While most of the world’s famous paintings are owned (or at least held) in a museum who would never sell them because they understand the cultural value of them, there are some paintings also by famous artists who are owned by private collectors. It is these types of paintings that go to auction and end up going for extraordinary sums of money…
The Top 10 Most Expensive Paintings Ever Sold at Auction
10 – Painting: Woman III by Willem de Kooning (Sold at Auction for $163.4 Million)
Wiki Info: Woman III is a painting by abstract expressionist painter Willem de Kooning. Woman III is one of a series of six paintings by de Kooning done between 1951 and 1953 in which the central theme was a woman. It measures 68 by 48 1⁄2 inches and was completed in 1953.
9 – Painting: No. 5, 1948 by Jackson Pollock (Sold at Auction for $166.3 Million)
Wiki Info: The painting was created on fibreboard, also known as composition board, measuring 8’ x 4’. For the paint, Pollock chose to use liquid paints. More specifically, they were synthetic resin paints but are referred to as oil paints for classification of the work.
8 – Painting: Nu Couché by Amedeo Modigliani (Sold at Auction for $172.2 Million)
Wiki Info: The painting is one of a famous series of nudes that Modigliani painted in 1917 under the patronage of his Polish dealer Léopold Zborowski. It is believed to have been included in Modigliani’s first and only art show in 1917, at the Galerie Berthe Weill, which was shut down by the police.
7 – Painting: Les Femmes d’Alger by Pablo Picasso (Sold at Auction for $181.2 Million)
Wiki Info: Les Femmes d’Alger is a series of 15 paintings and numerous drawings by the Spanish cubist artist Pablo Picasso. The series, created in 1954-1955, was inspired by Eugène Delacroix’s 1834 painting The Women of Algiers in their Apartment. The series is one of several painted by Picasso in tribute to artists that he admired.
6 – Painting: Pendant portraits of Maerten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit by Rembrandt (Sold at Auction for $182 Million)
Wiki Info: The portraits were in the possession of the subjects’ heirs until their sale in 1877 to Gustave Samuel de Rothschild, a French banker. They were lent for exhibition once only, to the Rijksmuseum in 1956 for the artist’s 350th birthday.
5 – Painting: No. 6 by Mark Rothko (Sold at Auction for $188 Million)
Wiki Info: No. 6 (Violet, Green and Red) is a painting by the Russian-American Abstract expressionist artist Mark Rothko. It was painted in 1951. In common with Rothko’s other works from this period, No. 6 consists of large expanses of colour delineated by uneven, hazy shades.
4 – Painting: Number 17A by Jackson Pollock (Sold at Auction for $202 Million)
Wiki Info: Number 17A is a painting by Jackson Pollock, an American painter known for his contributions to the abstract expressionist movement.
3 – Painting: The Card Players by Paul Cézanne (Sold at Auction for $276 Million)
Wiki Info: The Card Players is a series of oil paintings by the French Post-Impressionist artist Paul Cézanne. Painted during Cézanne’s final period in the early 1890s, there are five paintings in the series. The versions vary in size, the number of players, and the setting in which the game takes place.
2 – Painting: Nafea Faa Ipoipo by Paul Gauguin (Sold at Auction for $303 Million)
Wiki Info: Gauguin travelled to Tahiti for the first time in 1891. His hope was to find “an edenic paradise where he could create pure, ‘primitive’ art”, rather than the primitivist faux works being turned out by painters in France.
1 – Painting: Interchange by Willem de Kooning (Sold at Auction for $303 Million)
Wiki Info: In the painting, forms appear to be in motion and dynamic, despite the rigid, temporally frozen form of the medium. Interchanged is not portraying any objects or clearly depicting any specific emotion, but rather is meant to evoke a sense of dynamism and motion. He paints this sense of dynamism and motion through his composition, through gestural abstraction, and through forcing movement from the viewer.