A record breaking year for art sales in 2017! Last year, all high expectations were more than achieved with the paintings sold. If you haven't already heard (which would surprise us) the most expensive painting ever sold in history occurred this November at Christie's art auction; a smashing $450 million for a da Vinci!
Blowing all other sales out of the park, this sale makes others look small in comparison. However, 2017 was a year of incredible sales on top of the da Vinci.
As the year comes to an end, we thought it would be fun to recap on 2017 with the Top 10 most expensive paintings sold, much like we did last year!
(Feature Photo Credit: CBS)
$36.9 million, sold via Christie’s New York on November 13th, 2017
Painted in 1954, the portrait of Jacqueline, Picassos’ lover, was hung for many years in his private collection; rarely being seen to the public eye. Jacqueline was married to Picasso from 1961, until his death in 1973. She appeared in more of his works than any other woman before her, and this painting was regarded by Picasso as one of his greatest masterpieces. He completed a total of 3 portraits of Jacqueline the day he created this piece, a very productive day! This piece was sold to an unknown buyer, and had previously never been sold at auction before.
$46.5 million, sold via Christie’s New York on November 15th, 2017
Photo source: Christie's
Christie’s was marketing it as “the largest work in Cy Twomby’s legendary Bacchus series;” Cy Twomby’s “Untitled” is one of 20 in the series that was painted in the second set in 2005. The piece is 10 feet high and 16 feet wide, and was executed using a pole with a brush attached to it. Bacchus was the Roman god of agriculture, wine and fertility – and came up several times in Twombly’s work over the years. The imagery used in the painting is said to represent dropping wine or blood. This painting was sold to an anonymous telephone bidder, the estimated price was $40 million.
$51.8 million, sold via Christie’s New York on May 17th, 2017
Photo source: Christie's
Three Studies of a Portrait of George Dyer is a rare triptych, and was expecting to go for $35-45 million. George Dyer was a significant person in Bacon’s career. Appearing in over 40 paintings, many of the works including the subject, radiate passion, energy, and an impressive presence – Three Studies of a Portrait of George Dyer is no exception. Dyer impacted Bacon’s work in many ways, even after his death. Their meeting was a popular story – with Dyer breaking into Bacon’s studio, attempting to steal his works. From this moment on, their relationship consisted of infatuation and love. They both played a big role in each other’s life until Dyer died from an overdose in 1971. Francis Bacon’s paintings that include Dyer are known to be the most intimate and intensely personal works of art of the 20th century.
$59.3 million, sold via Sotheby’s London, on March 1st, 2017
Photo source: Sotheby's
Advertised by Sotheby’s as “one of the greatest works by the artist ever to appear at auction,” “Bauerngarten” was the third most expensive artwork ever sold at auction in Europe. The painting had been bought by Sotheby’s from its owner, a Canadian collector, before it was fought over by four telephone bidders at the auction. The work was purchased by a German-speaking telephone buyer, although their identity has yet to be revealed. Bauerngarten is a beautifully colourful Viennese masterpiece, inspired by a rustic garden of the Mayr-Hof, outside of Vienna. Renowned since its first exhibit in Vienna in 1908, this work of art is still viewed as one of the artist’s finest landscapes.
$63.3 million, sold via Christie’s New York on November 15th, 2017
This work, inspired by The Last Supper by Da Vinci, was part of a project that was the last of Warhol’s life. Following his sudden death, a month after the exhibition opened, this art event spun into a mass-media display. The Sixty Last Suppers was the biggest of the collection and makes the reproductions included in the work look like building with identical units, instead of the work of da Vinci. Sixty Last Suppers buyer has not been revealed. But it was sold from the estate of Andy Warhol and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.
Contraste de forms belongs to a collection of paintings that advanced Léger beyond Cubism, and into the contemporary art world. Leger was a French painter during the 1800s, and has been regarded as the trailblazer of pop art. The collection, as with much of Léger’s art, has an emphasis on primary colours, round abstract forms, and has come to be regarded as “Tubism”. Most of the paintings in these series live in major institutions today. This painting was sold from the property of Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation – and the sale of this painting was to go towards the foundations’ philanthropic purposes.
$81.3 million, sold via Christie’s New York, on November 13th, 2017
Photo source: YouTube
Laboureur dans un champ was reportedly painted during the artist’s stay at the Saint-Paul asylum in Saint-Remy, France. It is said to be one of the first paintings Van Gogh created following his doctor’s orders to stay away from his work until he was recovered. Vincent wrote to his brother about his struggle and the unbearable months without his work to distract him. This painting is one of many that reflect Van Gogh’s view from the asylum. He painted about 13 pieces of this setting, all with very similar elements, farm houses, fields and hills. This painting was sold by the estate of billionaire couple, Nancy Lee Bass and Perry R. Bass. It was estimated to sell for $50 million, therefore selling quite above the estimated price.
$110.5 million, sold via Sotheby’s New York, on May 18th, 2017
Photo Source: Yusaku Maezawa’s Twitter
$165 million, sold by Agnes Gund in January 2017
Photo source: Bloomberg
A classic Leichtenstein painting, “Masterpiece” features his classic Ben-Day dots and a speech balloon. It is known for the narrative in the speech bubble that is foreshadowing his fame: “Why Brad darling, this painting is a masterpiece! My, soon you’ll have all of New York clamoring for your work” – a tongue in cheek joke that reflects upon his career as an artist. It was part of Lichenstein’s first exhibition at Ferus Gallery in LA.
He often used the name Brad in his other works, and stated that he thought it sounded heroic and cliché. Following Agnus Gunds, sale of the art work in January, it was revealed that a hedge fund billionaire, Steve Cohen, purchased the work. The money from the sale was used to start a fund for criminal justice reform, as Agnus Gunds is a known philanthropist. This masterpiece also falls under the top 20 paintings ever sold!
$450.3 million, sold via Christie’s New York on November 13th, 2017
Known as “The Last da Vinci,” this painting is one of 16 paintings by Leonardo that is still in existence today, and the last known work still in a private collection. This sale smashed the record for the most expensive piece of art ever sold – making history. The last remaining record was held at $300 million, privately sold. Before the sale, art appreciators from around the world lined up for viewings held in Hong Kong, London, San Francisco, and New York, to catch a glimpse at the rediscovered da Vinci painting. The bidding for this painting went on for 20 minutes – jumping by 20, then 30 million each bid. The buyer has now been revealed to be Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Meanwhile, the art community still recovers from shock. Such a bidding war has art buyers wringing their hands over the future economics of art dealings. Forecasting has put the first $1 billion painting to be sold in 2030 with the current trendline! We will just have to wait and see what takes place next year.
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