The World’s Most Valuable Artwork Sold At Auctions

We all like artwork, but would we spend millions of dollars on our favorite pieces?

There are amazing examples of private institutions that will splash some serious cash in order to own some of the most famous and noteworthy pieces of art ever created. We’ve highlighted some of the most expensive pieces, which you can see below.

Salvator Mundi – Leonardo Da Vinci, $450 million


In November 2017, this painting of Jesus sold for a record-breaking $450 million at a Christie’s auction in New York. To date, it remains the only piece of Da Vinci’s art that is in private hands. The piece dates back to 1605 when King Louis XII of France commissioned the painting. It was bought in 1900 by a British Art collector who sold it for a measly £45 in 1958. The owners were originally unsure if it was a Da Vinci – it was assumed to have been created by one of his followers. It’s today known as ‘The Lost Leonardo’.

Interchange – Willem de Kooning, $300 million

©2017 Arizona Board of Regents

Do you recognize this abstract piece? Before Salvator Mundi, Interchange had the highest private bid in history. It was bought by hedge fund billionaire Kenneth C Griffin who also bought several pieces at the same time. It’s a relatively new piece created in 1955 at the peak of the abstract era. Kooning lived for most of the 20th century dying in 1997 at the age of 93. Interchange is currently on loan at the Art Institute of Chicago.

The Card Players – Paul Cézanne, $250 million


In 2011, Qatar’s Royal Family bought one of the five existing versions of Cézanne’s masterpiece for double its original value. The two men who posed for the portrait were the simple farmhands on his estate at the time – and now their image is worth hundreds of millions! The piece was created sometime between 1890-1895, representing the Post-Impressionism era and is somewhat modest in size. The Card Players is currently on display at Musée d’Orsay station in Paris.

Nafea Faa Ipoipo (When Will You Marry?) – Paul Gauguin, $210 million

Image: iStock

In 1892, French artist Paul Gauguin painted this piece of art during a visit to Tahiti. He enjoyed his stay there so much that he ended up living there for six years. At the time of its purchase in 2015, it was believed to be the most expensive painting ever sold at $300 million. It was later revealed that the buyer *only* spent $210 million on it. It is currently on display at the Reina Sofía museum in Madrid, Spain.

Number 17A – Jackson Pollock, $200 million

Image: iStock

What Jackson Pollock lacks in title creativity he makes up for in artwork. Number 17A was bought by Keneth C Griffin at the same time that he bought Interchange. This American abstract-impressionist was known for his method for drip painting during his career in the 1940s and 1950s. This particular piece is from 1948 and hangs privately at the Griffin estate. Other Pollocks hang in the Museum of Modern Art in New York where his legacy lives on.

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

Public Domain

This Rothko piece is currently tied in a nasty ongoing court battle pertaining to its value. Russian fertilizer tycoon Dmitry Rybolovlev bought No. 6 (Violet, Green and Red) and quickly filed a lawsuit against the dealer, Yves Bouvier. It was valued at $186 million which Rybolovlev believed was too much. The 1951 piece is oil on canvas and is similar to other Mark Rothko pieces created at the same time. It remains one of the most valuable pieces in the world.

Pair of portraits of Maerten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit – Rembrandt, $180 million

Image: REUTERS/Etienne Laurent/Pool

Rembrandt painted these two portraits in 1634, celebrating the wedding of Maerten and Oopjen. To date, the paintings have never been separated only adding to the value of the pair. The Louvre and the Rijksmuseum purchased them in 2015 with both galleries contributing $75 million each. Continuing the trend of never getting separated, the pieces spend their time between the French and Dutch galleries since they co-own the portraits.

Les Femmes d’Alger (“Version O”) – Pablo Picasso, $179.4 million

Image: REUTERS/Darren Ornitz

This piece is the last of 15 different versions Picasso painted. The work is inspired by Delacroix’s Les Femmes d’Algers (The Women of Algiers). He started it only six weeks after Henri Matisse died and always considered it a tribute to his style and form. Picasso painted it in 1955 using oil on canvas and is currently kept private by its owners, the Qatar Royal Family. ‘Version O’ is just one completed, with other notable versions ‘C’, ‘H’, ‘J’, and ‘K’ also popular.

Nu Couché – Amedeo Modigliani, $170.4 million

Image: REUTERS/Paul Hanna

This painting was a full-blown scandal during its initial reveal in 1917. Never before had an artist painted a naked woman, and it even caused police to shut down the exhibition! Amazingly, it was purchased by Liu Yiqian, a Chinese taxi driver-turned-stock-market-billionaire and it hangs proudly at the Pinacoteca Giovanni and Marella Agnelli in Shanghai. Yiqian bought the piece at a Christie’s auction in New York in 2015. It is one of the most reproduced paintings by Amedeo Modigliani.

Masterpiece – Roy Lichtenstein, $165 million

Public Domain

Masterpiece is an ironic commentary on Lichtenstein’s own career, which was developing while he painted this in 1962. The seller, Agnes Gund is a major philanthropist who used the proceeds to found Art For Justice – an organization dedicated to prison reform. Masterpiece’s buyer, Steve Cohen, is a hedge fund founder and currently keeps it hanging privately. The piece has previously been on display at The Art Institute of Chicago, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Tate Modern in London.

Related Topics: