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Infographic: The Ten Most Expensive Pieces of Art Ever Sold

The cheapest comes in at $72.8 million. Zoinks.


Last week, a mysterious rich man paid $104.3 million for a six-foot tall sculpture by Alberto Giacometti, making it the most expensive piece of art ever sold. Following that news, GOOD and graphic-design firm Karlssonwilker created an infographic of the ten most expensive pieces of art of all time. (Full-size here.) (The title, Not-So-Starving Artists, is deceiving because it's hard to starve if you're all dead. The real lucre goes to Christie's and Sotheby's, the two major auction houses.)

Obviously, the graph is a schematic, but here's the actual works, if you're curious to learn more:

  1. Walking Man I by Alberto Giacommeti—$104.3 million
  2. Boy with a Pipe by Pablo Picasso—$104.1 million
  3. Dora Maar with Cat by Pablo Picasso—$95.2 million
  4. Adele Bloch Bauer II by Gustav Klimt—$88 million
  5. Triptych, 1976 by Francis Bacon—$86.3 million
  6. Portrait du Dr Gachet by Vincent van Gogh—$82.5 million
  7. Water Lily Pond by Claude Monet—$80.4 million
  8. Le Moulin de la Galette by Pierre-Auguste Renoir—$78.1 million
  9. Massacre of the Innocents by Peter Paul Rubens—$75.9 million
  10. White Center (Yellow, Pink, and Lavender on Rose) by Mark Rothko—$72.8 million

A couple notes about the list—If you adjusted for inflation, Portrait du Dr Gachet by Van Gogh would be the most expensive, at over $134 million in today's dollars. Meanwhile, the most meteoric appreciate would have to go to Francis Bacon, who died in 1992 and whose Triptych was painted in 1976—at the peak of his career. Meanwhile, what's always boggled our minds is that these prices don't even reflect what might be the most valuable piece of art in existence—Part of the reason these pieces command so much money is that there's very few important works by major artists that aren't owned by museums. If New York's Museum of Modern Art or Paris Louvre sold even one of their most prized paintings—-such as Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh or Leonardo's Mona Lisa—who knows what price they'd command.

[Via GOOD]

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    Your information is completely wrong. As of November 2, 2006 Jackson Pollock's No. 5 is the most expensive piece of art ever sold: 140 mil (154.2 adjusted).

    I would re-do your research and correct your article, especially because this article comes up as the first page on a google search.

  • Colin Doody

    Or you could argue its these price tags that keep artists painting, photographers snapping photos, and sculptures sculpting. Least we know some artists are actually eating, and well. Might not be the best example of trickle down economics, but the money is trickling at the very least.

  • John Ylod

    Now that you mentioned "starved", does anyone realize how many people can be fed with that money? What is the point to pay that huge amount of money for a piece of paper and some paint when people are starving to death in many poor countries?? Beats me! John Ylod