The 10 Most Expensive Pieces of Art sold at Auction

Ever wondered what the top 10 most expensive paintings ever sold at auction were?

Have you ever wondered how much some paintings actually get sold for at auction?  Million and millions of pounds are spent year on year by the wealthy looking for a sought out piece of artwork. So what is the most expensive piece of art?


1. Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I by Gustav Klimt


Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I by Gustav Klimt (1907)

This painting was sold to Ronald Lauder for his Neue Galere in New York City for $135 million in June 2006 at Christie’s, New York. The portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, the wife of a Jewish sugar industrialist is considered one of the artist’s masterpieces.  Did you know that Adele Bloch-Bauer became the only model who was painted twice by Klimt  see the other at the Klimt online gallery.

2. Garçon à la Pipe by Pablo Picasso


Garçon à la Pipe (Boy with a Pipe) is a painting by Pablo Picasso, painted in 1905 during Picasso’s famous Rose Period, a period in which Picasso preferred cheerful orange and pink colours.  On May 5, 2004 it sold for $104.1 million at Sotheby’s auction house in New York, after having been given a pre-sale estimate of $70 million by the auction house. The record price was a bit of a surprise since the painting is not made in the Cubist style that Picasso is so renowned for. Many art critics have stated that the painting’s high sale price has much more to do with the artist’s name than with the merit or historical importance of the painting.


3.Dora Maar au Chat by Pablo Picasso


Dora Maar au Chat (Dora Maar with Cat) is a 1941 painting by Pablo Picasso. It depicts Dora Maar, the painter’s mistress, seated on a chair with a small cat perched on her shoulders. The work is painted in Picasso’s well-known cubist style. It was sold in an auction of impressionist works held at Sotheby’s on May 3, 2006 in New York to an anonymous bidder, whose final bid was $95.2 million, well exceeding the pre-auction $50 million estimates.


4. Portrait of Dr. Gachet by Vincent van Gogh


This painting was sold to Japanese businessman Ryoei Sai for $82.5 million on May 15, 1990 at Christie’s, New York.  Ryoei Saito shocked the world when he announced that he wanted the van Gogh painting to be cremated with him at his death. Later he explained he was using a figure of speech: threatening to torch the oils was just an expression of intense affection for the masterpiece.  Vincent van Gogh actually painted two versions of Dr Gachet’s portrait with a slightly different color scheme. The other version is located at the Musée d’ Orsay in Paris.


5. Bal Au Moulin de la Galette by Pierre-Auguste Renoir


Bal au Moulin de la Galette, Montmartre is an 1876 painting by French artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir. There are two versions of this painting with the same name: the larger one is located at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, while the smaller version was sold on May 17, 1990 for $78 million at Sotheby’s in New York to Ryoei Saito, who bought it together with the Portrait of Dr Gachet.  Bal au Moulin de la Galette was also in danger to be cremated with Saito together with the van Gogh’s painting.


6. Massacre of the Innocents by Peter Paul Rubens


This painting by Peter Paul Rubens, painted in 1611, is the oldest painting in this list. It was sold to Kenneth Thomson, 2nd Baron Thomson of Fleet for
£49.5 million ($76.7 million) on July 10, 2002 at Sotheby’s auction.


7. Portrait de l’Artiste sans Barbe by Vincent van Gogh

($71, 500,000)

Portrait de l’artiste sans barbe (“Self-portrait without beard”) s one of many self-portraits by the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh, that he painted in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France in September 1889. The painting is an oil on canvas and is 40 cm x 31 cm (16″ x 13″).Van Gogh painted this just after he had shaved himself, making this an uncommon painting since his other self-portraits show him with a beard. It becomes one of the most expensive paintings of all time when it was sold for $71.5 million on November 19, 1998 at Christie’s, New York.


8. Rideau, Cruchon et Compotier by Paul Cézanne



Rideau, Cruchon et Compotier painting by Paul Cézanne was painted in 1893-1894. Cézanne was famous for drawing still lifes such as this, which expressed deep feelings though still based itself upon reality.  This painting was sold for $60.5 million at Sotheby’s New York on May 10, 1999 to “The Whitneys”, one of America’s wealthiest families.


9.Femme aux Bras Croisés by Pablo Picasso


Painted in 1901, Femme aux Bras Croises was part of Picasso’s famous Blue Period, a dark, sad time in the artist’s life. The beautiful & various tones of blue are typical. The painting depicts a woman with her arms crossed staring at the endless nothing.  Femme aux Bras Croisés was sold for $55,000,000 November 8, 2000, at Christie’s Rockefeller in New York City.


10. Irises by Vincent Van Gogh


Irises is a painting by the Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh, painted while he was at the asylum at Saint Paul-de-Mausole in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France in the last year before his death in 1890.

In 1987, it became the most expensive painting ever sold when it was sold for AUS $54,000,000 to Alan Bond, but he did not have enough money to pay for it and it had to be re-sold. It is now owned by the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

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2 responses to “The 10 Most Expensive Pieces of Art sold at Auction”

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