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Would You Spend Over $100 million For Artwork?

November 14, 2012

In case you were wondering, there are people out there who are willing to pay over $100 million for a work of art. The list of sales below shows all the sales of more than $100 million (in 2012 inflation adjust dollars) that have occurred (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most_expensive_paintings).

The first thing that you might notice about the list is that the earliest member of this list was painted in 1876. This problem reflects availability as much as anything else. Older art tends to be in museums and is not generally available for sale. On the other hand art that is held by a collector is more likely to be sold off by his or her estate when the person dies, leading to returns of great art to the market from time to time. At these prices one can only wonder what the Mona Lisa would sell for if by some chance it ended up on the market.

It is interesting that this list covers a period of only 87 years, from Renoir to Warhol. How much concepts of art changed in that short period! It is also ironic that Van Gogh, who never sold a painting in his life time, appears on this list no less than four times, one more than Picasso. Between them, almost half of the top 15 sales of all time were for paintings by Van Gogh or Picasso. So if you have a Picasso or Van Gogh in the attic and you need some extra money, you might consider selling it. One wonders how long it will be before a 21st century art work joins this list.

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