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The Top 5 Most Expensive Paintings Ever Sold at Auction

  Painting Price Artist Auction House Date Sold
1 Salvator Mundi
(painted 1490 - 1519)
$450,300,000 Leonardo Da Vinci Christie's
(New York)
15 Nov 2017
2 Les Femmes d'Alger
(painted in 1954)
$179,000,000 Pablo Picasso Christie's
(New York)
11 May 2015
3 Nu Couché
(painted in 1917-18)
$170,400,000 Amedeo Modigliani Christie's
(New York)
9 Nov 2015
4 Three Studies of Lucian Freud
(painted in 1969)
$142,400,000 Francis Bacon Christie's
(New York)
12 Nov 2013
5 The Scream
(painted in 1895)
$119,922,500 Edvard Munch Sotheby's
(New York)
2 May 2012
Tags The Arts , Top 5 Most Expensive , Top 5 Most

Sources: Top 5 of Anything research including: www.christies.com, www.sothebys.com, BBC.

List Notes: Data is most expensive paintings sold at auction.* Figures include the buyer's premium (in auctions, the buyer's premium is a percentage additional charge on the hammer price of the lot). Figures are selling price on the day of auction and are not adjusted for inflation.

*Please note: there are various lists of the most expensive paintings to be found on the internet and Top 5 of Anything has not included private painting sales as accurate figures of private transactions are difficult to completely verify.
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  1. A mysterious unidentified telephone bidder bought "The Scream" (later rumoured to be Leon David Black, an American businessman). The auction set a record for the most expensive piece of art ever to be auctioned to date. A significantly higher figure than the starting price at $50 million. The final bid elicited an excitable cheer from the crowd, capping an auction that lasted only 12 minutes. (1.) Overall, the sale brought in $330.6 million, against an estimate of about $245 million to $325 million, and 80 per cent of the 76 lots on offer found buyers. The total was Sotheby's highest-ever for an Impressionist and Modern auction, beating the old mark of $286 million, which had stood since 1990. It was also the auction house's second-best evening in its history. (2.)
  2. "Nude, Green Leaves and Bust" is a 1932 painting by Pablo Picasso that features the artist's mistress, Marie-Thérèse Walter. For almost 60 years, the painting was a staple in the personal collection of art Sidney and Frances Brody. Nude, Green Leaves and Bust is one of the sequence of paintings of Picasso's muse, (Walter) made by Picasso at Boisgeloup, Normandy, in the early months of 1932. It was sold at auction by the Frances Lasker Brody estate and nobody knows who bought the painting.
  3. Picasso painted Garçon à la pipe when he was just 24 years old. It was painted during his "rose" period, a period where he painted in brighter more colourful colours. This period only lasted 2 years. It was rumoured to have been bought by Guido Barilla, owner of the Barilla Group.
  4. Dora Maar au Chat by Pablo Picasso was painted in 1941 during the Second World War. The painting depicts Dora Maar, Picasso's lover, sitting in a chair. The painting was painted during his ten year relationship with Dora Maar, which began when Picasso was fifty five years old. The portrait was obtained by Lee and Mary Block, art collectors from Chicago, very shortly after it was painted in 1941 and was sold at auction for $95,216,000 in 2006.
  5. Other paintings have fetched higher prices in private sales (not included on this list for verification reasons) such as: The Card Players by Paul Cézanne for $259 million; Le Rêve by Pablo Picasso for $155 million; No. 5, 1948 by Jackson Pollock for $140 million ; Woman III by Willem de Kooning for $135.5 million and Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I by Gustav Klimt for $135 million U.S. dollars.
Top 5 facts sources:
  1. Chakelian. A. “Edvard Munch’s The Scream Sells for a Record $120 Million at Auction.” (2012). Time Magazine. Retrieved May 9th, 2012
  2. Michaud, C. "Munch's 'The Scream' sells for record $120 million." (2012). Montreal Gazette. Retrieved May 9th, 2012.

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