Famous, valuable, and most expensive paintings in the world, especially old masterworks created before 1803, are generally owned or held at museums and are considered priceless. One such example is Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, which is on permanent display at the Louvre in Paris.
It was assessed at $100 million on December 14, 1962. Adjusted for inflation, this value would be around $970 million in 2022. The following is a list of the most expensive paintings in the world with their estimated prices in 2023:
1, World’s top priciest painting – Mona Lisa: $970 Million
The Mona Lisa is a portrait painting by the Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci. It is widely considered to be the archetypal masterpiece of the Italian Renaissance.
The Mona Lisa painting was believed to have been painted between 1503 and 1506 by the Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci 12. However, it is possible that Leonardo continued working on it as late as 1517. The painting was created using oil paint on a poplar wood panel.
The Mona Lisa is painted on three pieces of wood, which are about 1.5 inches thick. The painting is not very large, measuring just 30 inches by 21 inches, and weighing 18 pounds. The Mona Lisa’s eyes appear to follow you as you move around the room. This is known as the “Mona Lisa Effect”. The painting has been attacked several times. In 1956, a man threw acid at the painting. A few months later, another man threw a rock at it, chipping some of its pigment. The painting now is secured behind bullet-proof glass due to the most expensive paintings in the world.
2, World’s second priciest painting – Salvador Mundi: $450 Million
Salvator Mundi is a painting attributed to Leonardo da Vinci that was completed around 1500. The painting depicts Jesus Christ in Renaissance-era robes, holding a crystal orb in his left hand and raising his right hand in benediction.
It is one of the most expensive paintings in the world. The painting has an intriguing history. It was acquired by Charles I of England in the early 17th century and was later sold by the son of the Duke of Buckingham at a public auction in 1763 1. The painting then disappeared from public view until it was rediscovered in 2005 and was subsequently restored. In 2017, it became the most expensive work of art ever sold when it was auctioned at Christie’s, New York, for $450.3 million.
3, World’s third priciest painting – Interchange William de Kooning: $300 Million
The most expensive paintings in the world – Interchange, also known as Interchanged, is an abstract expressionist oil painting on canvas by Dutch-American painter Willem de Kooning. It was completed in 1955 and measures 200.7 by 175.3 centimeters. The painting marked the transition of the subjects of de Kooning’s paintings from women to abstract urban landscapes. The picture features a woman sitting on a chair, but the woman just appears as a pick mass.
The painting was originally sold by the artist in 1955 for $4,000. In September 2015, it was sold by the David Geffen Foundation to Kenneth C. Griffin for $300 million, ranking it third on the list of most expensive paintings in the world. Some of the titles for these works were associated with various states of Woman I, Woman III, and Woman, as well as Two Standing Women.
4, World’s fourth priciest painting – Paul Cezanne The Card Player: $250 million
The Card Players is a series of oil paintings by the French Post-Impressionist artist Paul Cézanne, painted during Cézanne’s final period in the early 1890s. These are the most expensive paintings in the world. Among them, there are five paintings in the series, and the versions vary in size, the number of players, and the setting in which the game takes place. The painting depicts Provençal peasants immersed in their pipes and playing cards.
The subjects, all male, are displayed as studious in their card playing, eyes cast downward, intent on the game at hand. Cézanne adapted a motif from 17th-century Dutch and French genre painting which often depicted card games with rowdy, drunken gamblers in taverns, replacing them instead with stone-faced tradesmen in a more simplified setting. The models for the paintings were local farmhands, some of whom worked on the Cézanne family estate, the Jas de Bouffan. One version of The Card Players was sold in 2011 to the Royal Family of Qatar for a price estimated at $250 million ($325.2 million today), signifying a new mark for the highest-ever price for a painting, not surpassed until November 2017.
5, World’s fifth priciest painting – When Will You Marry by 1892 Paul Gauguin: $210 Million
When Will You Marry? (French: Quand te maries-tu ?, Tahitian: Nafea faa ipoipo?) is an oil painting from 1892 by the French Post-Impressionist artist Paul Gauguin. On loan to the Kunstmuseum in Basel, Switzerland for nearly a half-century, it was sold privately by the family of Rudolf Staechelin to Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad Al-Thani, in February 2015 for close to US$210 million (£155 million), one of the highest prices ever paid for a work of art. The painting was on exhibition at the Fondation Beyeler, Riehen, until 28 June 2015 these are another of the most expensive paintings in the world.
6, World’s sixth priciest painting – Number 17A by Jackson Pollock: $200 Million
Number 17A is an abstract expressionist painting by Jackson Pollock. It was painted in 1948, a year after Pollock introduced his famous drip technique. The artwork is an oil painting on fiberboard and is a good example of drip painting. The abundance of paint creates a complex color vortex where the top and bottom layers are impossible to differentiate. Smudges of yellow, blue, and black on the fiberboard help soften the image, while three nearly parallel white brushstrokes grab our attention and direct our gaze diagonally up the image.
In 2015, Number 17A was sold by the David Geffen Foundation to Kenneth C. Griffin, an American hedge fund manager and billionaire, for $200 million, setting the world record for the most expensive paintings in the world and ever sold at that point. These are the most expensive paintings in the world, the previous record was held by Water Serpents II by Gustav Klimt, which was sold in a private sale for $183.8 million in 2013.
7, World’s seventh priciest painting – The Flag Bearer by Rembrandt: $198 Million
The Standard Bearer is a self-portrait of Rembrandt as a militia captain. He painted it in 1636, when he moved from Leiden to Amsterdam, and aspired to paint a group portrait for the Amsterdam militia. The painting symbolizes the rebelliousness of the painter and his country, as well as his artistic ambition and skill. The painting should not be confused with another work with the same title, depicting Hitler as a knight, by Hubert Lanzinger.
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, usually simply known as Rembrandt, was a Dutch Golden Age painter, printmaker, and draughtsman. An innovative and prolific master in three media, he is generally considered one of the greatest visual artists in the history of art. It is estimated Rembrandt produced a total of about three hundred paintings, three hundred etchings, and two thousand drawings and hence considered as most expensive paintings in the world.
8, World’s eighth priciest painting – The Marilyn Diptych (1962) by American pop artist Andy Warhol: $195 Million
The painting consists of 50 images. Each image of the actress is taken from a single publicity photograph from the film Niagara (1953). The underlying publicity photograph that Warhol used as a basis for his many paintings and prints of Marilyn, and the Marilyn Diptych, was owned and distributed by her movie studio. Marilyn Diptych was completed just weeks after Marilyn Monroe’s death in August 1962.
Silk-screening was the technique used to create this painting. The twenty-five images on the left are painted in color, and the right side is black and white. The Marilyn Diptych is in the collection of the Tate. It has been suggested that the relation between the left side of the canvas and the right side of the canvas is evocative of the relation between the celebrity’s life and death and known as the most expensive paintings in the world.
9, World’s Ninth Priciest Painting – Number 6 by Mark Rothko: $186 Million
No. 6 (Violet, Green, and Red) is a 1951 painting by the Latvian-American abstract expressionist artist Mark Rothko. It was painted in 1951. In common with Rothko’s other works from this period, No. 6 consists of large expanses of color delineated by uneven, hazy shades. In 2014, it became one of the most expensive paintings in the world and sold at auction.
Mark Rothko, born Markus Yakovlevich Rothkowitz creator of the most expensive paintings in the world, was a Russian-born American abstract painter. He is best known for his color field paintings that depicted irregular and painterly rectangular regions of color, which he produced from 1949 to 1970.
10, World’s Tenth Priciest Painting – Water Serpent by Gustav Klimt: $184 Million
Water Serpents II, also referred to as Wasserschlangen II, is an oil painting made by Gustav Klimt in 1907. It is the follow-up painting to the earlier painting Water Serpents I. Like the first painting, Water Serpents II deals with the sensuality of women’s bodies and same-sex relationships. The painting has a rich history. During World War II, it was stolen by the Nazis, and more recently, it has been the center of a controversy surrounding its record 2013 sale. As of December 2019, it is the 6th most expensive paintings in the world and the most valuable work by Klimt to sell.
Water Serpents II, also referred to as Wasserschlangen II, is an oil painting made by Gustav Klimt in 1907. It is the follow-up painting to the earlier painting Water Serpents I which also considered the most expensive paintings in the world. Like the first painting, Water Serpents II deals with the sensuality of women’s bodies and same-sex relationships.