More than 40,000 years have passed since our distant ancestors first drew shapes on cave walls with berries, mud, and ash.
Since that time, artists have been producing paintings. In the modern world, art has evolved well beyond its early forms.
Even those with no background in art history may identify the pricey works of art by well-known artists like Vincent Van Gogh, Leonardo Da Vinci, Claude Monet, and Pablo Picasso.
Here are the top 5 most expensive paintings ever sold:
1. Salvator Mundi by Leonardo Da Vinci ($450 million)
In 2017 at a contemporary art event, Christie’s New York held an auction of the top challenger for the title of most expensive painting ever.
Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi was sold for $450 million after a protracted bidding battle that lasted 19 minutes.
A Saudi Arabian prince who represented the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture & Tourism won the auction and purchased the painting in New York.
For a long time, the painting of Jesus Christ holding an orb and making the sign of the cross was thought to be an imitation by the artist.
Then, in 2006, it underwent restoration, making Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpiece easier to behold.
As a result, it was given back to him and displayed for five years in the National Gallery in London.
After leaving the National Gallery, Salvator Mundi quickly surpassed other Leonardo Da Vinci works to become the most expensive painting ever purchased.
2. Interchange by Willem de Kooning (300 million)
This oil painting on canvas was done by Willem de Kooning in 1955. One of the most expensive paintings in the world would sell for an astounding $300 million sixty years later.
De Kooning was well-known for producing works like this abstract expressionist painting during the post-World War II era of art. He belonged to the New York School, another name for the abstract expressionist movement.
Following the conclusion of World War II, this form of art gained enormous popularity, and other well-known artists in this field include Lee Krasner, Hans Hofmann, Anne Ryan, Adolph Gottlieb, and Franz Kline.
Franz Kline persuaded de Kooning to substitute quick gestural motions for his frequently aggressive brushstrokes.
De Kooning was best known for painting women before Interchange, but he later switched to painting abstract metropolitan landscapes.
The most money ever spent for a painting in a private auction belongs to Interchange.
One of the most expensive artworks ever, the abstract oil painting smashed the previous mark.
Kenneth C. Griffin acquired the well-known oil painting for his personal collection from the David Geffen Foundation in 2015.
The Art Institute of Chicago is now borrowing one of the most valuable paintings in existence.
3. The Card Players by Paul Cézanne ($250 million)
In the 1890s, Paul Cézanne painted a number of well-known works that had variations on a same main theme.
These pieces of art featured various representations of men playing cards while seated at a table.
The post-impressionist style of Cézanne is well known, and this specific painting is an oil on canvas.
Overall, Cézanne painted five of these versions. Their size, themes, and settings vary.
The Royal Family of Qatar sold this instance of The Card Players in a private transaction for $250 million in 2011.
They allegedly paid twice the record auction price for ANY piece of art ever.
Up until Interchange broke the record, it was one of the most expensive paintings ever sold at the time.
4. Nafea Faa Ipoipo by Paul Gauguin ($229 million)
The English translation of this oil on canvas portrait is “When Will You Marry?” Paul Gauguin made it in 1891, well than a century ago.
The composition was inspired by Gaugin’s first journey to Tahiti in that year.
It is one of the artist’s many oil paintings of native Tahitian ladies on canvas.
Two young women are depicted in the picture sitting against a magnificent background of gold, blue, and green.
Although the buyer of this priceless painting has never been officially acknowledged, many people think the Qatari royal family made the purchase for $229 million.
5. Number 17A by Jackson Pollock ($200 million)
Liquid synthetic resin paints were used to make Pollock’s iconic 1948 masterpiece.
A spectacular illustration of Pollock’s drip painting technique is the yellow paint that is dripping over the canvas.
One year after the drip technique was made public, the piece was designed on fiberboard rather than oil on canvas with oil paint.
Its 1949 publication in Life Magazine aided Pollock’s career in its ascent.
Along with Interchange by Willem de Kooning, Kenneth C. Griffin invested $200 million in 2015 to add it to his private collection.
It is on loan to the AIC despite being one of the most costly paintings ever sold.