 it was assessed at $100 million but taking into account inflation, that value would be around $782 million in 2016! 

But for art sold at auction or privately - it’s not priceless. Here are some of the most expensive paintings ever sold in history - just in case you fancied bidding on one! (Please note: all prices have been adjusted for inflation)

Number 1 - $300m

When Will You Marry by Paul Gauguin

The 1892 oil painting of two Tahitian girls by  French Post-Impressionist Paul Gauguin, was sold for a reported $300 million last year to Qatar, which has embarked on an ambitious museum building and art acquisition campaign backed by the extremely rich emirate’s royal family. Before that it had most recently been hung in the Beyeler Foundation museum in Riehen, Switzerland. "When will you marry?" rejected established European values and was heavily influenced by the primitive arts of Africa, Asia and French Polynesia. And it was during a trip to Tahiti in search of art unspoiled by western culture that Gauguin applied ‘When Will You Marry?’ to canvas. 

Source: EPA

Number 2 - $274m

The Card Players by Paul Cézanne

This is yet another one of the most expensive pieces of artwork in the hands of Qatar! One of five oil paintings entitled "The Card Players" by French 19th-century Post-Impressionist painter Paul Cézanne was bought by the tiny Gulf State's royal family in 2011 for an estimated $274 million. It featured two two stony-faced card players, models selected by Cézanne from his family’s estate 


Number 3 - $186m 

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

Dmitry Rybolovlev, a Russian billionaire, paid $186 million for this painting by abstract painter Mark Rothko. The work by Rothko, himself born in Russian-ruled Latvia in 1903, is also available in 55MAX’s platinum collection. It's often said he introduced abstract expressionism into the world. Characterised by bright bands of horizontal colours painted on enormous canvases, Rothko's style meant that viewers could form their own impressions of his work. If you're interested in purchasing some of the work of Mark Rothko, check out this from the 55MAX platinum collection


Number 4 - $179.3m

Les Femmes d’Alger (Version O) by Pablo Picasso

Les Femmes d’Alger by Pablo Picasso. The last in a series of 15 paintings of the same name by renowned artist Pablo Picasso, Version "O" of "Les Femmes d'Alger" sold at auction in May last year for $179.3 million — a record for an auction house sale. The new owner? The top bidder at the Christie's New York sale was Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, former prime minister of Qatar. The piece was inspired by Picasso's fascination with the 19th-century French artist Eugene Delacroix. It was part of a 15-work series Picasso created in 1954-55 designated with the letters A through to O. Les Femmes d'Alger, which translates to "The Women of Algiers" is considered a masterpiece of contemporary art. It features nude courtesans, a common theme for Picasso, and is painted in his signature cubist style.


Number 5 - $165.4m

1948 by Jackson Pollock

The 8-foot by 4-foot piece of fibreboard, covered in drips of brown and yellow paint from David Geffen was brought for a cool $165.4 million in 2006 but the buyer has stayed unnamed. 1948 is key work to the abstract expressionist movement. Pollock applied paint by dripping it from hardened brushes, sticks, and basting syringes. He only begun experimenting in this form the year before No. 5, 1948's creation.










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