The Top 5 Most Expensive Paintings in the World

5. Gustav Klimt’s The Portrait of Adele Blochbouer I, 1906
$155.8 million


Maria Altmann sold this painting in 2006 to Ronald Lauder and his Neue Galerie for $135 million, which would be the equivalent today of 155.8 million dollars.

This painting, which took Klimt three years to complete depicts Adele Bloch-Bauer, the wife of a Jewish sugar industrialist, Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer, who commissioned Klimt to paint her. According to family members, Adele Bloch-Bauer was a serious woman who immersed herself in the artistic and intellectual circles of Vienna. Klimt and Adele-Bloch Bauer are described to have had a close relationship and some art historians have even suggested that they were lovers.

After being confiscated by the Nazis during the Second World War, the painting was rightfully returned to one of the nieces of Adele Bloch-Bauer, Maria Altmann, before being sold to the Neue Galerie in 2006.

4. Pablo Picasso’s Le Rêve, 1932
$155.9 million

Pablo Picasso's Le Rêve, 1932

Steve Wynn sold this painting to David A. Cohen in March 2013 for $155 million, which would be the equivalent today of 155.9 million dollars.

Painted by Picasso when he was 50 years old, this painting depicts his 24 year old lover, Marie-Therese Walter, who he met in 1927 outside Galerie Lafayette. She features in many of Picasso’s works, and proved to be a major source of creative inspiration for him. ‘Rêve’, which is said to have been painted in only one afternoon, is one of his many intimate portraits of her sleeping.


3. William de Kooning’s Woman III, 1953
$159.8 million

William de Kooning, Woman III, 1953

David Geffen reportedly sold this painting in 2006 to David Martinez for $137.5 million, which would be the equivalent today of 159.8 million dollars.

Willem de Kooning’s painting ‘Women III’ is one of a series of six paintings. The series shows de Kooning’s preoccupation with the female form which became an increasingly prominent theme in his work from the 1940s onwards. A defining feature of the women in this series is their grinning smiles and wide eyes, which may have been inspired by Mesopotamian figurines.


2. Jackson Pollock’s No. 5, 1948, 1948
$162.7 million

Jackson Pollock No. 5, 1948

In 2006 David Martinez reportedly purchased Pollock’s ‘No. 5, ‘from David Geffen for $140 million which would be the equivalent today of 162.7 million dollars.

Pollock’s No. 5 is one of the first of his famous drip paintings, where he would place the canvas on the ground and drip the paint over it by swaying above the canvas. The subconscious physical movements involved in this technique became an important element of Abstract Expressionism.


1. Paul Cézanne’s The Card Players, 1892/93
$269.4 million

Paul Cézanne The Card Players, 1892/93

The State of Qatar purchased this painting in April 2011 from George Embiricos for around $259 million, which would be the equivalent today of 269.4 million dollars.

This painting by Cezanne is the first in a series of five paintings depicting peasants playing cards. Cezanne is said to have used local farmers as models in these works. The other paintings in the series can be found in the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, the Musee D’Orsay, the Courtauld Institute and the Barnes Foundation.

This list is ordered by consumer price index inflation-adjusted value in millions of September 2013 United States dollars. Where necessary, the price is first converted to dollars using the exchange rate at the time the painting was sold.



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