The pastime of art collecting has provided the world with many eye-catching price tags over the years. In 2019, of the most expensive artworks sold, 9 out of 10 commanded more than $50 million from the highest bidder, with the most expensive setting back $110.7 million for Claude Monet’s Meules, a stunning haystacks by sunrise/sunset creation from 1891. But where does this rank within the most expensive art pieces in the world? We decided to take a look and who knows, maybe it will inspire you to get your creative juices flowing by creating your very own canvas prints, using Parrot Print services. With some adjusted for inflation to reflect what they would sell for today, here are the most expensive artworks we have ever seen.
Leonardo Da Vinci’s ‘Salvator Mundi’
This portrait of Jesus Christ in Renaissance dress took an eye-watering $450.3 million in 2017 when the 500 year old painting was auctioned by Christie’s in New York. Meaning ‘Saviour of the World’, ‘Salvator Mundi’ depicts Jesus showing the sign of the cross with his right hand and holding a transparent orb in his left. The reason its price was so high is partly due to it being one of only twenty known Da Vinci pieces in the world, with its religious theme providing powerful imagery. In today’s pricing, Salvator Mundi would be valued at $469.7 million.
Willem De Kooning’s ‘Interchange’
The abstract, expressionist artist De Kooning created ‘Interchange’, a colourful abstract landscape, in 1955. It sold in 2015 for a then-record $300 million ($325 million today) at a private sale and is on loan to see at the Art Institute of Chicago. In his early days, De Kooning painted the female form, but with ‘Institute’, the artist made his foray into abstract landscapes. Little did the artist know that when he sold it soon after its completion for $4000, that it would command such a hefty fee 60 years on.
Paul Cézanne’s ‘The Card Players’
Painted during the artists final years, ‘The Card Players’ is a series of oil paintings by the French post-impressionist Cézanne. The artwork’s exact price is unknown but is estimated to have sold for between $250-$300 million ($285-$310 million today) in 2011 at a private sale to the Royal family of Qatar. It depicts peasants of the French region of Provence playing cards together and is one of five paintings Cézanne depicting of card players. The simple pastime has been immortalised into one of the best examples of the French artist’s works.
Paul Gauguin’s ‘When Will You Marry?’
Translated from the Tahitian ‘Nafea Faa Opoipo’, ‘When Will You Marry?’ is a 40 x 30-inch oil canvas that depicts two Tahitian women, one dressed in traditional Tahiti clothing and the other in a Western-style dress, set to a background of the surrounding landscape. Sold in 2014 for $210 million ($227 million today), the artist would never have dreamed of his piece commanding such a fee. The French post-impressionist created the work after travelling to Tahiti for the first time in 1892, wanting to capture life as it was to showcase when returning to France, but to unremarkable reviews at the time.
Jackson Pollack’s ‘Number 17A’
Although its title leaves a lot to the imagination, the piece itself is unmistakably signature Pollack. ‘Number 17A’ showcases the abstract expressionists creative best, full of vibrant colour and Pollack’s unique paint splatter-style. Interestingly, this was purchased by the same buyer as De Kooning’s ‘Interchange’ in 2015 by Kenneth Griffin, obviously not short of cash, when purchased for $200 million ($210 million today). His paintings have divided many over the years due to their seemingly random nature, but ‘Number 17A’ proves Pollacks lasting effect on the art world.
Overall, Claude Monet’s masterpiece finds itself currently 36th on the list of the most expensive artworks of all time, falling way short of the 5 most expensive. Time will tell how long before all these examples are pushed further down the list when the next large sum is paid out. Considering some of the featured artists’ modest backgrounds, it’s not too far fetched that you could be a future list maker by selling your own unique pieces – time to get creative!