Can You Make Money Making Art? Here Are The 6 Richest Living Artists (Each Worth $100 Million+)

Can you make money making art nowadays? These artists certainly can. They are not only making money with their art, they’re making MEGA money. We’re talking about millions if not billions.

From paintings to photography to installations and of course, inflatable balloons (?!) these artists are making their mark while raking it in.

*And, yes, I’m aware that there are no women on this list. Did you notice?

6. Takashi Murakami

Estimated Net Worth: $100 Million
If you need lessons on how to bank on your artistic brand, then look no further than Takashi Murakami. Reportedly worth somewhere in the range of a cool $100 million, Murakami takes full advantage of the opportunities that come his way, especially if those opportunities are connected to high-profile, highly-paid endeavors.

With his 100+ employees working on paintings, sculptures, Louis Vuitton bags, inflatable balloons, videos, toys, etc, you’d think he was Jeff Koons! For Murakami, maximum output is key as well as dollar dollar bills. His MoCA exhibit in L.A. following his Louis Vuitton collaboration in 2007 was titled, © Murakami and featured a LV pop-up store. The man who hip-hop made rich, (think Kanye CD cover and music video, think Pharrell collaboration selling for more than $2 million at Art Basel in Switzerland), continues to cash in on lucrative collaborations and anything he can slap his name on. Can’t stop, won’t stop.

5. Andre Vicari

Estimated Net Worth: $142 Million
Andre Vicari may not be as well known as some of the other names on this list, but whereas some of the others court fame to make their moolah, Vicari courts the wealthy and even royal.

In 2004, he was Britain’s richest living painter, and I doubt his value has depreciated over the years. He amassed his fortune painting portraits of the rich and famous for decades, was once the official painter of the King and Government of Saudi Arabia, and in 2001, he sold a collection of his works, 125 paintings, to Prince Khaled for £17 million ($27 million). He also has three museums in the Middle East that are solely dedicated to his work.

4. David Choe

Estimated Net Worth: $200 Million
David Choe may at first glance just be another young street artist when in fact he’s really one lucky sonofabitch. Sometimes you just end up landing an opportunity that will lead to a fuck-load of money and kudos to Choe for being in the right place at the right time and having his art catch the eye of the right soon-to-be-richer-than-shit entrepreneur.

How this happened, I have no idea but the art world is a funny place; so is Facebook. And doing a mural at FB in lieu of money for shares is pretty f-ing hilarious. As my mother would say about Choe, “He’s okay at painting, but more crazy than anything else. Maybe people are just looking for crazy? Someone should pray for him…” Apparently, my mom is an excellent prayer.

3. Jasper Johns

Estimated Net Worth: $300 Million
Jasper Johns has established himself as an iconic artist of his time and is commanding prices to equal that status. The dead masters might still be bringing in more, but no one else on earth who still has a pulse can take in more money for a single piece than Johns.

Four words: False Start, $80 million. Johns currently hold the title for the most expensive painting by a living artist.

2. Jeff Koons

Estimated Net Worth: $100 Million – $500 Million
Why make art that makes millions when you can have a factory full of art-making minions to make the art that will make you millions? Just like Murakami, Jeff Koons utilizes the tried and true method of using other people’s efforts in order to bring to life his creative ideas. The results are his signature giant colorful animal-balloon-like figures and a gold-laden star with pet monkey.

The Pennsylvania native has a personal net worth of $100 million. Several Koons’ experts were unable to provide a value for his entire body of work today but sales of individual pieces run into the millions. In 2001, one of his three Michael Jackson and Bubbles porcelain sculptures sold for $5.6 million. [Daily Mail]

  1. Damien Hirst

Estimated Net Worth: $300 Million – $1 Billion
Damien Hirst is reportedly worth anywhere from $300 million to a whopping $1 billion dollars. Known for his formaldehyde-dunked sliced animals and his dot paintings (more contributions from art factory minions), Hirst is currently the richest living artist. A master of the artistic brand, you can certainly learn a thing or two about banking on art by studying Hirst’s methods.

The 2009 Sunday Times Rich List estimated Hirst’s fortune to be $388 million, but apparently it’s now over the billion mark in U.S. Dollars. In 2008, he raised $198 million by selling a complete show, “Beautiful Inside My Head Forever,” breaking the record for a single-artist auction and solidified his rank in the art hierarchy as “Sell Out #1” by bypassing his galleries and going straight to Sotheby’s auction block. And who can forget For the Love of God, 2007, the diamond encrusted platinum skull for $77.9 million?

*Sources: Celebrity Net Worth, Complex, Design Museum

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Desirée O

Founder / Writer / Curator
Desirée O is the founder, writer, and curator of bohemianizm. You can find her own creative pursuits on her website (DesireeO.com) and follow her on Twitter (@DesireeO).
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