Most Expensive Pieces of Art in History

8. Portrait of Adele Block-Bauer I by Gustav Klimt


This breathtaking gol-flecked picture, painted by Gustav Klimt, sold in 2006 to Ronald Lauder, the cosmetics mogul, for $158.5 million, which was a record at the time. This extraordinary painting also has quite a story to it – it was seized by the Nazis during the war, and later reclaimed by the rightful owner’s niece when she was in her 80’s.

7. Le Réve by Pablo Picasso

Steven Cohen, a hedge fund billionaire and a passionate art collector, purchased this Pablo Picasso painting in 2013 for $158.5 million from Steve Wynn, the casino baron. Wynn originally agreed to sell Le Réve to Cohen in 2006, however, he accidentally put his elbow through the painting due to his bad eyesight. Once the painting had been repaired, the deal went through.

6. Woman III by Willem de Kooning

Women III was sold by David Geffen, the entertainment tycoon and co-founder of Dreamworks. He sold the painting to Steven Cohen for $162.4 million. This painting is the third in a series of six paintings by Willem de Kooning. The pictures were all completed by the abstract expressionism painter between 1951 and 1953.

5. No 5, 1948 by Jackson Pollock

In a secret sale in 2006, brokered by Sotheby’s, No 5, 1948 by Jackson Pollock was bought for $165.4 million. The eight by four foot fiberboard painting is covered with drips of yellow and brown paint was another painting sold by David Geffen. It was rumored that David Martinez was the buyer; however, his lawyer released a statement saying he was not the owner.

4. Les Femmes d’Alger (Version O) by Pablo Picasso

World renowned painter Pablo Picasso created a series of 15 paintings, all variations of his Les Femmes d’Alger, which were inspired by the French master Eugene Delacroix who painted The Women of Algiers in 1834. Version O is the culmination of the series, and is considered the most important painting of Picasso’s that is privately owned, and was bought for over $179 million by a private buyer.

3. No. 6 (Violet, Green and Red) by Mark Rothko

This simple and tasteful painting by American painter Mark Rothko was bought by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev for $186 million, which set a record for the most expensive piece of work by Rothko. No. 6 (Violet, Green and Red) has been the source of much contention, and is now at the center of a legal dispute between Dmitry Rybolovlev and art dealer Yves Bouvier who is accused of misleading him about the paintings price.

2. The Card Players by Paul Cézanne

Bought in 2011 for a staggering $274 million by Qatar, this painting was, until recently, the most expensive painting ever sold. One of a series of five paintings, by Paul Cézanne in the 1890’s, The Card Players features two men playing cards, with contradictory colors and features being used to create balance, despite being asymmetrical.

1. When Will You Marry by Paul Gauguin


This beautiful canvas of two Tahitian girls, painted by Paul Gauguin in 1982, is the world’s most expensive piece of art, having been bought by Qatar for a whopping $300 million. The picture was painted during Gauguin’s first trip to Tahiti, which he did to escape the artificial convention that he felt existed in Europe. The painting depicts two dark skinned females relaxing in the fields next to water and a tree.