Most Expensive Paintings

Most Expensive Paintings – The 30 Priciest Paintings Ever Sold

Many of the paintings created by the old masters of the Renaissance are housed in museums where the public is able to access and appreciate them. Many of the most expensive paintings are considered priceless since the museums rarely put them up for sale. In this article, we will explore the top 30 most expensive paintings ever sold, which includes a ranked table and the estimated current value of each work. Read on for more about these highly valued paintings!

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The 30 Most Expensive Paintings Ever Sold

The most valuable painting in history is none other than the Mona Lisa (1503) by Leonardo da Vinci. Although it is considered priceless, there is a numerical value placed on the painting that was derived from its insurance value. In 1962, the Mona Lisa was assessed and estimated to be worth up to $100 million! 

How Much Is the Mona Lisa Worth Portrait of Mona Lisa del Giocondo (1503-1506) by Leonardo da Vinci; Leonardo da Vinci, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

With the painting well-established into the Guinness World Record as the priciest painting insurance valuation, today, its value is estimated to be at least $1 billion (2023). Below, we have compiled a list of the world’s most expensive paintings that will have you in shock at the millions of dollars that circulate the art market. These top 30 famous valuable paintings have been ranked in order of their estimated value. 

RankValue ($ million)ArtworkArtistAuction House
1$537.6Salvator Mundi (c. 1500)Leonardo da VinciChristie’s, New York 
2$370Interchange (1955)Willem de KooningPrivate sale
3$325The Card Players (c. 1892 – 1893)Paul CézannePrivate sale
4$259Nafea Faa Ipoipo
(When Will You Marry?) 
Paul GauguinPrivate sale
5$247Number 17A (1948)Jackson PollockPrivate sale
6$230.9Wasserschlangen II (1904 – 1907)Gustav KlimtPrivate sale
7$230No. 6 (Violet, Green and Red) (1951)Mark RothkoPrivate sale via
Yves Bouvier
8$222Pendant portraits of Maerten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit (1634)Rembrandt van RijnPrivate sale
9$221.4Les Femmes d’Alger
(“Version O”) 
 Pablo Picasso Christie’s, New York 
10$213.8The Standard Bearer (1636)Rembrandt van RijnPrivate sale
11$195Shot Sage Blue Marilyn (1964)Andy WarholChristie’s, New York 
12$210.4Nu couché (c. 1917 – 1918)Amedeo ModiglianiChristie’s, New York 
13$203.2No. 5, 1948 (1948)Jackson PollockPrivate sale via Sotheby’s
14 $199.6Woman III (1953)Willem de KooningPrivate sale via Larry Gagosian
15$197Masterpiece (1962)Roy LichtensteinPrivate sale
16$196Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1907)Gustav KlimtPrivate sale via Christie’s
17$194.7Le Rêve (1932)Pablo Picasso Private sale
18$184.8Portrait of Dr. Gachet (1890)Vincent van GoghChristie’s, New York
19$183.2Nu couché (sur le côté gauche) (1917)Amedeo ModiglianiSotheby’s, New York
20$182.9Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II (1912)Gustav KlimtPrivate sale via Larry Gagosian
21$178.9Three Studies of Lucian Freud (1969)Francis Bacon Christie’s, New York
22$174.9Bal du moulin de la Galette (1876)Pierre-Auguste RenoirSotheby’s, New York
23$168.1Twelve Landscape Screens (1925) Qi BaishiBeijing Poly Auction
24$161.4Garçon à la pipe (1905)Pablo PicassoSotheby’s, New York
25$161.2Les Poseuses, Ensemble (Petite version) (1888)Georges SeuratChristie’s, New York
26$152.9The Scream (1895)Edvard MunchSotheby’s, New York
27$150.8Otahi (1893)Paul GauguinPrivate sale
28$150Reclining Nude With Blue Cushion (1916)Amedeo ModiglianiPrivate sale via Yves Bouvier
29$149La Montagne Sainte-Victoire (1888 – 1890)Paul CézanneChristie’s, New York
30$147.6Flag (1958)Jasper JohnsPrivate sale

These expensive paintings represent a fraction of the value that artworks produced by famous artists can reach. Below, we will dive right in to a review of these top 30 expensive artworks and explore the elements that make them so valuable.


Salvator Mundi (1500) by Leonardo da Vinci

Artist Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519)
Date 1500
Medium Oil on Walnut Panel
Dimensions (cm)45 x 65 
Price Paid for Painting$475 million
Current Value $537.6 million

At an auction held at Christie’s New York in 2016 during a contemporary art event, Salvator Mundi by Leonardo da Vinci turned into the most expensive painting ever sold, selling for $450 million at the end of a 19-minute bidding war. The winning bidder would later be revealed to be Saudi Arabia’s Prince. The painting portrays Christ holding an orb in one hand, and forming the sign of the cross with the other.

Most Expensive Painting Ever Sold Salvator Mundi (c.1500) by Leonardo da Vinci; Leonardo da Vinci, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

For many years it was thought to be another artist’s copy of a lost painting by Da Vinci, however, once it was restored in 2006, many noticeable techniques that are characteristic of the master’s work became clearer and it was reattributed to him. The painting had been on display at the National Gallery in London for five years before it went on auction.

Despite the fame that this piece has gained as the most expensive artwork in the world, many scholars still doubt whether it was actually painted by Da Vinci.


Interchange (1955) by Willem de Kooning

Artist Willem de Kooning (1904 – 1997)
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions (cm)200 x 175 
Price Paid for Painting$300 million
Current Value $370 million

Willem de Kooning, the Dutch-American painter, created this famous work of Abstract Expressionism in 1955. Considered to be America’s first modern art movement, Abstract Expressionism was pioneered by artists such as de Kooning and Jackson Pollock. Interchange marks a shift in subject matter for the artist, who went from painting women to painting abstract urban landscapes.

Franz Kline was influential in getting de Kooning to change his technique from using often violent brush strokes to rapid and gestural movements. The focal point of the painting is the large mass which is centered in the composition and pink in color. It represents a woman reclining. In September of 2015, Kenneth C. Griffin acquired the oil painting for $300 million from the David Geffen Foundation.

At the time of its sale, it was the most expensive painting around the globe.


The Card Players (1892) by Paul Cézanne

Artist Paul Cézanne (1839 – 1906)
Date1892 and 1893
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions (cm)97 x 130 
Price Paid for Painting$250 million
Current Value $325 million

This famous oil painting is one of five that Paul Cézanne created throughout his career that were variations of the same theme of men sitting at a table and playing cards. Most of the paintings from the series are now exhibited in art museums around the world such as the Courtauld Institute of Art in London and the Parisian Musée D’Orsay.

This particular painting of the series was privately sold in 2011 for $250 million.

Most Valuable Painting The Card Players (1892-1893) by Paul Cézanne; Paul Cézanne, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

This subject matter was one that Cézanne studied in great detail. Every version featured variations in the amount of people seated, the venue where the game is taking place, and even the sizes of the canvases differed. It was the most expensive artwork sold when it originally was bought by the Royal Family of Qatar for $250 million.


Nafea Faa Ipoipo? (1892) by Paul Gauguin

Artist Paul Gauguin (1848 – 1903)
MediumOil on canvas
Dimensions (cm)101 x 77 
Price Paid for Painting$210 million
Current Value$259 million

In the year 1891, Paul Gauguin went on his first trip to Tahiti, thus beginning his life-long love affair with the island and its females. A year later he painted this famous painting in the post-impressionist style. The oil painting portrays two young women sitting in a beautifully colored landscape of blue, green, and gold.

World's Most Expensive Painting Nafea Faa Ipoipo? (1892, ‘When Will You Marry?’) by Paul Gauguin; Paul Gauguin, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Nafea Faa Ipoipo? sold for around $210 million in a private sale in 2015, at the time it was tied with Willem de Kooning’s Interchange for the title of the world’s most expensive painting. 

It has never been confirmed who the painting was sold to; however, many people think that it was bought by the Qatar family.


Number 17A (1948) by Jackson Pollock

Artist Jackson Pollock (1912 – 1956)
Medium Oil on fiberboard
Dimensions (cm)112 x 86 
Price Paid for Painting$200 million
Current Value$247 million

Jackson Pollock’s abstract expressionist work Number 17A was painted in 1948.  Kenneth C. Griffin, a hedge fund investor, bought it from David Geffen in September 2015 for $200 million, a then-record-breaking price, and then loaned it to the Art Institute of Chicago. It is presently ranked among the top five most expensive paintings ever sold.

This famous painting is a drip painting, which is made by splashing the paint over a surface laid horizontally with oil paint on a fiberboard. It was created one year after Pollock’s drip method was launched to the public.

The painting was published in the August 1949 issue of Life magazine, which helped launch his career as an artist.


Water Serpents II (1904 – 1907) by Gustav Klimt

Artist Gustav Klimt (1862 – 1918)
Date1904 – 1907
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions (cm)80 x 145 
Price Paid for Painting$183.8 million
Current Value$230.9 million

Water Serpents II, also commonly known as Wasserschlangen II, is an extraordinary oil artwork by Gustav Klimt that was completed in 1907. It was created following his other artwork on the same subject matter Water Serpents I. In both paintings, Klimt focuses on the sensual nature of the female form and relationships between members of the same sex.

What Is the Most Expensive Art Wasserschlangen II (1907, ‘Water Serpents II’) by Gustav Klimt; Gustav Klimt, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

This oil painting has an illustrious and long history. It was seized by the invading Nazi forces during Worl War II. More recently it was the subject of dispute and controversy following the record-breaking sale in 2013.

It is the priciest artwork of Klimt’s to ever sell and is currently among the top six highest-priced pieces in the world.


No. 6 (Violet, Green, and Red) (1951) by Mark Rothko

Artist Mark Rothko (1903 – 1970)
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions (cm)230 x 137 
Price Paid for Painting$186 million
Current Value$230 million

The abstract oil painting No.6 (Violet, Green, and Red) was painted in 1951 by the Latvian-American painter Mark Rothko. It was privately sold in 2014 for around $186 million, establishing a new record for the painter. It also made it among the top seven of the most expensive art pieces to be sold in painting history.

As with his other pieces from this period, the canvas consists of colored bands which are divided by hazy and uneven shades.

Rothko’s artwork is widely renowned for its vibrantly colored rectangular forms and was bought by the Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, according to art dealer Yves Bouvier. Rybolovlev filed a lawsuit against Bouvier after the sale, claiming he was deceived about the artwork’s worth.


Portraits of Maerten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit (1634) by Rembrandt

Artist Rembrandt van Rijn (1606 – 1669)
Date 1634
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions (cm)209 x 135 
Price Paid for Painting$197 million
Current Value $222 million

The Portrait of Maerten Soolmans and Portrait of Oopjen Coppit, both painted by Rembrandt in 1634, were acquired as a pair for $180 million, setting a new record for the price of his sold works. The pair of paintings were created to commemorate the wedding of the couple.

Despite the paintings having been painted separately, the two have always been displayed as a set.


Most Expensive Art

Pendant Portraits of Maerten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit (1634) by Rembrandt; Rembrandt, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Because they were created as a pair, it was only appropriate that they be shown together at all times, and when the Rothschild family chose to sell these seldom-seen masterpieces, two museums stepped up to buy them. The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and the Louvre Museum in Paris jointly bought these two pieces and will take turns displaying them so that the general public may view them for the first time.


Les Femmes d’Alger (“Version O”) (1955) by Pablo Picasso

Artist Pablo Picasso (1881 – 1973)
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions (cm)114 x 146 
Price Paid for Painting$179.4 million
Current Value$221.4 million

Les Femmes D’Alger (Version ‘O’) by Cubism-style painter Pablo Picasso was bought for an astounding $179.3 million USD at a Christie’s auction in May of 2015. It was said to be influenced by the masterpiece The Women of Algiers in their Apartment (1834) by the esteemed artist, Eugene Delacroix.

Picasso painted 15 distinct versions of this piece throughout the course of his career, the final of which, ‘O,’ was finished in 1955.

The purchase, like so many others, has remained unidentified, but some in the art world believe it was Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabar Al Thani, Qatar’s former prime minister. Originally, the series was purchased in its entirety by Sally and Victor Ganz. The Saidenberg Gallery would later purchase 10 of the paintings from the couple.


The Standard Bearer (1636) by Rembrandt 

Artist Rembrandt van Rijn (1606 – 1669)
Date 1636
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions (cm)118.8 × 96.8
Price Paid for Painting$198 million
Current Value $213.8 million

The Standard Bearer is among the top 10 most expensive paintings sold on auction. This famous self-portrait was created by Baroque master Rembrandt in 1636 and is recognized as the second most expensive Rembrandt painting ever sold.

The painting fetched a total of $198 million and was purchased by the Rijksmuseum in 2021 from the collection of Elie de Rothschild.

Most Expensive Art Self Portrait The Standard Bearer (1636) by Rembrandt; Rembrandt, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The artist portrayed himself donning a large hat, while posed in a theatrical style, at the age of 50. Today, the painting is recognized as a national treasure in France and was on tour for exhibition in 2023 at the Museum Arnhem, the Bonnefantenmuseum, and the Groninger Museum.


Shot Sage Blue Marilyn (1964) by Andy Warhol 

Artist Andy Warhol (1928 – 1987)
Medium Acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen
Dimensions (cm)101.6 x 101.6
Price Paid for Painting$195 million
Current Value $195 million

Shot Sage Blue Marilyn is considered to be the most expensive artwork by famous Pop artist Andy Warhol, who created many iconic portraits of celebrities throughout the 1960s. The silkscreen painting portrays a headshot of the legendary actress Marilyn Monroe, who was the classical beauty of Hollywood in the 20th century.

An icon of popular culture, Monroe’s flawless image was captured beautifully by Warhol through his bold use of color, which mimicked the aesthetics of Pop imagery. Monroe was recognized as Warhol’s ultimate muse and her image, as captured by Warhol’s style, immortalized her legacy well into the 21st century, such that Shot Sage Blue Marilyn sold for a whopping $195 million on auction at Christie’s in 2022. 


Nu Couché (1917) by Amedeo Modigliani

Artist Amedeo Modigliani (1884 – 1920)
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions (cm)60 x 92 
Price Paid for Painting$170.4 million
Current Value$210.4 million

Nu couché, or “Reclining Nude“, was produced by the famous painter Amedeo Modigliani in 1917 and is regarded as one of the most expensive paintings ever sold. The painting, depicts a naked lady sleeping against a mainly dark red backdrop and is one of the Italian painter’s most well-known works, sold for $170.4 million on November 9, 2015, surpassing the expectation of $100 million.

Modigliani's Most Valuable Painting Nu couché les bras croisés derrière la tête (1917, ‘Reclining Nude’) by Amedeo Modigliani; Amedeo Modigliani, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Lui Yiqian is the happy owner of this masterpiece. Now a billionaire but once a taxi driver, Yiqian made his fame building a couple of private museums in Shanghai and apparently bought the artwork with an American Express Card. This oil on canvas painting was one of a series of nudes that had been commissioned by Léopold Zborowski, a Polish art dealer.

The painting is said to have been exhibited at his one and only exhibition at the Galleria Berthe Weill, which was raided by the authorities and shut down.


No. 5, 1948 (1948) by Jackson Pollock

Artist Jackson Pollock (1912 – 1956)
Medium Oil on fiberboard
Dimensions (cm)240 x 120
Price Paid for Painting$140 million
Current Value$203.2 million

The American painter, Jackson Pollock, best known for his significant contributions to the abstract expressionist movement, created No. 5, 1948. It was sold for $140 million on May 22, 2006, setting a new record for the highest price paid for a painting at the time, which was not surpassed until April 2011.

The artwork is 2.4 meters by 1.2 meters and was produced on a fiberboard, commonly known as a composition board.

Pollock used liquid colors for his painting. They were synthetic resin paints (gloss enamel), but for the sake of categorization, they are referred to as oil paints. Upon closer study of the painting, it appears to be a composition of white, brown, grey, and yellow paint dripped in a pattern that many people still associate with a “dense bird’s nest”.


Woman III (1953) by Willem de Kooning

Artist Willem de Kooning (1904 – 1997)
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions (cm)172 x 123 
Price Paid for Painting$137.5 million
Current Value $199.6 million

Willem de Kooning’s work Woman III is an abstract expressionist painting that was part of a series. Woman III is one of six paintings by de Kooning created between 1951 and 1953 with a woman as the major focus. It was constructed in 1953 and measures 1.73 by 1.23 meters.

This artwork was part of the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art’s collection from the late 1970s until 1994, but following the revolution in 1979, it could no longer be displayed due to the government’s tight restrictions about the visual arts and what they portray.

Finally, in 1994, it was secretly transferred to David Geffen by Thomas Ammann Fine Art for the remainder of the Tahmasbi Shahnameh, a 16th-century Persian manuscript.


Masterpiece (1962) by Roy Lichtenstein

Artist Roy Lichtenstein (1923 – 1997)
Medium Silkscreen on canvas
Dimensions (cm)137 x 137 
Price Paid for Painting$165 million
Current Value $197 million

Roy Lichtenstein’s Masterpiece is a 1962 pop art artwork that has his signature Ben-Day dots and narrative material wrapped in speech bubbles. Drowning Girl, Portrait of Madame Cézanne, and other works from 1962 and 1963 were included in Lichtenstein’s debut show at Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles, which ran from April 1 to April 27, 1963.

The name Brad, according to Lichtenstein, seemed heroic to him and was chosen for its clichéd simplicity. This image was taken from a comic book panel in which the two protagonists were positioned similarly to how they are now but in a car.

The famous painting sold for $165 million in 2017 and is now worth around $197 million.


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

Artist Gustav Klimt (1862 – 1918)
Medium Oil, silver, and gold leaf on canvas
Dimensions (cm)138 x 138 
Price Paid for Painting$135 million
Current Value $196 million

This famous painting was commissioned by the model’s husband, Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer, a Jewish financier. After being taken by the Nazis, the Gustav Klimt picture of Adele was exhibited in 1941 at the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere. Maria Altman, the legitimate successor, was able to regain it in the mid-2000s after successfully suing the Austrian government.

This artwork is regarded as the final work of his golden period, as well as the most representative of it.

Klimt's Most Valuable Painting Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1907) by Gustav Klimt; Gustav Klimt, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

This painting is one of two that Gustav Klimt painted of Adele Bloch-Bauer, the other version was finished in 1912. Both of these paintings of Adele, as well as numerous others, were commissioned by the Bloch-Bauer family and are housed with them. New York’s Neue Galerie currently houses Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, which is among the most expensive works of art ever sold. Adele is shown lounging on a gold throne in front of a star-studded background of gold.


Le Rêve (1932) by Pablo Picasso

Artist Pablo Picasso (1881 – 1973)
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions (cm)130 x 97 
Price Paid for Painting$155 million
Current Value $194.7 million

Pablo Picasso, at the age of 50, painted Le Rêve (The Dream) in 1932, oil on canvas portrait (130 x 97 cm) of his 22-year-old mistress Marie-Thérèse Walter. It was apparently painted in a single afternoon on the 24th of January, 1932.

It dates from Picasso’s distorted representations phase, and its simplistic shapes and contrasting colors are reminiscent of early cubism.

The painting’s sexual nature has been constantly noticed, with critics pointing out that Picasso placed an erect penis in the upturned face of his subject, apparently signifying his own. The painting was sold for $155 million in a private sale on March 26, 2013, which makes it among the most expensive paintings ever sold.


Portrait of Dr. Gachet (1890) by Vincent van Gogh

Artist Vincent van Gogh (1853 – 1890)
Medium of PaintingOil on canvas
Dimensions (cm)67 x 56 
Price Paid for Painting$82.5 million
Current Value $184.8 million

Vincent van Gogh’s painting Portrait of Dr. Gachet is one of his most well-known works. The painting portrays Dr. Paul Gachet, a doctor of homeopathy, and artist with whom he lived after a stay in an institution at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. During Van Gogh’s final months, Gachet looked after him. The painting was created in two variants, both were created in June of 1890 at Auvers-sur-Oise.

They both depict Gachet sitting at a table with his head resting on his right arm, but the colors and styles are easily distinguishable. An etching of the scene also exists.

The Most Expensive Paintings Portrait of Dr. Paul Gachet (1890) by Vincent van Gogh; Vincent van Gogh, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In 1911, the Städel in Frankfurt purchased the first version, which was later confiscated and sold by Hermann Göring. The painting was bought at an auction in 1990 for $82.5 million ($163.4 million today) to Ryoei Saito, which made it the most expensive artwork in the world at the time. It then vanished, and the Städel was not able to track it down in 2019. Gachet held the second version, which his heirs donated to France. Despite doubts about its legitimacy, it currently hangs in Paris’s Musée d’Orsay.


Nu Couché (Sur Le Côté Gauche) (1917) by Amedeo Modigliani

Artist Amedeo Modigliani (1884 – 1920)
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions (cm)84 x 146 
Price Paid for Painting$157.2 million
Current Value$183.2 million

Nu couché (sur le côté gauche), painted a century ago, is the most famous piece from the classic series in which Amedeo Modigliani redefined the nude for the Modern Age. These stunning and sensuous pictures practically halted traffic during their first display in 1917, prompting the authorities to close the show.

The series of paintings is now renowned as one of the most important successes in painting in the modern era.

Most Expensive Art Works Nu couché (sur le côté gauche) (1917) by Amedeo Modigliani; Amedeo Modigliani, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Modigliani’s nudes continue to evoke shock and amazement, as seen most recently by Tate Modern’s acclaimed retrospective of the artist’s work, which included this famous painting as its cover hero. The painting measures 84 cm by 146 cm and was created with oil paint on canvas. Jonathan Jones, a British journalist, had compared it to Grande Odalisque (1814) by Ingres.


Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II (1912) by Gustav Klimt

Artist Gustav Klimt  (1862 – 1918)
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions (cm)190 x 120 
Price Paid for Painting$150 million
Current Value$182.9 million

Christie’s auction house sold Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II for approximately $88 million in November 2006, making it the fourth most expensive artwork at the time. Oprah Winfrey was the buyer. Adele Bloch-Bauer II was granted to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in 2014 during autumn as a lengthy and generous loan.

Most Expensive Art Pieces Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II (1912) by Gustav Klimt; Gustav Klimt, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Oprah Winfrey sold it for $150 million to an undisclosed Chinese bidder in the summer of 2016. Originally painted for his exhibit, the artwork was temporarily donated to Neue Galerie New York. Today, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II is worth $182.9 million. 

Both of the portraits were at one point seized by the Nazis.


Three Studies of Lucian Freud (1969) by Francis Bacon

Artist Francis Bacon (1909 – 1992)
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions (cm)198 x 147 
Price Paid for Painting$142.4 million
Current Value $178.9 million

Three Studies of Lucian Freud is an oil-on-canvas triptych portraying artist Lucian Freud by the English artist that was born in Ireland, Francis Bacon. The famous painting was bought in 2013 for $142.4 million, which was the most ever paid at auction for an artwork at the time. Picasso’s Les Femmes d’Alger series broke the record in May 2015 with his Version O.

Sigmund Freud and Francis Bacon were friends but artistic competitors. They were introduced by artist Graham Sutherland in 1945 and quickly became good friends, meeting on a regular basis. Starting in 1951, when Freud first sat for Bacon, the two artists painted each other numerous times.

Bacon produced two full-length triptychs of Freud.


Bal Du Moulin De La Galette (1876) by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841 – 1919)
Date 1876
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions (cm)131 x 175 
Price Paid for Painting$154 million
Current Value $174.9 million

Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s work Bal du moulin de la Galette (often known as Dance at Le moulin de la Galette) was completed in 1876. It is one of Impressionism’s most renowned works and is held in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

The artwork portrays a typical Sunday afternoon in Paris’s Montmartre neighborhood at the old Moulin de la Galette.

Some of the Most Expensive Art Bal du moulin de la Galette (1876) by Pierre-Auguste Renoir; Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Working-class Parisians would dress up and spend the evening, drinking, dancing, and eating galettes in the late nineteenth century. Like other early works by Renoir, this is a classic Impressionist picture of everyday life. It has a rich form, fluid brush strokes, and a lot of flickering, sun-dappled light.


Twelve Landscape Screens (1925) by Qi Baishi

Artist Qi Baishi (1864 – 1957)
Medium Ink brush panels
Dimensions (cm)180 x 47 
Price Paid for Painting$140.8 million
Current Value$168.1 million

Only two of Qi Baishi’s Twelve Screens of Landscapes are known to exist. The current lot that went up for auction at Poly Auction was produced in 1925, when Qi Baishi was 62 years old, as a birthday present for a prominent Beijing doctor named Chen Zilin.

The Twelve Screens of Landscapes were originally shown in April 1954 at the China Artists Association’s first exhibition.

In 1958, a year after the artist’s death, it was included in an exhibition in memory of his works. Each screen is 180 x 47 cm in size and depicts the grandeur of 12 breathtaking locations. Scholars think that Qi painted this series after traveling across China and that it perfectly displays the artist’s skill of landscape painting.


Garçon à la Pipe (1905) by Pablo Picasso

Artist Pablo Picasso (1881 – 1973)
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions (cm)100 x 81 
Price Paid for Painting$104.2 million
Current Value $161.4 million

Pablo Picasso’s work Garçon à la Pipe (“Boy with a Pipe”) was painted with oil on canvas. The Boy with a Pipe was created by Picasso in 1905, at the age of 24, and living in the Montmartre neighborhood of Paris, during his Rose Period.

The artwork portrays a young Parisian child with a pipe in his left hand and a flower garland on his head, which is encircled by two floral embellishments.

The topic was a small child from the neighborhood named “P’tit Louis.” The artwork is considered one of the most valuable paintings, having sold for $104.2 million at a Sotheby’s auction on May 5, 2004. It is presently Picasso’s sixth most popular painting.


Les Poseuses, Ensemble (Petite Version) (1886 – 1888) by Georges Seurat

Artist Georges Pierre Seurat (1859 – 1891)
Date1886 – 1888
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions (cm)200 x 249.9 
Price Paid for Painting$149.2 million
Current Value $161.2 million

Les Poseuses is a renowned painting by Pointillist painter Georges Seurat, who created the work between 1886 and 1888. The painting portrays a female model in the nude lounging around Seurat’s studio with another famous painting mounted on the wall in the background.

Seurat chose to represent the same model posed in three different positions, while simultaneously portraying A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, which was completed in the same year that Les Poseuses began.

What makes the painting so special is that it marked the beginning of the Neo-Impressionist era, which was propelled by Seurat’s Pointillist technique and mechanical process. This painting was originally purchased for $149.2 million and is currently worth around $161.2 million since its sale in 2022. 

The Scream (1895) by Edvard Munch

Artist Edvard Munch (1863 – 1944)
Medium Oil, tempera, and pastel on canvas
Dimensions (cm)91 x 73 
Price Paid for Painting$119.9 million
Current Value $152.9 million

The Scream is a popular moniker for the masterpiece by the Expressionist artist from Norway, Edvard Munch, which was produced in 1893. The painting’s agonized expression soon became one of the most famous images in art, symbolizing the human condition’s anguish. Munch recounted being out for a stroll at dusk when the dying sun’s rays suddenly colored the clouds “a blood crimson.”

He experienced what he described as an “eternal scream flowing across nature.”

Most Expensive Paintings Ever Sold The Scream (1910) by Edvard Munch; Edvard Munch, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Scholars have traced the location to a fjord overlooking Oslo, and have proposed many explanations for the unusually orange sky, ranging from volcanic eruptions to Munch’s psychological response to his sister’s admission to a neighboring insane institution.


Otahi (1893) by Paul Gauguin

Artist Paul Gauguin (1848 – 1903)
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions (cm)Unavailable
Price Paid for Painting$120 million
Current Value$150.8 million

This famous post-Impressionist painting was created by none other than Paul Gauguin in 1893 and portrays a Tahitian woman, presumably named Otahi, posed in a sexual position. The work gained popularity during its involvement in a lawsuit between the Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev, Sotheby’s, and Yves Bouvier, which stirred significant debate and accusations around the pricing of the artwork. 


Reclining Nude With Blue Cushion (1916) by Amedeo Modigliani

Artist Amedeo Modigliani (1884 – 1920)
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions (cm)60 x 92 
Price Paid for Painting$118 million
Current Value$150 million

Amedeo Modigliani’s oil on canvas work Nu Couché au Coussin Bleu (“Reclining Nude on Blue Cushion”) was completed in 1916. Modigliani painted hundreds of nudes between 1916 and 1919, and this is one of them. This period’s nudes are openly portrayed, with barely the smallest hint of setting.

Most Expensive Art and Paintings Nu Couché au coussin Bleu (1916, ‘Reclining Nude on Blue Cushion’) by Amedeo Modigliani; Amedeo Modigliani, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

They are presented with a degree of objectivity and are neither demure nor provocative. Yet, as though done by a sculptor’s hand, the uniformly thick, rough application of paint is more concerned with bulk and the visceral sense of the feminine figure than with titillation and the re-creation of tactile, transparent flesh.

It is both detailed with eroticism and somehow abstract all at once.


La Montagne Sainte-Victoire (1888 – 1890) by Paul Cézanne

Artist Paul Cézanne (1839 – 1906)
Date1888 – 1890
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions (cm)65.2 x 81.2 
Price Paid for Painting$137.7 million
Current Value$149 million

La Montagne Sainte-Victoire is a popular painting by Paul Cézanne that was created between 1888 and 1890. The subject of the painting featured a mountain landscape in the South of France depicting the Montagne Sainte-Victoire overlooking the Aix-en-Provence. Cézanne was inspired by the mountain during two of his most famous painting periods, the period of synthesis and his late period works.

The work embodies Cézanne’s post-Impressionist use of color and geometry in painting to convey the complex changes in light and color, while portraying nature as he saw it. This famous artwork is currently valued at around $149 million after its sale in 2022 for $137.7 million. 


Flag (1954) by Jasper Johns

Artist Jasper Johns (1930 – present)
Datec. 1954
Medium Oil and collage on plywood
Dimensions (cm)107 x 153 
Price Paid for Painting$110 million
Current Value$147.6 million

Jasper Johns’ first solo exhibit took place when he was 24 years old. Flag, one of the exhibition’s main works, was created following a dream he had about the American flag. Following the popularity of this work of art, Johns went on to make over 40 American flag-themed works of art. Flag, which is 107 cm by 153 cm and is made out of three canvases placed on plywood.

Oil paint, caustic, and a newspaper collage were utilized as the mediums.

All cuts from newspaper print were purposefully chosen not to feature any headlines, in keeping with the non-political tone of his work, and instead concentrated on the commercial aspects of print prevalent at the time. The painting features only 48 white stars since it was created before the addition of other states and includes 13 white and red stripes.


This wraps up our extensive list of the top 30 most expensive paintings ever sold. These famous paintings have sold for incredible amounts, luckily some of them have been donated or borrowed to museums so that we may appreciate them. Whether it is a painting by Da Vinci, Van Gogh, or Cézanne, you can be certain that the value of the artwork is sure to climb! 



Take a look at our most expensive painting ever sold webstory here!



Frequently Asked Questions


Who Owns the Most Expensive Painting?

The crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohamed bin Salman, owns the world’s most expensive painting ever sold. He purchased Leonard da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi (1490-1500) in 2017 for $450.3 million. 


What Is the Most Valuable Painting in the World?

Today, the most valuable and famous painting in the world is considered to be Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa (1503), which is estimated to be worth up to $860 million. This painting is closely followed by the iconic and controversial painting Salvator Mundi (1490-1500). 


What Is the Most Expensive Painting Ever Stolen?

There have been many art heists throughout the ages that have resulted in many famous works lost to the hands of thieves. The most expensive painting ever stolen was The Concert (c. 1664) by Johannes Vermeer, which would be worth over $200 million today. 


Cite this Article

Isabella, Meyer, “Most Expensive Paintings – The 30 Priciest Paintings Ever Sold.” Art in Context. September 24, 2021. URL:

Meyer, I. (2021, 24 September). Most Expensive Paintings – The 30 Priciest Paintings Ever Sold. Art in Context.

Meyer, Isabella. “Most Expensive Paintings – The 30 Priciest Paintings Ever Sold.” Art in Context, September 24, 2021.

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