Special Report

This Is the Most Expensive Artwork Ever Sold

Source: Thampapon / Getty Images

5. No. 20 (Yellow Expanse), 1953
> Artist: Mark Rothko
> Sale price: $200,000,000, date unknown (but no later than Sept.), 2014
> Inflation-adjusted price: $247,847,540

This massive 10 by 15 foot Rothko painting resided in the private collection of the self taught horticulturist and banking heiress Bunny Mellon until her death in 2014. It is presumed to have been sold privately along with two other paintings from her estate for a total of $300 million, with estimates that No. 20 sold for $200 million.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

4. Nafea Faa Ipoipo?, 1892
> Artist: Paul Gauguin
> Sale price: $210,000,000, Sept. (day unknown), 2014
> Inflation-adjusted price: $257,874,650

This painting by French post-impressionist painter Paul Gauguin was initially reported to have sold for nearly $300 million in a private deal in 2014; however an ensuing legal dispute involving an unpaid commission fee revealed that the painting had actually sold for $210 million – still a hefty sum – to the Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. Its Tahitian title translates to ‘When Will You Marry?’.

3. The Card Players, 1890-1892
> Artist: Paul Cézanne
> Sale price: $250,000,000+, April (day unknown), 2011
> Inflation-adjusted price: $324,909,070

From 1890 to 1985, the French post-impressionist painter Paul Cézanne produced a series of five paintings of card players in various settings. While four of them reside at various museums in the U.S., London, and Paris, the fifth is in the private collection of the royal family of Qatar. The wealthy nation purchased the painting in 2011 in a private deal for over $250 million, which at the time was the highest price ever paid for a work of art.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

2. Interchange, 1955
> Artist: Willem de Kooning
> Sale price: $300,000,000, Sept. (date unknown), 2015
> Inflation-adjusted price: $368,525,500

Soon after it was completed, this painting by Dutch-American abstract expressionist painter WIllem de Kooning sold for $4,000. It subsequently sold for $20.6 million in 1989, making it the most expensive artwork ever sold during a living artist’s lifetime. Along with Jackson Pollock’s “Number 17A,” hedge fund manager Ken Griffin purchased “Interchange” from the David Geffen Foundation in 2015.

Source: Carl Court / Getty Images News via Getty Images

1. Salvator Mundi, c. 1500
> Artist: Leonardo da Vinci
> Sale price: $450,300,000, Nov. 15, 2017
> Inflation-adjusted price: $533,593,150

This painting of Jesus Christ, believed to have been painted by Leonardo da Vinci and then painted over until it resembled a copy, was found at an estate sale in 2005 and purchased for $10,000. It was then restored and authenticated by multiple sources and sold to Swiss dealer Yves Bouvier, who sold it to Dmitry Rybolovlev for $127.5 million. The Russian oligarch then sold it through Christie’s for $450.3 million to a Saudi prince who purchased it for eventual display at the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

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