A friend sent me an email that is going around of the Top Ten of Everything which has all sorts of interesting statistics should you care to view them. In doing a little prowling of my own, I came across a Top Ten in art sales. With the full realization that these are always changing and don't take private sales into account, here is this snapshot of expensive paintings. Things are moving fast. There was a time with Van Gogh's Irises held the record at $53.9 million. Now that price wouldn't get you near the top ten, so save some more pennies before going shopping and take a good look to see if you would have bought any of them if you had the cash to enter a bid.
Artist/ painting/ sale year Price ($)
1 Pablo Picasso, Garçon à la pipe, 2004 104,168,000
2 Pablo Picasso, Dora Maar Au Chat
3 Gustav Klimt, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II, 2006 87,936,000
4 Francis Bacon, Triptych, 2008 86,281,000
5 Vincent van Gogh, Portrait du Dr Gachet, 1990 82,500,000
6 Claude Monet, Le Bassin aux Nymphéas, 2008 80,379,591
7 Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Bal au Moulin de la Galette, Montmartre, 1990 78,100,000
8 Sir Peter Paul Rubens, The Massacre of the Innocents, 2002 75,930,440
9 Mark Rothko, White Center (Yellow, pink and lavender on rose), 2007 72,840,000
10 Andy Warhol, Green Car Crash – Green Burning Car I, 2007 71,720,000
Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich was revealed as the buyer of Francis Bacon’s Triptych. The price he paid is a record for a post-war painting. The previous day he had purchased Lucian Freud’s Benefits Supervisor Sleeping for $33.6 million, a record price for a work by a living artist.
Even higher prices are reputed to have been paid for works of art sold privately. Such sales are rarely publicized, but it is believed that in 2006 US music mogul David Geffen sold Jackson Pollock’s No.5, 1948 for $140 million.
A private sale that never happened was that of Pablo Picasso’s painting Le rêve. Its owner, Las Vegas casino owner Steve Wynn, agreed to sell it privately for $139 million, but while showing it to a group of friends, Mr Wynn made a sweeping gesture and accidentally poked his elbow through the canvas, resulting in a 15-cm (6-inch) tear – and the cancellation of the sale.