The Most Expensive Paintings Ever Sold

What makes a painting truly great? And why do some paintings carry such an exorbitant price than others? One answer is that all items are priced based on the principle of supply and demand, and rare art is just that, it is rare and only one of its kind exists in the whole world. Coupled to the fact that most of the guys that created that art is dead, and so the chances of it, or a better version of it, being produced are zero. Taking all this into account, the following list of the most expensive paintings ever sold is quite shocking, some would say extortionate. But we are not here to moralize about the money, just to look at the art.

Gauguin – When Will You Marry – $300m

This painting by French artist Gauguin smashed the world record for the single most expensive piece of art ever sold. The painting was inspired on his first trip to Tahiti, and is of two Tahitian girls possibly discussing the question of when they will marry? Gauguin paintings on his Tahiti trip were met with indifference when he returned to France a couple of years later, so he wrote an autobiographical account of his voyage, which was highly descriptive and quite erotic.

Cezanne – The Card Players – $274m

This painting was originally one of a series of five on the same subject, and were painted during the end of his life in the 1890’s. Although the series is all about men playing cards the sizes of the paintings all vary and the locations change. The Qatar Royal Family purchased this work of art for $274 million and made it the second most expensive piece of art in the world.

Rothko – No. 6 (Violet, Green and Red) – $186m

This painting by the American artist Rothko was sold in a private sale in 2014 and was bought by Russian Billionaire, Dmitry Rybolovlev. There is now some dispute going on over the sale about misrepresentation of the price. However, the painting is an abstract and was painted in 1951 and follows commonality with other works that Rothko painted at the time. The painting features large expanses of brash colour with uneven hazier shades providing contrast.

Picasso – Les Femmes d’Alger (Version O) – $179m

Picasso was probably the most famous of all the Cubist artists, and this painting of the Women of Algiers is just one of a series of fifteen on the subject. The series of the Women of Algiers was painted during a two-year period between 1954 and 1955. Picasso took his inspiration from the earlier work of Eugene Delacroix back in 1834, The Women of Algiers in their Apartment. The series of drawings and paintings are attributed by Picasso as a tribute to the artists he admired. This painting Version O, marks the end of the series and is widely considered to be one of his best ever works.

The large amounts of money paid out for these paintings is simply staggering. But how can you possibly place a monetary figure that is something unique, something that cannot be replicated and something that represents the culture of a species at that moment in time.