Posted in Art

10 Most Expensive Paintings Ever Sold in History

Outrageous – that’s the adjective I can come up with whenever I hear people buying paintings worth millions of dollars. But, it is just my initial reaction. I know that works of art can last forever if cared properly, much like jewelry. Paintings are good investments actually. They elevate the feel of a room. They are good conversation starters with sophisticated house guests. But, some are just too expensive, making this type of trade crazy.

Check out 10 of the most expensive paintings ever sold in the world based on the current prices, not the original ones:

10. “Woman III” (Willem de Kooning)

Willem de Kooning is a painter of abstract expressionism. “Woman III” is included in de Kooning’s series of paintings from 1951 to 1953. To be specific, this painting was finished in 1953. It spans 68 by 48 ½ inches.

Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art previously included this painting in its collection, specifically from the 1970s to the 1990s. However, after the 1979 revolution, the government prohibited exhibiting this artwork because of its claims about the bad effects of visual arts.

In 1994, Thomas Ammann Fine Art discreetly traded the painting with businessman David Geffen. Ammann preferred to have the rest of a Persian manuscript called the Tahmasbi Shahnameh which can be traced back to the 16th century. In 2006, Geffen successfully sold the painting to the billionaire Steven A. Cohen for the price of $137.5 million.

Steven A. Cohen

9. “No. 5, 1948” (Jackson Pollock)

Jackson Pollock is another painter who made a name for himself through abstract expressionism. “No. 5, 1948” remained as one of his most powerful and expensive paintings despite several changes he made. Once again, Cohen is the one who purchased this painting worth $140 million.

Steven A. Cohen

8. “Nu Couché” (Amedeo Modigliani)

The eighth most expensive painting is an erotic one from Italian painter Amedeo Modigliani. “Nu Couché” means “Red Nude” or “Reclining Nude.” It is an oil painting on canvas which was completed in 1917. It was sold for $170 million to another wealthy businessman Liu Yiqian during an art sale at Christie’s New York.

This artwork is included in the infamous series of nude paintings by Modigliani. The Italian artist only had one art exhibition in his whole lifetime. In 1917, his show was being held at the Galerie Berthe Weill when the police suddenly raided the event and stopped it. Christie’s noted during the painting’s sale last November 2015 that Modigliani just wanted to express that nudity is just part of modern art.

Liu Yiqian

7. “Les Femmes d’Alger” (Pablo Picasso)

Also known as “Women of Algiers,” “Les Femmes d’Alger” is a collection of 15 artworks from the iconic Spanish painter Pablo Picasso. Picasso is so popular until this generation that his name is already associated with cubism. “The Women of Algiers in their Apartment” by Eugène Delacroix is the inspiration of Picasso’s masterpiece.

First buyers of the whole series were Sally and Victor Ganz. In 1956, they bought it at the Galerie Louise Leiris located in Paris for the price of $212,500. Interestingly, they sold 10 of the series to the Saidenberg Gallery.

Since the series became individual paintings, the most expensive one is simply known as “Version O.” Christie’s New York auctioned this in 2015. The painting was purchased by the former prime minister of Qatar Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani for the price of $179.4 million.

Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani

6. “Pendant Portraits of Marten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit” (Rembrandt)

The famous Dutch painter commonly known as Rembrandt painted these two full-length portraits of the married couple Oopjen Coppit and Marten Soolmans. From the Rothschild family, both the Rijksmuseum and the Louvre Museum gained the rights for the paintings in 2015. Each museum paid half the price of €160 million.

Rijksmuseum/Louvre Museum

5. “No. 6 (Violet, Green and Red)” (Mark Rothko)

It is a wonder why many of the most expensive paintings follow abstract expressionism. Here’s another example from the Russian-American painter Mark Rothko. “No. 6 (Violet, Green and Red)” was completed in 1951. It is similar to other paintings of Rothko – different colors of big coverage that are connected together through shading. Dmitry Rybolovley purchased this painting for €140 million during an exclusive sale.

Dmitry Rybolovley

4. “Number 17A” (Jackson Pollock)

Another masterpiece from Pollock, “Number 17A” was purchased by Kenneth C. Griffin from the David Geffen Foundation in 2015. It was worth $200 million.

Kenneth C. Griffin

3. “The Card Players” (Paul Cézanne)

Paul Cézanne is a French artist promoting the Post-Impressionist movement in his paintings. His most popular work is a series called “The Card Players.” These five artworks are oil paintings created during the 1890s. They differ in size, setting and number of card players. One of the paintings belongs to the most expensive artworks in history because of the Royal Family of Qatar’s purchase in 2011. Its price is estimated to be at least $250 million and maximum of $300 million.

Royal Family of Qatar

2. “When Will You Marry?” (Paul Gauguin)

Translated from the Tahitian title “Nafea Faa Ipoipo,” “When Will You Marry?” is an 1892 oil painting by the another French Post-Impressionist painter Paul Gauguin. In 2015, Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad Al-Thani purchased this for $300 million from the Staechelin family.

In 1891, Gauguin visited Tahiti and got inspiration there for his most notable artworks. He painted local women dressed in traditional clothing or just plain nude. He also captured Tahitian women wearing Western dresses. Historically speaking, it was said that Gauguin painted the natives as people who only love to sing and have sex. It is speculated that Gauguin earned so much money and fame in his time because of that.

Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad Al-Thani

1. “Interchange” (Willem de Kooning)

So far, this abstract expressionism painting titled “Interchange” is the most expensive painting ever sold in the world. Once again, de Kooning managed to produce an expensive artwork. Finished in 1955, the painting measures 200.7 by 175.3 centimeters. For the second time, Griffin purchased this from the David Geffen Foundation in 2015 for $300 million.

Kenneth C. Griffin

Final Thoughts

Like you, I was pretty overwhelmed when I first learned the prices of these paintings. Not to mention the simplicity of the artworks yet the intense fascination it gave to the curators and the buyers. Actually, there are existing artworks even more expensive than these paintings. Those paintings are already priceless, meaning they cannot be sold privately. One of which is the “Mona Lisa.”

Posted in Museum

Gary Vikan and His Interesting Life as a Museum Director

Watching all three installments of Ben Stiller’s comedy film “Night at the Museum” makes me realize once again my childhood dream to work in a museum. I always have been curious about what kind of vibe the museum staff encounters every time they roam around the establishment. Are they getting scared sometimes? Is it always excitement and awe for them even if they go to the museum every day?

Good thing I found ExhibiTricks’s exclusive interview just last year with Gary Vikan, a longtime museum director or curator. Vikan served as curator for 28 years. How cool is that? Let’s find out what it’s like to work in a museum for almost three decades!

The Responsibilities of a Museum Director

First, we must understand the work of a museum director, who is also called a curator. Museum directors are responsible for the secured storage and procurement of archives, artifacts and artworks. They also facilitate exhibitions inside the museum. They purchase works of history and art, commonly through negotiations, to serve as the museum’s displays.

All about Gary Vikan

Check out Vikan’s personal and professional life inside and outside the museum through the years:

Background

In the later part of his career, Vikan was the director of Baltimore’s Walters Art Museum since 1994. He ended his work there by 2013. Before getting the director position, he was the assistant director for the same museum’s Curatorial Affairs starting 1985.

When it comes to Vikan’s university life before entering the world of museums, he was the senior associate of Harvard’s Center for Byzantine Studies. That time, he lived in Dumbarton Oaks, Washington D.C., not in Baltimore. Vikan achieved his BA in Carleton College. Years later, he accomplished his Ph. D. in Princeton University. Lastly, he was a graduate of the National Arts Strategies Chief Executive Program and the Harvard Program for Art Museum Directors.

Motivation to Work in Museums

What exactly motivated Vikan to pursue a career in a museum? The curator wanted to share the effect art has on him to other people. When he was a scholar in Harvard’s Center for Byzantine Studies, he was busy teaching people in the Smithsonian Residents’ Association Program. He aimed to relate with people and use his scholarship for the greater good. In order to connect with a huge group of people, he used his love for art as an inspiration.

Most Favorite Exhibitions

Vikan has two most favorite exhibitions, which are too different from each other when it comes to the subject in focus. His first favorite happened 25 years ago which was called “Holy Image, Holy Space: Icons and Frescoes from Greece.” That exhibition was his first most successful event because of the effect it gave to the visitors. Vikan could still remember seeing kiss marks on the Plexiglass of the icons. For him, it was a holy moment.

On the other hand, “Beauty and the Brain” is Vikan’s other favorite exhibition. It happened a few years ago. It was just a simple event, but it remained as Vikan’s one of the most beloved. The exhibition became successful because of its collaboration with one of Johns Hopkins’ neuroscientists. Vikan loved it so much because of how interactive it was. The visitors get to pick their favorite shape among the multitude of shapes with subtle differences. Vikan explained that the visitors eventually realized that they are “hard wired” to connect with specific shapes.

Latest Achievement

Vikan managed to publish his controversial book titled “Sacred and Stolen: Confessions of a Museum Director” last year. He aimed to share to the public the darker side of museums because he knew that he lived to tell stories. He had stories that he could not express as a director. Now that he is retired, he is already free to write any book about these stories. He believed that people deserve to know everything about the strange things happening in art museums.

Final Thoughts

Museums are essential to preserve art and history. Without them, humans would have less connection with their forefathers. Museums hold the heart and soul of mankind.