The 20 Most Expensive Paintings in the World - Ranking 2021

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Lluis Enric Mayans

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You could tell what they are the most expensive paintings in the world? Even if you have some vague ideas about it, know that you will hardly be able to admire them since they are mostly found in the home of wealthy people (or in their safes). Are you curious? Find out with us the 15 most precious paintings on the planet and their owners!

15 - False Start: $ 84,6 million

  • Author: Jasper Johns
  • Date: 1959
  • Technique: oil on canvas
  • Measurements: cm 137x170
  • Current Owner: Sold by David Geffen to Kenneth C. Griffin in 2006

This work is by the American artist Johns, exponent of the New Dada, an American artistic movement close to the New French Realism. According to this form of expression, the objects of common use they must be inserted in the artwork, thus overcoming the problem of the reproduction of reality. Jasper Johns was elected Academic of Honor of the Academy of Drawing Arts in Florence.

14 - Pierrette's wedding: $ 84,8 million

  • Author: Pablo Picasso
  • Date: 1905
  • Technique: oil on canvas
  • Measurements: cm 115x195
  • Current owner: work sold by Fredrik Roos to Tomonori Tsurumaki in 1989

Is considered the last work of the Blue Period (1901 - 1904) by Picasso, a moment that corresponds to a difficult phase in the life of the artist, who suffered from loneliness after the suicide of his close friend Casagemas. The subject of this work is the "marriage of convenience", also treated by Francisco Goya in a famous painting. The young and delicate Pierrette marries her rich, old and ugly impresario. Pierrette faces the Harlequin, who sends her a kiss, and, surprised, puts her hand to her mouth while her husband stares at the insolent. L'atmosphere charged with anguish of this sad wedding is rendered by the cold tones and the vivid light.

13 - 1976 Triptych: $ 85,5 million

  • Author: Francis Bacon
  • Date: 1976
  • Technique: oil and pastels on canvas
  • Dimensions: each of the 3 canvases measures 198x147,5 cm
  • Current owner: bought by Roman Abramovich in 2008

An important work, not to mention fundamental, in the artistic life of Bacon to whom a monographic essay has even been dedicated. An unusual number of figurative elements e a construction as crooked as it is ostentatiously organizedis immersed in a cloud of possible literary allusions. The main theme is the body curse, which the artist perceives as millennial.

12 - Massacre of the Innocents: $ 90,9 million

  • Author: Peter Paul Rubens
  • Date: 1611
  • Technique: oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: they are two works of 182x140 cm
  • Current owner: Sold by an Austrian family to Kenneth Thompson in 2002

The work tells a tragic and forceful vision, rich in details, so much so as to make the painting almost alive in the eyes of the viewer. This masterpiece represents "the massacre of the innocents", an episode from the Gospel. Herod the Great, king of Judea, orders a massacre of children in order to kill Jesus, of whose birth in Bethlehem he had previously been informed. This picture was long forgotten and believed to be the work of a minor artist for a cataloging error due to a previous imperfect transcription, so much so that the owner had relegated him to a small roomEtc.

11 - Portrait of Adele Bloch Bauer II: $ 93 million

  • Author: Gustav Klimt
  • Date: 1912
  • Technique: oil on canvas
  • Measurements: cm 190x120
  • Current owner: sold by Maria Altmann in 2006 to an anonymous buyer for the public

Second version of a famous work by the same author and his Golden Period, in which he transfigured the image of the model into an unattainable and timeless pagan idol. In this picture, however, the subject returns to being an elegant woman of her time, dressed in fashion. The ornamental component is still accentuated and the flat background resembles a series of overlapping tapestries or tapestries.

10 - Self-portraits: $ 93,5 million

  • Author: Vincent Van Gogh
  • Date: 1886 and following years
  • Technique: oil on canvas
  • Size:?
  • Current owner: anonymous buyer for the public

Van Gogh, during his lifetime, he painted many self-portraits. Even between 1886 and 1889 he represented himself 37 times! In all these works, the painter's gaze is rarely directed towards the observer. Even when it is fixed, it seems to be looking away. The paintings vary in intensity and color and some portray the artist with a beard and others without. In this case the 4 works show the painter in bearded version.

9 - Portrait of Joseph Roulin: $ 99,7 million

  • Author: Vincent Van Gogh
  • Date: 1889
  • Technique: oil on canvas
  • Measurements: cm 81,3x65,4
  • Current owner: sold to the Museum of Modern Art in New York (USA) by a private collector in 1989

The man in uniform is Joseph Roulin, Arles postman and good friend of Van Gogh. He will be portrayed a total of six times, alone or in the company of family members, with whom Van Gogh was on good terms. Roulin's wife, Augustine, will be portrayed in the La Berceuse canvas. Roulin wears the typical postman uniform. His face, serene and ruddy, is framed by a thick beard. In a letter to his brother Theo, Vincent compared the postman to Socrates.

8 - Dora Maar with cat: $ 100,7 million

  • Author: Pablo Picasso
  • Date: 1941
  • Technique: oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 128,3 × 95,3 cm
  • Current owner: sold by the Gidwitz family in 2006 to an anonymous buyer for the public

In this work Picasso portrays his young mistress with a black cat on her shoulder. It is the second Picasso painting auctioned with the highest value (preceded only by the "Boy with a Pipe", 104,2 million dollars).

7 - Iris: $ 101,2 million

  • Author: Vincent Van Gogh
  • Date: 1889
  • Technique: oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 71 × 93 cm
  • Current owner: purchased by Alan Bond in 1987

It is one of the first works performed by the artist during his hospitalization at thehospital of San Paul-de-Mausole in Saint-Rémy in the year preceding his death. Van Gogh considered this work a study, although her brother Theo judged her positively and sent her to the annual exhibition of the Société des Artistes Indépendants. He wrote to Vincent about the exhibition: "Irises are a studio full of air and life".

6 - Boy with a Pipe: $ 117,6 million

  • Author: Pablo Picasso
  • Date: 1905
  • Technique: oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 1 m × 81 cm
  • Current owner: sold in 2004 to an anonymous buyer for the public

L'Opera it was realized by the artist immediately after settling down in his Montmartre residence, in Paris. The canvas portrays a little boy, known as Petit Louis, who wandered around the Spanish painter's studio. The gray skin tones make the boy look sickly and help create a decadent vibe. The deep red of the rose crown contrasts strongly with the muted colors of the rest of the work.

5 - Ball at the Moulin de la Galette: $ 127,4 million

  • Author: Pierre-Auguste Renoir
  • Date: 1876
  • Technique: oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 131 × 175 cm
  • Current Owner: Sold by Betsey Whitney to Ryoei Saito in 1990

Renoir was a master of grasping ordinary everyday events. In this masterpiece he sets a moment of Parisian life in an atmosphere of happy abandonment, portraying the carefree e il taste of the Belle Époque. The Moulin de la Galette, a place set up in an old mill, was located at the top of the Montmartre hill, the artists' quarter. The name of the place referred to the sweets (in French galettes, in fact) which were offered as a drink included in the entrance price of 25 cents. Renoir attended him for six months to be able to seize that unbridled joy that he will then masterfully express in this painting.

4 - Portrait of Doctor Gachet: $ 134,6 million

  • Author: Vincent Van Gogh
  • Date: 1890
  • Technique: oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 68 × 57 cm
  • Current owner: sold by the Kramarsky family to Ryoei Saito in 1990

Paul Gachet was an art-loving psychiatrist. He met Vincent van Gogh through the latter's brother, Theo, and immediately the two found themselves in harmony in the analogous vision of art. The doctor made himself available to pose for the artist who for a long time had been looking for a model to portray from life. Working in communion to the realization of the work, the two obtained an extraordinary result. The doctor was so pleased that he wanted a copy of the painting made. The painting è extremely innovative because Van Gogh abandons here the static and conventional poses of the previous paintings. In a letter addressed to his colleague and friend Paul Gauguin he wrote that the sad face of the doctor is "the disillusioned expression of our time".

3 - Portrait of Adele Bloch Bauer I: $ 142,8 million

  • Author: Gustav Klimt
  • Date: 1907
  • Technique: oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 138 × 138 cm
  • Current owner: Sold by Maria Altmann to Ronald Lauder & Neue Galerie in 2006

First of two homonymous paintings (as we have also seen in this ranking), it is considered the last and most representative of the author's Golden Period. After being stolen by the Nazis along with all the belongings of the Bloch-Bauer family, the work was claimed decades later by Adele's granddaughter, who escaped persecution of the Jews, who was finally able to get back into possession of the painting only following a procedure legal. The painting portrays Adele Bloch-Bauer, daughter of the entrepreneur Maurice Bauer, then married to the son of Baron Bloch, a very important sugar industrialist thanks to whom she consecrated her social affirmation. Adele is set in a vibrant background of light that creates a distinctly two-dimensional style.

2 - Woman III: $ 145,4 million

  • Author: Willem de Kooning
  • Date: 1953
  • Technique: Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 172,7 × 123,2 cm
  • Current Owner: Sold by David Geffen in 2006 to Steve Cohen

It is part of a series of 6 paintings, executed between 1951 and 1953. The abstract work is by the Dutch-American expressionist who created this series of paintings with the woman as a central theme.

1- No. 5 - 1948: $ 148,1 million

  • Author: Jackson Pollock
  • Date: 1948
  • Technique: Oil on fiberboard
  • Dimensions: 2,4 × 1,2 m
  • Current Owner: Sold by David Geffen to David Martinez in 2006

An innovative work of its kind, created with synthetic colors and resins cast on the support used as a canvas. Gray, brown, white and yellow create a kind of network which to many onlookers appears to be the intertwining of some bird's nest. This abstract creation of the great Pollock really owns a huge value!

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