These Are the Artists With the Most Expensive Paintings Ever Sold

If you are into art as an investment, these are the big names to keep on your radar.

Portrait of Joseph Roulin by Vincent van Gogh
Photo: Fine Art / Contributor/Getty Images

While art, at its core, is a way for artists to express their creativity and imagination, it's not a secret that it can also be a very lucrative investment. Of course, that is, if you know what artists to invest in. According to Art In Context, Leonardo da Vinci is the artist who created the most expensive painting ever sold.

In 2016, Da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi" (1500) sold for an eye-popping $475 million at an auction at Christie's New York, setting an art-world record.

Willem De Kooning in his studio circa 1982 in the Hamptons.
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Dutch-American painter Willem de Kooning ranks second with his work "Interchange" (1955) which sold for around $300 million in 2015.

The Card Players
Heritage Images / Contributor/Getty Images.

And the third spot goes to Paul Cézanne whose "The Card Players"(1892) was privately sold in 2011 for $288 million.

Nafea Faa Ipoipo (When Will You Marry?) 1892
Heritage Images / Contributor/Getty Images

Paul Gauguin's "Nafea Faa Ipoipo?" (1892), with a price tag of around $229 million, and the $218 million "Number 17A" (1948) by Jackson Pollock round out the top five most expensive paintings sold.

Portrait of Joseph Roulin by Vincent van Gogh
Fine Art / Contributor/Getty Images.

Other artists on the list include Vincent Van Gogh, whose immersive exhibitions have been wildly popular in the U.S. and abroad. His most expensive works include "Portrait of Dr. Gachet" (1890) which was bought at an auction in 1990 for $82.5 million (around $163.4 million today); "Portrait of Joseph Roulin" (1889) which went for $125 million; and "Irises" (1889), sold for $122 million. Jackson Pollock, Pablo Picasso, and Gustav Klimt are also featured more than once in the roundup.

Andy Warhol also made headlines when his silkscreen of Marilyn Monroe’s face, “Shot Sage Blue Marilyn” (1964), sold for about $195 million to an unknown buyer at Christie’s in 2022. The sale beat out a Basquiat painting which went for $110.5 million at Sotheby’s in 2017, and became the highest-priced American work of art sold at auction. 

To explore the entire ranking of the most expensive paintings, head to

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