The 10 Most Expensive Paintings Ever Sold

Michele Debczak
Christie’s previews Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Salvator Mundi’ prior to auction.
Christie’s previews Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Salvator Mundi’ prior to auction. / Carl Court/GettyImages
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Collecting fine art is an expensive habit. The world’s most valuable paintings cost more than some luxury cars, boats, and houses. To see just how much owning a gem of the art world would set you back, check out the list below.

The distinction of most expensive painting ever sold belongs to Salvator Mundi by Leonardo da Vinci, according to Portrait Flip. Saudi prince Badr bin Abdullah Al Saud bid a record-breaking $450.5 million on the 16th-century masterpiece at a Christie’s auction in New York in 2016. The painting’s disputed origins made the historic sale even more notable. According to some experts, Leonardo’s assistant Bernardino Luini is the real artist behind the work. If true, that would make it worth significantly less than its near-half-a-billion-dollar selling price.

The second most expensive painting on the list is Interchange by Dutch-American painter Willem de Kooning. Created in 1955, it was an important early entry in the Abstract Expressionism movement. Hedge fund manager Kenneth C. Griffin purchased it from the David Geffen Foundation for $300 million in September 2015. Other art legends, like Jackson Pollock, Pablo Picasso, and Rembrandt, appear on the list as well.

Paintings aren’t the only visual art form that fetches high bids at auction. In 2015, hedge fund mogul Steve Cohen spent $140 million to acquire the sculpture L’homme au doigt, or “Man Pointing,” by Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti. That transaction broke the record for most expensive sculpture ever sold, but it still doesn’t approach the top 10 most lucrative painting sales, which are listed below with their original sales prices, but ordered based on what those prices would be in 2022. Check out more record-breaking sale prices on everything from comics to undergarments here.

10 Most Expensive Paintings Ever Sold

  1. Salvator Mundi, Leonardo da Vinci // $450.5 million
  2. Interchange, Willem de Kooning // $300 million
  3. The Card Players, Paul Cézanne // $250 million
  4. Nafea Faa Ipoipo, Paul Gauguin // $210 million
  5. Number 17A, Jackson Pollock // $200 million
  6. No. 6 (Violet, Green, and Red), Mark Rothko // $186 million
  7. Water Serpents II, Gustav Klimt // $183.3 million
  8. Portraits of Maerten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit, Rembrandt van Rijn // $180 million
  9. Les Femmes d’Alger (“Version O”), Pablo Picasso // $179.3 million
  10. The Standard Bearer, Rembrandt // $198 million

[h/t Portrait Flip]

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