5 Most Expensive Paintings in the World

On May 11, 2015, a piece by Picasso set a new world record for being the most expensive painting ever sold at auction. But did you know it’s not the most expensive painting in the world? We may hear about the auction sales because they make big headlines, but the private sales are where the action really happens. Check out below for the 10 most expensive paintings in the world.


5. No. 5, 1948, 1948, Jackson Pollock

Sold for: $140 million

When Jackson Pollock’s No. 5, 1948 was purchased in a private sale, rumor had it that the seller was David Geffen, founder of Geffen Records and co-founder of DreamWorks SKG and the lucky buyer was David Martinez, managing partner of Fintech Advisory Ltd. in a sale that included two other pricey pieces in order to raise the funds to purchase the Los Angeles Times. However, Martinez’s lawyers issued a statement denying the claims that their client was the new owner. So who owns it? The public has no idea at the moment and it looks like whoever currently enjoys the luxury of gazing at it in person won’t be talking about that pleasure any time soon.


4. Les Femmes d’Alger (“Version O”), 1955, Pablo Picasso

Sold for: $179.4 million

On May 11, 2015, Pablo Picasso’s Les Femmes d’Alger (“Version O”) made headlines when it broke the record for most expensive painting ever sold at auction. Put on the block by Christie’s New York on behalf of a private collector, it went right back into the hands of a private collection. The buyer was said to be the former Qatari prime minister, Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani. [Source]


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

Sold for: $186 (€140) million

Works by Mark Rothko always stir up conversations about art’s true value, provenance, etc. etc. etc., and it was no different when his No. 6 (Violet, Green and Red) was purchased in a private sale for $186 million. In August 2014, Cherise Moueix, who is married to wine-maker Christian Moueix, sold the painting to Russian businessman, investor, philanthropist, and billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev.


2. The Card Players, 1892/93, Paul Cézanne

Sold for: $259+ million

In April 2011, Greek shipping magnate George Embiricos decided to sell Paul Cézanne’s The Card Players from his personal art collection and ended up brokering a deal with the Royal Family of Qatar for the piece. The final price was over $250 million, although the exact number has been kept private (various estimates have it anywhere between $250 million and $300 million). [Source]


1. Nafea Faa Ipoipo (When Will You Marry?), 1892,  Paul Gauguin

Sold for: ~$300 million

In another purchase said to be made by the State of Qatar, Paul Gaugin’s Nafea Faa Ipoipo (When Will You Marry?) changed hands in February 2015 in a private sale that makes this piece the most expensive painting in the world at the moment. Sold by the family of Rudolf Staechelin, a Swiss businessman and art collector, the piece was created after Gauguin’s first trip to Tahiti in 1891 and was inspired by the people he met during his travels.