Leonardo and Raphael were more than just teenage mutant ninja turtles. They were actually masters in the art of painting who lived during the High Renaissance period of the 15th to 16th centuries. Painting masters have been around for the longest time, from the 13th century proto-renaissance of Cimabue and Pucelle to romanticist era that featured the likes of Goya.
Their paintings are invaluable, so much so that stringent security measures are applied in the museums where they are displayed. Here now is a list of the top 10 most expensive paintings in the world based on the original price that it was sold.
1. The Card Players (1892-93), Paul Cezanne – $259 million
This is actually a series of five paintings done by the post-impressionist artist from France named Paul Cezanne. The first two featured three card players. One has a single spectator aside from the three players and is housed with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The other has two spectators and is owned by the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. The last three featured two players only. One is housed with the Musee d’ Orsay in Paris and another at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London. The largest one was sold to the royal family of Qatar in 2011 for $259 million.
2. No. 5, 1948 (1948), Jackson Pollock – $140 million
An unknown buyer bought this painting via a private sale through Sotheby’s in 2006. Originally owned by Samuel Irving Newhouse Jr., the painting is an example of the abstract expressionist movement. It features what appears to be a nest made by liberal amounts of yellow and brown paint drizzled over the canvas.
3. Woman III (1953), Willem de Kooning – $137.5 million
Steven Cohen bought this painting in 2006. The abstract expressionist painting used to be a featured piece at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art. The Islamic Revolution of 1979, however, led to the banning of the artwork that featured a rough model of a woman. It was then traded in 1994 to David Geffen, who then sold the piece to Cohen. It is one of a series of six paintings by the artist that had a woman as the central theme.
4. Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1907), Gustav Klimt – $135 million
This Klimt classic was sold to Ronald Lauder of Neue Galerie in 2006. He used as his model Adele Block-Bauer, the wife of the wealthy Austrian industrialist Ferdinand Block-Bauer. Klimt would later use her again as a model in 1912. Painted in oil and gold, the painting features complex ornamentation in the Jugendstil style. The Nazis confiscated it during the Second World War before it was finally awarded to Maria Altmann, the niece of Bloch-Bauer, in 2006.
5. The Scream (1895), Edvard Munch – $119.9 million
Leon Black bought this 1895 pastel through a Sotheby’s auction in New York in 2012. There are four versions to this painting that was collectively entitled as Der Schrei der Natur, or The Scream of Nature. The artwork features a figure with an agonized and pained expression. The figure is set against a backdrop of a fiery orange sky. The other three versions are in Oslo in Norway. One painting is with the National Gallery of Oslo. The second painting and the other pastel are with the Munch Museum in the same city.
6. Nude, Green Leaves and Bust (1932), Pablo Picasso – $106.5 million
An unknown buyer bought this painting in 2010 at a Christie’s auction in New York. This oil on canvas painting features the mistress and muse of Picasso named Marie Therese Walter. The canvas has a vibrant blue and lilac color. It is the second most expensive painting to be sold at an auction.
7. Garcon a la Pipe (1905), Pablo Picasso – $104.2 million
This Picasso artwork was bought by the Barilla Group through an auction conducted by Sotheby’s in 2004 from the Greentree Foundation. A young Picasso did the painting in 1905 when he was just 24 years old. He used cheerful colors that were common of his work during his Rose Period. The painting was done in the Montmartre section of France and it showed a young local sporting a wreath of flowers or garland on his head while holding a pipe in his left hand. The painting is not really considered as one of the masterpieces of Picasso as it does not have the artistic and historical value of his other works. While it is a pleasant piece of art, the extremely high price paid for it probably had to do with the name of the artist himself rather than the beauty of the painting itself.
8. Eight Elvises (1963), Andy Warhol – $100 million
Annibale Berlingieri sold this artwork to an unknown buyer through a private sale arranged by Philippe Segalot in 2008. It is actually a silkscreen painting done by the renowned American pop artist Andy Warhol. It featured the “King of Rock and Roll” himself, Elvis Presley.
9. Dora Maar au Chat (1941), Pablo Picasso – $95.2 million
Boris Ivanishvili bought this painting from the Gidwitz family in 2006 at a Sotheby’s auction in New York. This is the third Picasso on the list and just like the first one, it featured one of the painter’s lovers. This time, the lover who posed for the master artist was Dora Maar, a woman 26 years younger than him. Picasso had done several paintings of Maar during their relationship that lasted nearly 10 years. The painting was done at a time when the Nazis were occupying France.
10. Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II (1912), Gustav Klimt – $87.9 million
This is the second painting of Klimt that featured Adele Bloch-Bauer. The first one is at number four on this list. Adele’s rich husband, who was an active supporter of the painter, commissioned it. It was stolen by the Nazis and had hung in an Austrian museum that refused to give it back to the Bauer family. It was only in 2006, after a long court battle, that the niece of Bauer took possession of it.