Here’s a list of the most expensive paintings of all time. It’s not definitive, as value in art is a slippery question. Art dealers can place a price on a piece, which may be much more or less than what it sells for.
Some pieces have been in the same hands for so long that the question of selling or buying it is moot.
So it’s interesting that, if we make the list again in a ten years’ time, it would be completely different. Art’s value rises and falls with taste and the decisions of powerful purchasers and curators.
Which leaves us with another question: can the price of art sometimes be a part of the work itself?
1. $300m: Nafea Faa Ipoipo? or When Will You Marry? by Paul Gauguin
Detail from Nafea Faa Ipoipo? or When Will You Marry? by Paul Gauguin.
2. $263.1m: The Card Players by Cézanne
4. $164.4 No.5, 1948 by Jackson Pollock
5. $161.5m Woman III by Willam de Kooning
6. $158.5m Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I by Gustav Klimt
8. $149.4m Portrait of Dr Gachet by Van Gogh
9. $144.7m Three Studies of Lucian Freud by Francis Bacon
10. $141.4m Bal du Moulin de la Galette by Auguste Renoir