25. Garçon à la pipe, 1905
> Artist: Pablo Picasso
> Sale price: $104,168,000, May 5, 2004
> Inflation-adjusted price: $161,014,750
Painted during Picasso’s Rose Period, ““Garçon à la pipe” belonged to the German Jewish banker and art collector Paul von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy until his death in 1935. His widow subsequently sold the painting – against his will – and it was eventually purchased by diplomat John Hay Whitney for $30,000 in 1950. In 2004, Whitney’s foundation sold the painting at Sotheby’s for $104.2 million.
24. Three Studies of Lucian Freud, 1969
> Artist: Francis Bacon
> Sale price: $142,405,000, Nov. 12, 2013
> Inflation-adjusted price: $172,462,790
This triptych depicting Francis Bacon’s friend and rival artist Lucian Freud was divided for over a decade until the late ’80s. The complete trio was first exhibited in the U.S. in 1999 and in the U.K. in 2013. In November of 2013, “Three Studies of Lucian Freud” sold at Christie’s for $142.4 million to American billionaire Elaine Wynn.
23. Twelve Landscape Screens, 1925
> Artist: Qi Baishi
> Sale price: $140,800,000 (931.5 million yuan), Dec. 17, 2017
> Inflation-adjusted price: $176,478,380
This set of 12 ink-brush paintings by self-taught calligrapher Qi Baishi (1864-1957) – one of China’s most influential modern painters – was originally a birthday gift for a renowned Beijing doctor. The set was displayed numerous times in the ’50s and in 2017 it sold at Beijing Poly Auction for $140.8 million, making it the most expensive Chinese work of art ever sold.
22. Bal du Moulin de la Galette, 1876
> Artist: Pierre-Auguste Renoir
> Sale price: $78,100,000, May 17, 1990
> Inflation-adjusted price: $176,689,760
This outdoor dance hall scene by Renoir belonged to the French painter Gustave Caillebotte until his death, then spent over 30 years in the Musée de Luxembourg in Paris. It was bought by John Hay Whitney in 1929 for $165,000. In 1990, Whitney’s widow Betsey Cushing Whitney sold the painting at Sotheby’s for $78.1 million to a Japanese art collector who is believed to have forfeited the masterpiece to debt collectors, who privately re-sold it for only $50 million.
21. Nu Couché (Sur Le Côté Gauche), 1917
> Artist: Amedeo Modigliani
> Sale price: $157,200,000, May 14, 2018
> Inflation-adjusted price: $182,635,620
Part of a series of unabashed nudes that caused a scandal upon their first exhibition in Paris, this Modigliani sold for $139 million (plus a buyer’s premium, totaling $157.2 million) which fell short of the estimated $150 million hammer price that Sotheby’s was aiming for. Nevertheless, at the time of its sale, it was the highest price Sotheby’s had ever received at auction.
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