1. When Will You Marry ( Paul Gauguin )- $300 Million
‘When Will You Marry?’ is painted by the Paul Gauguin in 1892, it is an oil on canvas painting. It was sold privately by the family of Rudolf Staechelin to Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad Al-Thani, in February 2015 for close to US $300 Million, the highest price paid ever for a painting. Gauguin travelled to Tahiti for the first time in 1891. His hope was to find “an edenic paradise where he could create pure, ‘primitive’ art”, rather than the primitivist faux works being turned out by painters in France. Upon arrival, he found that Tahiti was not as he imagined it: it had been colonised in the 18th century, and at least two-thirds of the indigenous people of the island had been killed by diseases brought by Europeans. “Primitive” culture had been wiped out. Despite this, he painted many pictures of native women: nude, dressed in traditional Tahitian clothes, and dressed in Western-style dresses, as is the rear figure in When Will You Marry?
2. The Card Players ( Paul Cézanne )- $274 Million
The Card Players is a oil painting, it was painted by the Paul Cézanne 1894–1895. The Card Players painting is the series of oil paintings and there are five paintings in the series. The Card Players was sold in 2011 to the Royal Family of Qatar for a price variously estimated at between $250 million and $300 million, making it the second most expensive work of art ever sold. There are total five paintings of card players by Cézanne, the final three works were similar in composition and number of players, causing them to sometimes be grouped together as one version. The exact dates of the paintings are uncertain, but it is long believed Cézanne began with larger canvases and pared down in size with successive versions, though research in recent years has cast doubt on this assumption.
3. No. 6 Violet, Green and Red ( Mark Rothko )- $186 Million
No. 6 (Violet, Green and Red) was painted by the Russian-American artist Mark Rothko in 1951. No. 6 consists of large expanses of colour delineated by uneven, hazy shades. It was bought for $186 Million by Dmitry Rybolovlev in 2014 from private sale. Characterized by bright bands of horizontal colors painted on enormous canvases, Rothko’s style was intended to engulf viewers in the artwork. Ambiguously named so that viewers could form their own impressions, he utilized a spare palette with the darkest shades placed at the top to symbolize the mental depression which plagued him. Rothko’s masterful use of color powerfully conveyed an intimate, intense message without subject matter and adhered to his credo that a good painting must have a deep meaning rooted in concepts of mortality and spirituality.
4. Les Femmes d’Alger ‘Version O’ ( Pablo Picasso )- $179.3 Million
Les Femmes d’Alger is an oil canvas painting, it is painted by Pablo Picasso i 1955. Les Femmes d’Alger is a series of 15 paintings. The series is one of several painted by Picasso in tribute to artists that he admired. The entire series of Les Femmes d’Alger was bought by Victor and Sally Ganz from the Galerie Louise Leiris in Paris for $212,500 in June 1956. “Version O” was auctioned at Christie’s New York for a second time in May 2015, and was expected to set a world record price for a work of art at auction. A pre-sale valuation of $140 million was placed by Christie’s on the painting, one of the highest ever placed on an auctioned artwork. The most expensive work of art to previously sell at auction,Francis Bacon’s’s painting Three Studies of Lucian Freud, had sold for $142.4 million against a pre-sale estimate of c.$85 million in 2013. An undisclosed reserve price had also been placed on the painting prior to the sale. The painting was sold for $179.4 million including fees, a record price for a painting at auction. It was bought by the former Qatari prime minister, Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani.
5. Nu couché ‘Reclining Nude’ ( Amedeo Modigliani )- $170.4 Million
Nu couché ‘Reclining Nude’ is a oil canvas painting, it was painted by Amedeo Modigliani in 1917. The painting realized $170.4 Million at a Christie’s New York sale on 9 November 2015, a record for a Modigliani painting and placing it high among the most expensive paintings ever sold .It was purchased by the Chinese businessman Liu Yiqian. The painting is one of a famous series of nudes that Modigliani painted in 1917 under the patronage of his Polish dealer Léopold Zborowski. It is believed to have been included in Modigliani’s first and only art show in 1917, at the Galerie Berthe Weill, which was shut down by the police. Christie’s lot notes for their November 2015 sale of the painting observed that this group of nudes by Modigliani served to reaffirm and reinvigorate the nude as a subject of modernist art.
6. No 5, 1948 ( Jackson Pollock )- $165.4 Million
No. 5, 1948 is a oil painting, it is painted by the Jackson Pollock in 1948. The painting was created on fibreboard, also known as composition board, measuring 8’ x 4’. For the paint, Pollock chose to use liquid paints. More specifically, they were synthetic resin paints but are referred to as oil paints for classification of the work. On inspection it was grey, brown, white and yellow paint drizzled in a way that many people still perceive as a “dense bird’s nest”. The lyrics of The Stone Roses song “Going Down” include a reference to the painting: “she looks like a painting – Jackson Pollock’s Number 5…” Between 1988 and 1989, The Stone Roses’ guitarist John Squire created cover artwork for many of the band’s releases on Silvertone Records in a style similar to that of Jackson Pollock. The painting played a central role in the film Ex Machina (2015). Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac), the wealthy tech firm CEO, uses this painting as an object lesson for the protagonist Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson) noting that No. 5, 1948 would never have come into existence if Jackson Pollock only painted what he already knew. This is contrasted to the way an AI comes to know, thus emphasizing the problem of consciousness and epistemology.
7. Woman III ( Willem de Kooning )- $162.4 Million
Woman III was painted by the Willem de Kooning in 1953, Woman III is a oil canvas painting. Woman III is one of a series of six paintings by de Kooning done between 1951 and 1953 in which the central theme was a woman. From late 1970s to 1994 this painting was part of Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art collection, but after the revolution in 1979, this painting could not be shown because of strict rules set by the government about the visual arts and what they depict. Finally, in 1994 it was quietly traded by Thomas Ammann Fine Art to David Geffen for the remainder of the 16th century Persian manuscript, the Tahmasbi Shahnameh.
8. Le Réve ( Pablo Picasso )- $158.5 Million
Le Rêve was made by Pablo Picasso in 1932 and it is a oil canvas painting. Le Rêve was purchased for $7,000 in 1941 by Victor and Sally Ganz of New York City. This purchase began their 50-year collection of works by just five artists: Picasso, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Stella, and Eva Hesse. After the Ganzes died, their collection, including Le Rêve, was sold at Christie’s auction house on November 11, 1997, as a means of settling their inheritance tax bill. Le Rêve sold for an unexpectedly high $48.4 million, at the time the fourth most expensive painting sold. The entire collection set a record for the sale of a private collection, bringing $206.5 million. The total amount paid by the Ganzes over their lifetime of collecting these pieces was around $2 million. The buyer who purchased Le Rêve at Christie’s in 1997 appears to have been the Austrian-born investment fund manager Wolfgang Flöttl, who also briefly held Van Gogh’s Portrait of Dr. Gachet in possession in the late 1990s. In 2001, under financial pressure, he sold Le Rêve to casino magnate Steve Wynn for an undisclosed sum, estimated to be about $60 million. On March 26, 2013, the New York Post reported that Steven A. Cohen of SAC Capital had bought the painting from Wynn for $158.5 million.
9. Portrait of Adele Block-Bauer I ( Gustav Klimt )- $158.4 Million
Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I was painted by Gustav Klimt in 1907, it is oil, silver, and gold on canvas painting. Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I also called ‘The Lady in Gold or The Woman in Gold’. Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I was a wealthy member of Viennese society and a patron and close friend of Gustav Klimt. Klimt originally titled the painting as Adele Bloch-Bauer, but Nazi soldiers seized the painting from the Bloch-Bauer home and displayed it in the early 1940s, removing the name and instead calling it The Woman in Gold so that it could be displayed without referencing a prominent Jewish family. Klimt took three years to complete the painting; preliminary drawings for it date from 1903/4. It measures 54″ x 54″ and is made of oil and gold on canvas, showing elaborate and complex ornamentation as seen in the Jugendstil style. Klimt was a member of the Vienna Secession, a group of artists that broke away from the traditional way of painting. The picture was painted in Vienna and commissioned by Adele’s husband Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer. As a wealthy industrialist who had made his fortune in the sugar industry, he sponsored the arts and favored and supported Gustav Klimt. Adele Bloch-Bauer became the only model who was painted twice by Klimt when he completed a second picture of her, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II, in 1912.
10. Portrait of Dr Gachet ( Vincent van Gogh )- $152 Million
Portrait of Dr. Gachet was painted by Vincent van Gogh in 1890, it is one of the most revered oil canvas painting. There are two authenticated versions of the portrait, both painted in June 1890 at Auvers-sur-Oise. Both show Gachet sitting at a table and leaning his head on his right arm but they are easily differentiated in color and style. In 1890, Van Gogh’s brother Theo was searching for a home for the artist upon his release from an asylum at Saint-Rémy. Upon the recommendation of Camille Pissarro, a former patient of the doctor who told Theo of Gachet’s interests in working with artists, Theo sent Vincent to Gachet’s second home in Auvers. Vincent van Gogh’s first impression of Gachet was unfavorable. Writing to Theo he remarked: “I think that we must not count on Dr. Gachet at all. First of all, he is sicker than I am, I think, or shall we say just as much, so that’s that. Now when one blind man leads another blind man, don’t they both fall into the ditch?” However, in a letter dated two days later to their sister Wilhelmina, he relayed, “I have found a true friend in Dr. Gachet, something like another brother, so much do we resemble each other physically and also mentally.