Most Expensive Paintings Ever Sold



Nu couche 


Artist: Amedeo Modigliani 

Painted in 1917/18 

Sold for: $170.4 million (Nov. 9th 2015)

Nu couche is an oil on canvas painting created by the Italian-Jewish artist Amedeo Modigliani. Nu couche means Red Nude in English and is the most popular painting of a series. Modigliani was known for his portraits of nude women he painted in the Modern style. He would purposely elongate the faces and necks. These paintings were not well liked during his time but they would later become popular. When Modigliani showcased his nudes at his art show the police came and shut it down. Nu couche is one of his most famous pieces. In November 2015, the daughter of the wealthy Italian businessman and cotton trader Gianni Mattioli sold this painting to the Chinese billionaire Liu Yiqian for $170.4 million. He paid for it on his American Express card. 


Les Femmes d’Alger - Version O

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Artist: Pablo Picasso 

Painted in 1955

Sold for: $179.4 million (May 11th 2015)

Les Femmes d’Alger (Women of Algiers) is a series of 15 paintings and drawings the Spanish painter Pablo Picasso created in 1954-1955. Picasso did the series as an ode to one of his favorite artists Eugene Delacroix, who painted The Women in Algiers in the Apartment. The 15 drawings and paintings were named after letters. Version O was sold in May 2015 to the former Qatar Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani for $179.4 million. The private seller who sold the painting paid $39.7 million for it in 1997.


Pendant portraits of Maerten Soolmans & Oopjen Coppit

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Artist: Rembrandt 

Painted in 1634

Sold for: $180 million for both (Sept. 2015)

The pendant Portraits of Maerten Soolman & Oopjen Cooppit were painted by the Dutch painter Rembrandt, who is regarded as one of the best artists of all time. He was commissioned to paint the portraits of the wealthy Amsterdam couple for their wedding. These paintings are unusual for Rembrandt because when he painted portraits he would never show the full length of the body. The portraits were sold as a pair to the Dutch and French art museums Riijksmuseum and Louvre for $180 million. The seller was the French banker and descendent of the Rothschild family, Eric de Rothschild. 


No. 6 (Violet, Green and Red)

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Artist: Mark Rothko

Painted in 1951

Sold for: $186 million (Aug. 2014)

No. 6 (Violet, Green and Red) is a painting by the Latvian-American abstract expressionist artist Mark Rothko. The painting was one of the works in the world famous art fraud case called the Bouvier Affair. In which Swedish art dealer Yves Bouvier overcharged several rich private art collectors by lying about the paintings original cost. Yves would purchase or act as a middleman in the sale of paintings and charge the buyer up 70% what he paid for it. In August 2014 the French winemaker Cherise Moueix sold No. 6 to the Russian Billionaire Dmitry Ryboloviev for $186 million. Bouvier acted as the middleman. Ryboloviev discovered Bouvier overcharged him tens of million of dollars for the painting. Ryboloviev had Bouvier arrested and is now suing him claiming to have been defrauded to the tune of 1 billion dollars from all the paintings Bouvier has sold him. An investigation was started and Bouvier was discovered to have defrauded art collectors all over the world. It’s one of the greatest art scandals to have ever taken place in the art world.


Wasserschlangen II


Artist: Gustav Klimt

Painted in 1904-07

Sold for: $183.8 million (2013)

Wasserschlangen II (Water Serpents 2) was painted by Austrian symbolist painter Gustav Klimt. It took him 3 years to complete, from 1904-07. Klimt was a unique western artist because he was heavily influenced by Japanese art. His primary subject to paint was the female body, usually in eroticism. Wasserschlangen II is another painting that Yves Bouvier sold to Dmitry Ryboloviev. Bouvier sold it to him for $183.8 million in 2013. Bouvier bought the painting for $126 million then instantly sold it to Ryboloviev,  making 57.8 million in profit. Ryboloviev is in the middle of a lawsuit now with Bouvier for fraud, as is a lot of art collectors.


Number 17A

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Artist: Jackson Pollock

Painted in 1948

Sold for: $200 million (Sept. 2015) 

Number 17A is a painting by the American painter Jackson Pollock, who was a major figure in the abstract expressionist movement. Pollock pioneered the “drip technique” which is to splash or pour paint onto the canvass lying on the ground. This enabled him to access the canvas from all angles. At the time critics were divided on whether his art was good or not. It wasn’t until much later Pollock became of the most well known American artists of all time. His painting Number 17A was sold by the David Gaffen Foundation to Kenneth C Griffin fo $200 million in 2015.


Nafea Faa Ipoipo 

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Artist: Paul Gauguin 

Painted in 1892

Sold for: $210 million (Sept. 2014) 

Nafea Faa Ipoipo is Tahitian for When Will You Marry? It was painted by French Post Impressionist artist Paul Gauguin. Gauguin moved to Tahiti to get away from France to make “pure primitive art.” While he was there he painted a lot of the native Tahiti women. When Will You Marry was sold by the heirs of the Swedish businessman Rudolf Staechelin to the State of Qatar for $210 million in 2014. 


The Card Players

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Artist: Paul Cezanne

Painted in 1892-93

Sold for: $250 million (April 2011) 

The Card Players is a series of 5 paintings by the French Post Impressionist artist Paul Cezanne. They were painted in 1892-93. Cezanne drew inspiration from the motif of 17th Century French and Dutch Genre paintings which showed drunk and rowdy card players. Cezanne decided to have his card players be calm and quiet. Cezanne used farm hands from his family estate to model the card players. In April 2011, the Greek shipping magnate George Embiricos sold one of The Card Players paintings he owned to the State of Qatar for $250 million. 



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Artist: Willem de Kooning

Painted in 1955

Sold for: $300 million (Sept. 2015)

Interchange is an oil on canvas painting by the Dutch-American abstract expressionist painter Willem de Kooning. It was painted in 1955 and is 79 x 69 inches big. It was his first abstract landscape and marks the change of his visual style in his art. Shortly after the piece was finished Kooning sold it for $4,000. 70 years later in 2015, the David Geffen Foundation sold it to Kenneth C. Griffin for $300 million.


Salvator Mundi 

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Artist: Leonardo da Vinci

Painted in 1500

Sold for: $450.3 million (Nov. 15th 2017) 

Salvator Mundi is latin for Savior of the World. It is a painting by Italian Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci. It portrays Jesus Christ in renaissance clothing making the sign of the cross and holding a crystal orb. It is one of fewer than 20 works by Leonardo Da Vinci (he also painted The Mona Lisa) and it is the only one is private hands. It is disputed among experts on whether this painting is actually the original Leonardo da Vinci painted because many of his followers also made different versions of their own. In 2017, Russian billionaire Dmitry Ryboloviev sold Salvator Mundi to the Minster of Culture to Saudi Arabia, Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan Al Saud, for $450.3 million. It’s the number 1 most expensive painting to have been sold at private auction in history.