Saturday, September 6, 2008

Dream on! The World's 10 Most Costly Paintings

10. $78,100,000. Pierre-August Renoir – Le Moulin de la Galette. At the time of its sale in 1990, it was the second most expensive painting ever sold. This masterpiece even went to the same person that bought number one at the time, Daishowa Paper Manufacturing Co. chairman Ryoei Saito. Again, he wanted this one cremated with him as well, but his companies ran into financial problems and it had to be sold on as collateral.

9. $80,000,000. Jasper Johns – False Start. Another painting formerly owned by Geffen and allegedly sold to CEO of the Citadel Investment Group, Kenneth C. Griffin, making it the most expensive painting to be sold by a living artist, the iconic Jasper Johns.

8. $82,500,000. Vincent van Gogh – Portrait of Dr. Gachet. Up for auction in 1990 and purchased by Japanese businessman Ryoei Saito, this was – at the time- the most expensive painting in the world. Saito (then 75) caused controversy at the time, stating that when he died, he’d have the painting cremated along with him. This was later cleared up as he claimed that he was only using the expression to show his intense affection for it.

7. $86,300,000. Francis Bacon – Triptych, 1976. Breaking the previous sale record of his work ($52.68 million), Bacon’s 3-piece masterpiece was sold to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, smashing the previous estimate of $70 million.

6. $87,900,000. Gustav Klimt – Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II. The only model to be painted twice by Klimt and sold a few months after the first version, this portrait of Bloch-Bauer was part of a lot in 2006 of four Klimt paintings that went on to fetch a total of $192 million. Buyer unknown.

5. $95,200,000. Pablo Picasso – Dora Maar au Chat. Another Picasso, the second highest price ever fetched at auction, and another anonymous buyer. Auctioned in 2006, a mysterious Russian bidder took this home (along with a Monet and a Chagall, spending over $100 million) and no one has since found out who he was. The ownership of the painting has still not been made public.

4. $104,200,000. Pablo Picasso – Garçon à la pipe. So far the highest price a painting has ever fetched at auction (as the others were all sold privately), and was the first painting to break the $100 million barrier (it was sold in 2004, whilst 1-3 were all in 2006). The strange thing is that it was never made public as to who expressed such an interest in Picasso’s portrait of a smoking Parisian.

3. $135,000,000. Gustav Klimt – Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I. This was sold by Maria Altmann, who – after a lengthy and complicated court battle – was deemed rightful owner of this Klimt and several others. Altmann was named as an inheritor of the painting in the will of by the widowed husband of the model herself, despite the efforts of the Austrian State, as Adele Bloch-Bauer had originally left the painting to the State Gallery in her own will. The painting was bought by Ronald Lauder for his Neue Galerie in New York, to be the centerpiece of a collection of Jewish-owned art rescued from the Nazi looting that took place in the Second World War.

2. $137,500,000. Willem de Kooning – Woman III. Another painting sold by Geffen in 2006, but this time bought by billionaire Steven A. Cohen. It is part of a series of 6 painted by de Kooning in the period of 1951-53, which revolved around the theme of a woman, and is allegedly the only Woman still in private hands.

1. $140,000,000. Jackson Pollock – No.5, 1948. It is claimed by the New York Times that this painting was sold by David Geffen (of Geffen Records), to David Martinez (managing partner of Fintech Advisory). However, a press release issued on behalf of Martinez states that he didn’t actually purchase the painting. So the truth is shrouded in mystery, and it can only be rumored to have sold for a record-breaking $140 million.

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