Top 10: World's Most Expensive Paintings

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2015-06-26 10:28:51

1) The Card Players by Paul Cézanne

The World Record price for a work of art was smashed in 2011, when the Quatari Royal Family purchased Paul Cézanne's masterpiece 'The Card Players' in a private sale reported to be worth $250 million.

The painting was formely owned by the Greek shipping tycoon George Embiricos, and it had remained virtually unseen in his private collection for years. Considered to be one of the world's finest paintings in private hands, Embiricos turned down a number of nine-figure offers before selling to the Quatari Royals in 2011.

The sale was rumoured but not confirmed, until both Vanity Fair and Forbes Magazine ran the story in early February 2012.

2) Le Reve by Pablo Picasso - $155 million

In 2013 'Le Reve' became the most expensive artwork ever purchased by a U.S collector, when it was bought in a private transaction by Steven Cohen. The renowned art collector bought it from casino owner Steve Wynn, who had famously damaged the painting by accidentally putting his elbow through it in 2006 - just days before Cohen was due to buy it for the first time.

The work underwent years of restoration, before finally being sold in March 2013 - with it's price tag also making it the world's most expensive Picasso artwork ever sold.

3) Three Studies of Lucian Freud by Francis Bacon - $142.4 million

In November 2013 Francis Bacon's three-part portrait of his close friend and rival Lucien Freud became the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction, selling at Christie's New York for $142,405,000.

The three parts of this triptych, painted in 1969, were separated for around 15 years before being reunited by a collector based in Rome in 1999.

4) No. 5 by Jackson Pollock - $140 million

In 2006 No. 5 became the most expensive painting ever sold when it was sold by US media magnate David Geffen for around $140 million, though the exact sale price is not known.

Details of the sale are unknown but the deal is said to have been brokered by Sotheby’s auctioneer Tobias Meyer. It is thought that the buyer was Mexican financer David Martinez, a managing partner at Fintech Advisory Limited, however Martinez’s law firm announced that he was not the owner of the painting.

The alleged sale is still shrouded in mystery but it is widely accepted that No. 5 by Jackson Pollock is currently the second most expensive painting ever sold.

5) Woman III by Willem de Kooning - $137.5 million

This painting was also owned by David Geffen, who sold it to billionaire Steven A. Cohen for $137.5 million in November 2006.

Geffen acquired the painting in 1994 from a Tehran museum in a quiet trade with the help of Doris Ammann, a Zurich dealer, on the tarmac of Vienna airport. Thomas Ammann Fine Art traded the painting.

Prior to Geffen’s airport deal, the painting was in the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art collection. It was there from the 1970s to 1994, but could not be shown after the 1979 Islamic Revolution because of strict rules set by the government about the visual arts and what they depict.

6) Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I by Gustav Klimt - $135 million

Completed in 1907, this painting’s subject, Adele Bloch-Bauer, is the only woman Klimt painted more than once.

According to press reports it was sold for $135 million to Ronald Lauder for his Neue Galerie in New York City in June 2006, making it the most expensive painting in the world at the time.

The painting has been on display at the Neue Galerie since 2006.

7) The Scream by Edvard Munch - $119.92 million

Edvard Munch's modernist masterpiece was inspired by his own poem which described the "great scream in nature" - echoing his feelings of anxiety as the 20th century approached.

Of the four versions of the iconic image created by Munch, the final example to remain in private hands was sold in May 2012 by Sotheby's for a World record price of $119.92 million - making it the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction.

8) Flag by Jasper Johns - $110 million

The 1954 painting 'Flag' by Jasper Johns is one of several by the artist based on the American Stars and Stripes national flag.

In March 2010 the painting was sold by the Italian-American art dealer Leo Castelli to the renowned billionaire art Steven A. Cohen, in a private sale worth an estimated $110 million.

9) Nude, Green Leaves and Bust by Pablo Picasso - $106.5 million

This painting, which was held in the personal collection of Los Angeles art collectors Sidney and Frances Brody for nearly six decades, was sold by $106.5 million by Christie’s in 2010.

Nude, Green Leaves and Bust is one of a series of Picasso portraits of his mistress and muse, Marie-Thérèse Walter.

10) Garcon a la Pipe by Pablo Picasso - $104.1 million

In 1950, Garcon a la Pipe was bought by John Witney, a former US ambassador to Britain for $30,000.

In 2004, the painting was sold at auction by Sotheby’s, New York for $104.1 million, making it the most expensive painting at that time.

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