The Top Ten Most Expensive Paintings Sold At Auction In 2023

Photo Courtesy Sotheby's

In a display of artistic and financial might, 2023 proved a landmark year for the art market as masterpieces fetched astronomical prices on the auction block. From the blue-chip Monet to the visionary style of Jean-Michel Basquiat, the top ten most expensive works sold at auction tell a tale of remarkable narratives, cultural significance, and unprecedented monetary value. The pinnacle of artistic achievement and financial acumen, these sales, illuminated in the following list, stand as a testament to the enduring allure and investment potential of the world’s most coveted artworks.


Pablo Picasso, Femme à la montre, 1932 Photo Courtesy Sotheby’s

Pablo Picasso’s “Femme à la montre” (1932) Breaks Auction Records Sold for: $139 million In a momentous evening at Sotheby’s New York this November, Picasso’s timeless masterpiece from 1932, part of the late Emily Fisher Landau’s collection, achieved a staggering $139 million. This sale now ranks as the second-highest ever for a Picasso at auction.

Gustav Klimt, Dame mit Fächer (Lady with a Fan), 1917.
Gustav Klimt, Dame mit Fächer (Lady with a Fan), 1917 Photo Wikipedia

Gustav Klimt’s “Dame mit Fächer” (Lady with a Fan, 1917) Shatters Estimates Sold for: $80 million The last known portrait by Gustav Klimt took center stage at Sotheby’s London, surpassing expectations with a hammer price of £74 million ($94.3 million) and totaling £85.3 million ($108 million) with fees. This landmark auction set a new European record for a painting’s estimated value.

Claude Monet, Le bassin aux nymphéas, 1919 Photo Courtesy Sotheby's
Claude Monet, Le bassin aux nymphéas, 1919 Photo Courtesy Sotheby’s

Claude Monet’s “Le bassin aux nymphéas” (1919) Makes Waves at Christie’s Sold for: $74 million Monet’s enchanting piece exceeded predictions at Christie’s New York in November, fetching an impressive $74 million—a testament to the enduring allure of Monet’s masterpieces.

Jean-Michel Basquiat's "El Gran Espectaculo" (The Nile, 1983)
Jean-Michel Basquiat’s “El Gran Espectaculo” (The Nile, 1983) Photo: Courtesy Christies

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s “El Gran Espectaculo” (The Nile, 1983) Commands $67 Million Sold for: $67 million Headlining Christie’s contemporary evening sale, Basquiat’s compelling triptych achieved a remarkable $67 million, offering a captivating blend of floating skulls and references to ancient mythology.

Gustav Klimt's "Insel im Attersee" (circa 1901–02)
Gustav Klimt Detail “Insel im Attersee” (circa 1901–02) Photo Courtesy Sotheby’s

Gustav Klimt’s “Insel im Attersee” (circa 1901–02) Navigates New Auction Waters Sold for: $53 million Once owned by Austrian modernism advocate Otto Kallir, this Klimt masterpiece secured $53 million at Sotheby’s New York, making its auction debut and underscoring the enduring demand for Klimt’s oeuvre.

Francis Bacon's "Figure in Movement" (1976)
Francis Bacon’s “Figure in Movement” (1976) Photo Courtesy Christie’s

Francis Bacon’s “Figure in Movement” (1976) Emerges After Five Decades Sold for: $52 million Returning to the public eye after decades in private hands, Bacon’s poignant “Figure in Movement” captivated bidders at Christie’s New York, achieving a noteworthy $52 million.

Richard Diebenkorn's "Recollections of a Visit to Leningrad" (1965)
Richard Diebenkorn’s “Recollections of a Visit to Leningrad” (1965) Photo: Sotheby’s

Richard Diebenkorn’s “Recollections of a Visit to Leningrad” (1965) Sets Record Sold for: $46.4 million At a Sotheby’s evening sale, Diebenkorn’s painting, reminiscent of his celebrated “Ocean Park” series, achieved a record $46.4 million, far exceeding its $25 million estimate.

Mark Rothko's "Untitled" (1955)
Mark Rothko’s “Untitled” (1955)

Mark Rothko’s “Untitled” (1955) Casts a Colorful Spell at Christie’s Sold for: $46.4 million Despite modestly surpassing its $45 million estimate, Rothko’s vibrant “Untitled” painting emerged as a standout lot during Christie’s November sales in New York.

Wassily Kandsinky's Murnau With Church II, 1910.Photo : Courtesy Sotheby's
Wassily Kandsinky’s Murnau With Church II, 1910. Photo: Courtesy Sotheby’s

Wassily Kandinsky’s “Murnau mit Kirche II” (1910) Finds Restitution Success Sold for: $44.8 million Achieving $44.8 million at Sotheby’s London, this early abstract work by Kandinsky found its way back to its original German-Jewish owners, marking a poignant moment in the art world.

Henri Rousseau, Les Flamants, 1910.
Henri Rousseau, Les Flamants, 1910. Photo: Courtesy Christie’s

Henri Rousseau’s “Les Flamants” (1910) Soars to Record Heights Sold for: $43.5 million Christie’s 20th-century evening sale in May witnessed the spectacular sale of Rousseau’s “Les Flamants” for $43.5 million, establishing a new record for the artist after three decades.

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