Art Market Insights 2023: Auction Trends, Collector Spending Habits, and 2024 Outlook

This is a concise overview that captures the key findings from the Art Basel and UBS Survey of Global Collecting in 2023.

Key Findings:

  1. Auction Sector Trends:
  • H1 2023 witnessed a 16% decline in aggregate sales at major auction houses.
  • Despite the dip, it exceeded the first half of 2019, accounting for 84% of 2022’s record values.

2. Global Art Trade:

  • In 2022, art and antiques imports peaked at $30.7 billion, and exports reached the second-highest at $33.4 billion.
  • Despite a global decline in Q1 2023, key hubs like Hong Kong, the UK, and the US experienced double-digit increases in art inflows.

3. HNW Collector Spending:

  • Median spending on art by HNW collectors hit $65,000 in 2022, rising by 19% from 2021.
  • Mainland Chinese collectors saw a robust return to spending, reporting the highest median expenditure in H1 2023 at $241,000.

4. Art Medium Preferences:

  • Majority of spending in 2023 focused on paintings (58%), with digital art representing only 3% of HNW collectors’ total expenditure.
  • Gen X collectors surpassed millennials in spending on paintings, while Gen Z showed a preference for prints and digital art.

5. Gender Representation:

  • Works by female artists constituted 39% of collections in 2023, with collectors spending over $10 million annually showing an increased share (55%).
  • The overall ratio of spending on works priced over $1 million declined, indicating potential buyer caution.

6. Wealth Portfolio Allocation:

  • The average allocation to art in HNW collectors’ portfolios dropped to 19% in 2023 from the peak of 24% in 2022.
  • The allocation increased with collector wealth, ranging from 15% for those under $5 million to almost 30% for UHNW collectors.

7. HNW Collector Buying Channels:

  • In-person buying continued to rise in 2023, with 86% purchasing from a dealer and 58% making art fair acquisitions.
  • Dealer and art fair spending increased, with auctions remaining a significant channel for three-quarters of respondents.

8. Collector Motivations and Outlook:

  • Self-focused motivations ranked highest at 37%, followed by financial motivations at 28%.
  • 54% of HNW collectors planned to buy art in 2024, with paintings being the preferred choice, and 26% intended to sell, anticipating future price improvements.

Navigating the Canvas: Opportunities and Challenges in Art Investment

Embarking on the realm of art investment has always fascinated individuals, presenting an alluring yet intricate venture filled with both unique opportunities and formidable challenges. The proven success of top-tier artists undoubtedly solidifies the financial value of art. However, stepping into this domain requires thoughtful consideration of various factors, especially in the current era of economic uncertainty, where high net worth individuals (HNWIs) increasingly seek refuge in alternative investments like art and collectibles.

Inherent in art investment is the challenge of subjectivity in valuing artistic creations. The process involves a complex interplay of factors, including the artist’s reputation, prevailing market trends, the artwork’s condition, provenance, and subjective aesthetic appeal. This complexity can lead to intricate scenarios, such as estate auctions where financials are subsequently distributed among heirs.

Adding to the complexity is the inherent lack of liquidity in the art market. Diverging from the swift convertibility of stocks or bonds, art is often illiquid, making its rapid transformation into cash a challenging task. The selling process can be prolonged, and securing the right buyer at an optimal price becomes particularly daunting during economic downturns or urgent sale situations.

The challenges extend to authenticity and provenance within the art investment landscape. Establishing the genuineness and historical lineage of artworks can be a painstaking process, with disputes over these aspects significantly impacting an artwork’s value and marketability. Conducting thorough due diligence becomes imperative, albeit entailing a time-consuming and costly endeavor.

Furthermore, art investment comes with its share of financial burdens, encompassing expenses related to purchasing, storing, insuring, and selling art, especially for valuable pieces. Transaction fees and commissions within the art market can further diminish investment returns. Additionally, local regulations and the absence of dividends or annual returns, akin to gold investments, introduce additional layers of complexity to the art investment equation.

Art markets are renowned for their volatility, susceptible to shifts in trends, tastes, and economic conditions. While the values of artworks may fluctuate significantly over time, established artists tend to exhibit more stable trajectories, necessitating that investors stay well-informed and adapt to dynamic market conditions.

However, despite these formidable challenges, art investment remains an arena rich with opportunities. Successful investments have the potential to yield substantial returns, with certain artworks appreciating significantly over time, even outperforming traditional assets like stocks or bonds.

Moreover, art serves as a powerful diversification tool within investment portfolios, acting as a hedge against market volatility and inflation. Its value often operates independently of traditional financial markets, providing potential stability during market downturns.

Beyond its financial facets, art stands as a tangible and aesthetically enriching asset. Unlike stocks or bonds, art can be displayed and appreciated for its intrinsic value beyond mere monetary worth. The global nature of the art market further grants investors access to a diverse array of artworks and artists from various cultures and regions.

Investing in art not only contributes financially but also plays a vital role in supporting emerging artists and culturally enriching society by potentially discovering undervalued talents.

The evolving landscape of the art market is witnessing increased interest and involvement from the financial industry. Services such as art advisory, art lending, and art investment services are becoming more prevalent, contributing to a greater level of transparency through research in finance and economics, enhanced data dissemination, and advanced database services. Consequently, art as an asset is gradually becoming more normalized and understood by a broader audience.

Navigating the art investment world requires thorough research, understanding market dynamics, and seeking expert advice. Investors must carefully evaluate their risk tolerance, investment goals, and potential challenges before making informed decisions.

Art investment is a journey offering a distinctive blend of opportunities and challenges. While it promises to be a captivating and potentially profitable endeavor, it demands a profound understanding of the art market, meticulous research, and careful consideration of individual circumstances. Venturing into the world of art investment not only unlocks new avenues for growth and diversification but also offers a cultural enrichment that should be savored and enjoyed.

The Enigma of Private Art Collections: Exploring the Most Valuable Paintings Held Beyond Museum Walls

Not all masterpieces of art find their place in the grand museums of the world; some are cherished by private art collectors. In recent decades, the practice of private art collection has witnessed a significant surge, leading to a considerable surge in the prices of works by renowned artists. This list seeks to highlight the most valuable paintings still held in private hands, providing estimated prices justified by factors such as provenance and sale history.


The objective of this list is to spotlight paintings that could realistically enter the market in the future, acknowledging that not all “private collections” may end up on the art market. An illustrative example is the Royal Collection owned by the Queen of England, where it is believed that most works are personally owned by the monarch. However, the likelihood of the Queen selling these masterpieces, especially on the open market, seems implausible, and therefore, works from this collection are not included in the following list.

Private vs. public museums:

While “privately owned” is often perceived as the opposite of “museum-owned,” it’s essential to note that many American museums and some European institutions are private entities that could potentially sell artworks. Deaccessioning, or the sale of artworks, does occur in these museums, though major institutions like the Met or MoMA have strict conditions for such actions. In Europe, the situation is complex, with notable sales by family museums but an overall reluctance to sell valuable works by private museums like the Fondation Beyeler.

Open market vs. restricted market:

The value of a painting is significantly influenced by the country where it is housed, considering export limitations imposed by some territories. Various countries impose restrictions on the export of artworks, particularly old masterpieces and ancient art. This list includes paintings with hypothetical open-market values, even if their sale to a foreign buyer is practically impossible due to export restrictions, such as Caravaggio’s “The Conversion of St Paul” from the Odescalchi Balbi collection in Rome or Brueghel’s “Haymaking” from the Lobkowicz collection in Prague.

Note: Paintings belonging to the Doria Pamphili Collection in Rome are not included in this list, as the Trust has expressed opposition to selling the most important works, including those by Velázquez, Raphael, and Caravaggio, each potentially exceeding $200 million on the open market.

Here is a compilation of the 50 most expensive masterpieces in private collections, along with their estimated values in US Dollars, click to view.


Oil on canvas, measuring 97 × 130 cm. Held in a private collection located in Qatar.

Cézanne’s series of “The Card Players,” alongside his “Bathers” and panoramic views of Mount Sainte-Victoire, is regarded as his magnum opus. In this deceptively simple composition, Cézanne amplifies volumes while diffusing perspective, creating a “proto-Cubist” effect. This particular rendition represents the final installment of the series and is currently housed in a private collection.

Regarding its estimated value: In contrast to artists like Picasso or Van Gogh, Cézanne’s major works rarely surface on the art market. “The Card Players” is widely acknowledged as the most significant Cézanne painting in private ownership. It was purportedly acquired by Qatar for a staggering $250 million in 2011. Multiple dealers reportedly made offers exceeding $200 million, all of which were declined, providing insight into the painting’s considerable value.

“The Jan Six Portrait: Rembrandt’s Masterpiece and the Enigma of Its Market Value”

The Portrait of Jan Six not only stands as Rembrandt’s most significant work in private possession but also ranks among the finest portraits, if not the very finest, of the Dutch Golden Age. In the 1650s, Rembrandt underwent a stylistic transformation, departing from the prevailing meticulousness in Dutch painting and embracing free, loose brushstrokes. This shift resulted in some of his most exceptional works, including “Aristotle with the Bust of Homer” (1653), “Bathsheba in her Bath” (1654), and the iconic “Portrait of Jan Six.” This latter piece is an intense, magnetic portrait, embodying a fully modern conception and execution marked by audacity and mastery.

Regarding the estimated value, it’s essential to acknowledge that when a significant Rembrandt enters the market, it creates an enormous impact. In 2015, the Louvre and the Rijksmuseum jointly acquired the pendant portraits of Maerten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit for around $200 million. The same price was paid in December 2021 for Rembrandt’s “The Standard Bearer,” acquired by the Dutch State. However, even these notable acquisitions are deemed incomparable to the Jan Six Portrait, valued by art dealer Otto Naumann at “in excess of $150 million” circa 2002-2003, a period when no artwork had breached the $100 million mark. To find a comparable reference, one must harken back to 1961 when the Metropolitan Museum acquired “Aristotle with a Bust of Homer” for $2.3 million, then the highest price ever paid for a work of art. Yet, it could be ventured that even the Metropolitan Museum’s esteemed “Aristotle” pales in comparison to the Jan Six Portrait, described by Hofstede de Groot as “the finest and most expressive” of Rembrandt’s best portraits.

Note: The open market valuation of the Jan Six Portrait comes with a note of complexity. Following the controversy surrounding the 2019 sale of a Rubens drawing owned by Princess Christina, the Dutch government established a committee to devise strategies ensuring that major works of art in the Netherlands could remain in the country. However, the potential impact of this on a hypothetical sale of the Jan Six Portrait remains unclear.

Oil on canvas, measuring 68 x 57 cm. Presently held in a private collection with an undisclosed location.

The “Portrait of Doctor Gachet,” boasting two versions, with this one being the superior and more renowned of the pair, stands as perhaps the finest portrait ever crafted by Van Gogh. According to Guillermo Solana, director of the Thyssen Museum, it ranks among the “12 most important portraits in Western art.” The tale of this famous and brilliant artwork encapsulates the “Japanese buyer boom” of the late 80s and early 90s. Unfortunately, the current whereabouts of the painting are unknown, with some sources suggesting it resides in Europe, awaiting its return to the art market.

Regarding its estimated value: Originally sold for a groundbreaking $82.5 million in 1990, setting an auction record for any work of art at the time. It was subsequently resold in the late 90s for an undisclosed amount (some sources claim $90 million in 1997) to an anonymous private collector. There are indications that it may have been resold for approximately $100 million some years later.

An iconic masterpiece by a legendary artist, this painting encompasses all the elements of a true gem. It possesses the potential to be the focal point of a significant modern art museum, with only minor doubts about its provenance during the WWII era preventing it from claiming the top spot in this list.

Oil on cypress wood, measuring 237 x 189 cm. Currently housed in the Odescalchi Balbi Collection in Rome.

This artwork represents one of two paintings by Caravaggio portraying the same subject, both commissioned by Cardinal Cerasi. Crafted in 1600, the same year Caravaggio completed his acclaimed masterpiece, “The Calling of Saint Matthew,” this large painting stands as an impressive testament to the artist’s skill and vision. It holds a distinguished place among Caravaggio’s most significant works.

Regarding its estimated value: Caravaggio’s works seldom surface on the market, with suggested prices reaching as high as $100 million for less significant pieces by the artist. In 2019, a “Judith and Holofernes” with a contested attribution was offered at auction with an estimated price of approximately 170 million euros and was sold privately before the auction for an undisclosed sum. Unlike those instances, this painting is deemed a supreme masterpiece and marks the final monumental work by Caravaggio in private ownership.

Note: The open market valuation is subject to Italian export restrictions, preventing the painting from being sold to a foreign buyer.

Oil on wood, measuring 65.6 x 45.4 cm. Held in a private collection.

Leonardo da Vinci is known to have painted a “Salvator Mundi” for King Louis XII of France. Long considered lost by art experts, one of its purported “copies” was acquired by a consortium of art dealers in 2005 and subsequently reattributed (though not unanimously) to Leonardo. In late 2011, this work was featured in the exhibition “Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan” at the National Gallery in London. In November 2017, “Salvator Mundi” achieved a staggering sale price of $450.3 million (including buyer’s premium) at Christie’s New York, setting a record as the most expensive painting ever sold at auction. This remarkable price underscores the extreme rarity of paintings by Leonardo da Vinci, with fewer than 20 acknowledged as genuine works from the artist, and all the undisputed pieces residing in museum collections.

Regarding its estimated value: The willingness of collectors to pay a substantial sum for a painting with a disputed attribution is evident in the $450 million achieved at Christie’s in November 2017. This sale price was particularly surprising not only because the work had been on the market shortly before with a much lower price tag (allegedly asking for $200 million and eventually sold for “over $75 million” to Yves Bouvier in 2012, who then sold it to Dmitry Rybolovlev for $127.5 million), but also due to the skepticism of many reputable experts who remain unconvinced about its attribution. Between 2019 and 2021, conflicting reports emerged about the Louvre Museum’s stance on the painting, either supporting the attribution or rejecting it. In a cautious stance, the Museo del Prado included the “Salvator Mundi” in the category of “works attributed to or supervised by Da Vinci” during the exhibition “Leonardo and the copy of Mona Lisa” in 2021-2022, reflecting a fairly neutral position amid the ongoing debate.

Time and further technical studies will ultimately determine whether this artwork is truly an undisputed painting by the renowned artist or if it becomes the “Theranos” of the art world, revealing itself as the creation of a follower.

Oil on canvas, measuring 150 x 100 cm.
Part of the Goulandris Foundation collection in Athens.

Long concealed within the private holdings of Basil Goulandris, this Picasso artwork holds immense significance, directly tied to his masterpiece “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon,” acknowledged as the most pivotal painting of the 20th century.
Regarding its estimated value: Some sources have suggested that this noteworthy painting could be valued at $250 million. Such an estimate is not unwarranted, given the historical importance of Picasso’s work from 1906-07. While the Picassos sold for over $150 million (refer to separate entries) are typically later, more vibrant pieces, it’s crucial to note that a Picasso of this nature, reminiscent of “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon,” hasn’t appeared on the market in recent times. In essence, this painting stands as the closest counterpart to “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” in private ownership. As an indication of potential market response, consider the 2005 Sotheby’s auction of “Nu Jaune,” a small watercolor from 1907 that served as a preliminary study for “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.” It fetched $13.7 million against an initial estimate of $3-4 million.

Oil on canvas, measuring 60.5 x 50 cm. Housed in the Niarchos collection.

Vincent van Gogh’s collection of 32 self-portraits stands as some of the most instantly recognizable images in art history. Notably, the two self-portraits featuring a bandaged ear (including this one and another from the Courtauld Institute Galleries) are especially renowned, encapsulating one of the most discussed and, simultaneously, misunderstood moments in the artist’s life.

Regarding its estimated value: Acquired discreetly by the Niarchos family in the early ’90s or prior, the exact purchase price remains undisclosed. A smaller and less significant self-portrait by Van Gogh achieved a remarkable sale of $71.5 million in 1998, marking the third-highest price ever paid for a work of art at that time.

“Madonna of the Yarnwinder” (Buccleuch Madonna), c. 1499-1507 Oil on wood, measuring 48.3 x 36.9 cm. Held in the Buccleuch collection (currently on loan to the National Galleries of Scotland)

“Madonna of the Yarnwinder” (Lansdowne Madonna), c. 1499-1507 Oil on wood, measuring 50.2 x 34.6 cm. Part of a private collection in New York

A captivating debate surrounding the authenticity of a work by Leonardo da Vinci centers on the two versions of the original, purportedly lost, “Madonna dei fusi” or “Madonna of the Yarnwinder.” One version is housed in the Drumlanrig Castle collection in Scotland (stolen in 2003 and recovered in 2007), while the other was previously part of the Reford collection in Montreal, reportedly sold to an American private collector.

Regarding the estimated value: The debate around these two paintings differs from the discussions regarding the now-famous “Salvator Mundi,” with both versions of the “Madonna of the Yarnwinder” being well-known, especially the Buccleuch version. Although the attribution to Leonardo remains a subject of serious debate, critics generally agree, based on the intricate underdrawing in both paintings, that Leonardo had some level of involvement in their creation.


Oil on canvas, measuring 101.6 x 101.6 cm. Part of the Ken Griffin collection (formerly S. I. Newhouse Collection) Image © Andy Warhol / ARS New York

Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe portraits stand as some of the most iconic artworks in history. The “Shot Marilyns” consist of four square canvases, each 40 inches in size, photographed by performance artist Dorothy Podber (1932-2008) at the legendary “The Factory” in Manhattan. Among the four versions, “Orange Marilyn” is undoubtedly the most iconic.

Regarding the estimated value: In 1989, the “Red” canvas fetched $4.1 million. Nine years later, the “Orange” painting sold for $17.3 million. Another nine years down the line, the “Turquoise” canvas (the only one not shot by Dorothy Podber) reportedly sold for around $80 million. In 2018, rumors circulated that the Orange Marilyn changed hands for “over $200 million.” By 2022, one of the two blue versions (usually less appealing to the market) was auctioned for $195 million (including commissions).

Oil on canvas, measuring 138 x 138 cm. Part of the Ronald Lauder collection, currently on loan to Neue Galerie, New York.

Gustav Klimt’s portrait of “Adele Bloch-bauer I,” alongside the renowned “The Kiss,” represents the zenith of his “Golden Period.” Seized by the Nazis during World War II, the painting found its way to the National Gallery of Austria in 1948. In 2006, it was rightfully returned to Maria Altmann.

Regarding the estimated value: In 2006, this masterpiece was sold for $135 million, marking the highest price ever paid for a painting at that time. For perspective on its potential increased worth, consider that the second version of the portrait (of lesser significance than this one) fetched $88 million at Christie’s New York in 2006 and was later resold to a Chinese buyer for $150 million in 2016.

Oil on canvas, measuring 130 x 97 cm. Image: © Estate of Pablo Picasso/ARS Part of the Steven Cohen collection.

The alluring portraits of Marie-Thérèse Walter, painted by Picasso in the early 1930s, particularly during his remarkable “magic year” of 1932, stand out as some of the artist’s most recognized works. This painting showcases Picasso’s lover and muse seated in a red armchair with closed eyes. The soft hues of the young woman’s body create a striking contrast against the vibrant colors of the sofa and the background wall. Notably, Picasso introduces an explicitly erotic element atop her head, a feature often interpreted by contemporary critics as a distinctly sexist element.

Regarding the estimated value: The sales history of this painting is intriguing. Initially auctioned for $48.4 million in New York at the iconic 1997 Ganz auction, it nearly went for a private sale at $139 million in 2006, but the transaction was hindered by damage inflicted by its then-owner, Steve Wynn. Eventually, in 2013, mega-collector Steve Cohen acquired it for $155 million. Will its value continue to ascend? While subjective, the perception is that “The Dream” has gained unparalleled fame among Marie-Thérèse’s portraits, surpassing even “Girl before a Mirror” from MoMA. As the centerpiece of the Tate’s major exhibition, “Picasso 1932 – Love, Fame, Tragedy,” in 2018, its newfound iconic status is likely to contribute to further appreciation. Additionally, the significant revaluation of Picasso’s major works over the last two to three decades is evident when considering “The Women of Algiers,” auctioned for $31.9 million in 1997 and later sold for $179.4 million in 2015. A recent comparison is “Woman Seated near a Window (Marie-Thérèse),” another Picasso from 1932, auctioned for $103 million in 2021, following a $45 million sale in 2013.

Oil on canvas, measuring 243.8 x 121.9 cm. Image: © Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY Currently housed in a private collection in the USA, reportedly owned by David Martínez according to some sources.

This artwork by Pollock is renowned for its distinctive drips and belongs to his pinnacle period spanning 1947 to 1950. Before its sale in 2006, the painting was part of the collections of two globally acclaimed contemporary art enthusiasts: Samuel Irving Newhouse and David Geffen.

Regarding the estimated value: Acquired for a groundbreaking $140 million in a private sale in 2006, this transaction set a record as the highest price ever paid for a painting at that time. Although there were rumors suggesting Mexican businessman David Martínez as the buyer, he later denied the acquisition. Following the donation of “Lucifer” to Stanford, “Number 5, 1948” remains Pollock’s sole undisputed masterpiece in private hands, ensuring its perpetual desirability. To gauge the appreciation in the value of Pollock’s works since the last sale of this painting, consider “Number 16, 1949,” which fetched $32.6 million in 2013, surpassing the minimum price it failed to reach in 2007. In contrast, reflect on the $200 million spent by Ken Griffin on “Number 17A,” a comparatively less significant work than “Number 5, 1948” (refer to a separate entry).

Oil on canvas, measuring 171 x 121 cm. Image: © Succession Willem de Kooning / Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY Part of the Steve Cohen collection.

Between 1950 and 1953, after a period primarily focused on abstraction, Willem de Kooning produced a significant series of six expansive canvases exploring the female figure, widely regarded as his most crucial works. Originally housed in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tehran, this painting had to be sold following the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

Regarding the estimated value: Acquired for $137.5 million in a private sale in 2006, “Woman III” stands out as a key postwar painting, according to Sandy Heller, who advised Steve Cohen on the purchase. Heller even goes so far as to claim that it is “arguably the most important postwar painting that is not in a museum.” While this assertion may be debated (artists like Pollock and Bacon also have their contenders), the significance lies in “Woman III” being the sole piece from de Kooning’s “Women” series still residing in private hands. It surpasses even “Interchange,” which fetched an astonishing $300 million in a 2015 sale (refer to a separate entry).

Oil on canvas, measuring 171 x 121 cm. Image: © Succession Willem de Kooning / Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY Part of the Steve Cohen collection.

Between 1950 and 1953, following a period predominantly dedicated to abstraction, Willem de Kooning crafted a series of six expansive canvases examining the female figure, widely acclaimed as his most significant works. This particular painting was originally housed in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tehran until it had to be sold post the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

Concerning the estimated value: Acquired for $137.5 million in a private sale in 2006, “Woman III” is touted by Sandy Heller, an advisor to Steve Cohen during the purchase, as “arguably the most important postwar painting that is not in a museum.”2 While this assertion may be open to debate (artists like Pollock and Bacon also have contenders), the significance lies in “Woman III” being the only piece from de Kooning’s “Women” series still in a private collection. Hence, it can be deemed the artist’s most crucial work in private hands, surpassing even “Interchange” and its astounding $300 million sale in 2015 (refer to a separate entry).

Oil on canvas, measuring 101 x 77 cm. Part of a private collection located in Qatar.

“Nafea faa ipoipo?” stands as one of Paul Gauguin’s initial creations in Tahiti, notably featured on the cover of Ingo F. Walther’s biography on Gauguin. Previously under the ownership of the Rudolf Staechelin Family Trust, the painting enjoyed an extended loan period at the Kunstmuseum Basel.

Regarding its estimated value: In 2015, reports surfaced that the artwork had been sold to Qatar for $300 million1, potentially setting a record for any artwork during that period. However, in 2017, it was disclosed that the actual sale price was $210 million2, a more realistic valuation, particularly when compared to the sale of Cézanne’s “The Card Players” (refer to a separate entry).

Oil on canvas, measuring 114.6 x 192.5 cm. Currently part of the Duke of Wellington Collection, housed at Aspley House on deposit.

Historically dismissed as a mere copy, this painting underwent restoration in 2014 at the Museo del Prado, affirming its status as the original version commissioned from Titian by Philip II. Representing one of Titian’s most exquisite and sensuous “poesies,” inspired by Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the remarkable quality of this piece suggests significant involvement from Titian himself, possibly with minimal workshop intervention.

Regarding its estimated value: There are scarce sales precedents available for evaluating the worth of this masterpiece. Between 2009 and 2012, the United Kingdom successfully acquired two notable “poesies” by Titian, namely “Diana and Callisto” and “Diana and Actaeon,” for approximately £100 million1, thanks to a favorable financial arrangement with the owner. However, suggestions of prices as high as £300 million2 were circulated if the paintings were to enter the open market. In 1992, the Getty Museum obtained “Venus and Adonis” by Titian (though considered dubious then and now largely attributed to Titian’s workshop) after it was auctioned for $13.5 million3, marking one of the highest prices paid during the early 1990s recession. Going further back in time, “The Death of Actaeon” fetched an extraordinary price of £1.7 million in the 1971 auction, then among the highest ever paid for a painting.

Oil on canvas, measuring 101.6 x 101.6 cm. Part of the Niarchos collection, with an image © Andy Warhol / ARS New York.

Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe portraits stand among the most iconic artworks ever crafted. The “Shot Marilyns” consist of four square canvases, each 40 inches in size, captured by performance artist Dorothy Podber (1932-2008) at the legendary “The Factory” in Manhattan. “Red Marilyn” holds significant prominence as the second most iconic painting in the series, following the orange version.

Regarding its estimated value: In 1989, the “Red” canvas fetched $4.1 million1. Nine years later, the “Orange” painting was sold for $17.3 million2. Another nine years down the line, the “Turquoise” canvas (the sole one not shot by Dorothy Podber) was rumored to have sold for $80 million3. In 2018, reports suggested that the Orange Marilyn went for “over $200 million”4. In 2022, one of the two blue versions (typically less appealing to the market due to the background) was auctioned for $195 million5, inclusive of commissions.

Oil on canvas, measuring 125 x 178 cm. Part of the Gruppo Intesa Sanpaolo Collection.

Believed to be one of Caravaggio’s final works, possibly his last, painted in Naples around 1610. Notably distinct from his Roman period, a stylistic shift akin to “The Denial of St. Peter” in the Metropolitan Museum is evident in this painting.

Regarding its estimated value: Caravaggio’s works rarely enter the market, making them elusive for valuation. Some of his “minor” works have been suggested to command prices up to $100 million1. In 2019, a work with a questionable attribution was slated for auction with an estimated value of approximately €170 million2. It was sold privately before the auction for an undisclosed amount, likely considerably lower than its estimate3. While this painting holds significance within the artist’s career, it may not reach the same level as “The Conversion of St. Paul” from the Odescalchi Balbi collection (refer to a separate entry).

Note: open market valuation. However, due to Italian export restrictions, the painting cannot be sold to a foreign buyer.


Oil on panel, measuring 117 x 161 cm. Held in the Lobkowicz Family Collection, Prague.

“Haymaking” is part of a series of six paintings depicting the seasons, which includes renowned works like “Hunters in the Snow,” “The Gloomy Day,” and “Return of the Herd” (all housed in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna), along with “The Harvesters” in the Metropolitan Museum. A sixth piece from the series is believed to be lost. This particular painting is representative of the months of June and July, marking the onset of summer and the season of harvest.

Estimating its value proves to be a challenging task. There has been a scarcity of significant Bruegel pieces on the open market in recent times, with “The Wine of St. Martin’s Day” being privately acquired by the Prado Museum, unable to leave Spain1. As the sole masterpiece by Bruegel in private ownership (considering the questionable attribution of “Landscape with Christ and the Apostles at the Sea of Tiberias” and the diminutive size of “The Drunkard Pushed into the Pigsty”), determining a sale price becomes subjective. To offer a reference point, Christie’s valued “The Wedding Dance” from the Detroit Institute of Arts at between $100 million and $200 million in 20132.

Note: open market valuation. However, Czech export restrictions prevent the painting from being sold to a foreign buyer.

Oil on canvas, measuring 78 x 114 cm. Held in a private collection in Europe.

“Bal al le Moulin de la Galette” captures the vibrancy of one of the many lively gatherings at the Moulin de la Galette, a popular entertainment venue in Montmartre frequented by bohemians and artists like Toulouse-Lautrec, Van Gogh, and Renoir himself. The artist created two versions of this masterpiece: the featured painting and a larger rendition showcased at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

In 1990, it was acquired by Ryoei Saito at Sotheby’s for $78.1 million, ranking as the second most expensive painting at that time, surpassed only by Van Gogh’s “Doctor Gachet,” also acquired by the same collector. The painting was later resold at a reduced price in a private transaction in 1998. While the decline in value raises questions about future sales, it’s essential to note that “pure” Impressionist works haven’t experienced the same surge in popularity as modern or contemporary pieces. However, exceptional masterpieces, such as this Renoir, always attract interest at the highest level. Recent auction results, like Monet surpassing $100 million and Manet’s “Le Printemps” selling for $65 million, indicate a robust market. This painting, often considered Renoir’s only masterpiece in private hands, stands as an iconic representation of Impressionism. Drawing parallels with Seurat’s “Les Poseuses, Ensemble,” which sold for almost $150 million in 2022, both paintings represent smaller versions of absolute masterpieces, with this Renoir being more widely recognized and larger in scale than the Seurat work.

Oil on canvas, measuring 162 x 132 cm. Held in a private collection. Images © Estate of Pablo Picasso/ ARS.

“Nude, Green Leaves and Bust” stands as one of Picasso’s most renowned portraits of Marie-Thérèse Walter, crafted during his “miraculous year” in 1932. This painting can be viewed as a “double portrait” of Marie-Thérèse, featuring her as a sensually reclining figure and, at the top, in a bust rendered in white tones that emulate plaster’s texture.

The painting achieved a groundbreaking sale of $106.5 million at Christie’s New York in May 2010, marking the highest auction price for a painting at that time (without adjusting for inflation). Considering the substantial increase in the valuation of Picasso’s 1932 works, exemplified by “Le Rêve” selling for $155 million in 2013 (see separate entry, a work of comparable or greater significance to this painting), and notably, a less significant piece, “Woman Seated near a Window (Marie-Therese),” auctioning for $103 million in 2021 after a $45 million sale in 2013, it’s evident that the current value of “Nude, Green Leaves and Bust” surpasses $150 million.

Wassily Kandinsky - Composition V - 1911

Oil on canvas, measuring 190 x 275 cm. Part of the Ronald Lauder collection.

The seven monumental “Compositions” created by Kandinsky in the years leading up to the First World War stand as pivotal works within the artistic avant-garde of the last century. Boasting an impressive scale and intricate complexity, this piece is crucial for grasping the evolution of abstraction in modern art, positioning itself as one of the inaugural abstract paintings of the 20th century.

Originally sold for $40-50 million in a private sale in 1998, no other Kandinsky of comparable significance has been available on the market in recent times. The substantial surge in value witnessed by modern art over the past two decades implies that if this artwork were to be sold today, its price would undoubtedly multiply. Predicting the extent of this increase is challenging, given the absence of a comparable Kandinsky of such importance in recent market transactions. “Composition V” holds a pivotal status in modern art, surpassing the significance of any Pollock or Rothko, and could serve as the centerpiece for any noteworthy modern art collection globally, be it public or private.

Pastel on board, measuring 79 x 59 cm. Part of the Leon Black Collection.

“The Scream” stands as undeniably one of the most renowned paintings globally, an emblem of modern art that has evolved into an icon of distress and unease. Edvard Munch crafted four versions of this masterpiece (one in oil, one in tempera, and two in pastels), with the most renowned version housed in the National Gallery in Oslo. The featured work is the sole remaining version held in private ownership.

Acquired for $119.9 million in 2012, setting an auction record at the time, the sale price was perceived as surprisingly modest considering the iconic stature of the artwork. In the weeks leading up to the auction, some experts speculated that the piece could command $200 million, while British bookmakers positioned a sale price between $150 million and $200 million as the most probable outcome.

Oil on canvas, measuring 198 x 442.5 cm. Part of the Esther Grether Collection in Switzerland.

This monumental triptych, part of the artist’s trio of “Black Triptychs” and the sole remaining piece in private ownership, serves as a poignant memorial to George Dyer—Francis Bacon’s model and lover—who tragically succumbed to suicide through an overdose of alcohol and barbiturates. The “Black Triptychs” stand as posthumous tributes to Dyer, reflecting Bacon’s profound awareness of mortality.

Originally sold in 1989 for $6.3 million, establishing a record for the artist at that time, Bacon’s market value has soared in the ensuing years. His “Three Studies of Lucian Freud” briefly held the title of the most expensive painting in history when it fetched $142 million in a 2013 auction. “Triptych: May-June 1973” remains emotionally charged and is regarded as the artist’s paramount work in private hands—a masterpiece within the realm of postwar art.


Pablo Picasso - Garcon a la pipe - 1905

Pablo Picasso – Boy with a Pipe – 1905 Oil on canvas, measuring 100 x 81.3 cm. Part of a private collection.

In John Richardson’s biography of Picasso, he identifies the smoking youth in this painting as “P’tit Louis,” a local actor who passed away at a very young age. This portrait, a notable piece from Picasso’s Rose Period, holds significance in the auction world. Although the identity of the buyer remains undisclosed, some sources suggest Guido Barilla, the Italian pasta magnate.

Originally sold for $104.1 million in New York in 2004, setting an auction record with a pre-sale estimate of approximately $70 million, the painting holds a distinct place in art history. While its importance may not surpass that of “Les Noces de Pierrette,” its exceptional state of preservation, combined with the mystique of being, at the time, the most expensive painting ever auctioned (without adjusting for inflation), could arguably make it the most valuable painting from Picasso’s Blue and Rose Periods in private hands.

Andy Warhol - Shot Blue Marilyn - Shot Sage Blue Marilyn - 1964

Note: The estimate provided is for each of the paintings.

Two oil on canvas, each measuring 101.6 x 101.6 cm. Title: Shot Blue Marilyn

  • Brandt Collection
  • Private Collection (formerly Ammann Collection)

Warhol’s iconic portraits of Marilyn Monroe stand among the most renowned artworks ever created. The “Shot Marilyns” consist of four square canvases, each 40 inches on a side, captured by performance artist Dorothy Podber (1932-2008) at the legendary “The Factory” in Manhattan.

About the estimate: “Shot Blue Marilyn” was auctioned in 2022 for $195 million (including commissions)1. This can be compared to the 2018 sale of the orange version for “over $200 million”2, illustrating the market’s inclination toward versions featuring vibrant backgrounds.

Willem de Kooning - Interchange - 1955 - Oil on canvas - 200.7 x 175.3 cm

Oil on canvas, 200.7 x 175.7 cm. Image: © Succession Willem de Kooning / Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY Ken Griffin Collection

Following his “Women” series from 1950-1953, Willem de Kooning returned to pure abstraction, revisiting the experimentation of the late 1940s and creating notable compositions like “Gotham News” (Albright-Knox Art Gallery), “Police Gazette” (private collection), and the featured artwork.

About the estimate: Initially sold for $20.6 million in 19891 (then an auction record for a contemporary painting), it later set a record when acquired by billionaire collector Ken Griffin for $300 million2 in 2016. While determining the value of art carries subjective elements, the high price paid is challenging to justify. In terms of historical significance, De Kooning’s post-“Women” works do not mark a pivotal shift in art history. Despite being possibly his most significant abstract piece in private hands, other notable examples, like “Police Gazette” purchased by Mr. Cohen for $63 million in 20063, or “The Time of the Fire” (refer to a separate entry for this work), add to the exclusivity of De Kooning’s abstract creations.

Mark Rothko - No. 20 Yellow Expanse

Oil on canvas, 300 x 450 cm. Image: © Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY Private Collection

A monumental Rothko work, previously part of Rachel Mellon’s collection, comparable in both dimensions and significance to the renowned “Untitled” piece housed in the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.

About the estimate: Privately sold in 2014 alongside another Rothko and a Diebenkorn. Various sources suggest a price range of approximately $250-300 million1 for the group, with some indicating a specific valuation of $125 million for this painting in 20102. Other reports mention a value of $150 million before its sale3. According to David Anfam, the author of Rothko’s first catalog volume, this painting stands out as a “classic” Rothko, distinguished by its epic dimensions, unlike its Guggenheim counterpart in Bilbao, which is more intricate.

Raphael - Bridgewater Madonna and Holy Family with a Palm Tree

Oil on canvas, 82 x 57 cm (Bridgewater Madonna) Oil on canvas, Diameter: 101 cm (The Holy Family with a Palm Tree) Duke of Sutherland Collection (on loan to the National Gallery of Scotland)

Raphael’s most exquisite Madonnas, exemplified by the “Bridgewater Madonna,” stand as iconic representations of the Italian Renaissance. The straightforward yet powerful composition and the graceful countenance of the Virgin are truly captivating. In “The Holy Family with a Palm Tree,” the figures and landscape exhibit the influence of Leonardo da Vinci.

About the estimation: Both paintings are grouped together, as the subsequent considerations apply to each. “Madonna of the Pinks,” another smaller Madonna by the same artist (with a consensus on attribution), was acquired by the UK for 35 million pounds in 20041. No significant painting unanimously attributed to Raphael has surfaced in the market for at least five decades, suggesting an exceptionally high market value for any such work (with unquestioned attributions2). For comparison, a drawing by the artist titled “Muse’s Head” was auctioned for $47.9 million3 in December 2009.

Roy Lichtenstein - Oh Jeff I Love You Too But

Oil on canvas, 121.9 x 121.9 cm. Image: © Succession Roy Lichtenstein / ARS New York Private collection (formerly Stefan Edlis Collection)

The woman portrayed in this painting, with her blonde hair, blue eyes, and melancholic gaze, epitomizes the essence of Roy Lichtenstein’s work.

About the estimate: Acquired in 1980 for $210,0001, marking a record for Lichtenstein at that time. A work of comparable significance, though arguably somewhat less iconic, titled “Masterpiece,” reportedly sold from Agnes Gund to Steve Cohen for $165 million in 20172 (refer to separate entry). Another painting from Lichtenstein’s series of female portraits in the 1964 48 x 48-inch format, “Nurse,” went to auction in 2015, fetching $95.4 million3. Nevertheless, “Oh, Jeff…” stands out as a more iconic and representative piece.

Amedeo Modigliani - Reclining Nude Nu couche - 1917-1918 - Oil on canvas - 59.9 x 92 cm - Private collection

Oil on canvas, 60 x 92 cm. Liu Yiqian collection, China (on loan to the Long Museum)

Modigliani’s reclining nudes stand out as some of his most renowned and significant works. This particular painting is acknowledged as one of the most accomplished among them, even gracing the cover of various publications dedicated to the artist.

About the estimate: Fetching $170.4 million at Christie’s in 20151, it became the second most expensive painting ever auctioned at that time. The subsequent sale of “Nu couché (sur le côté gauche)” for $157 million (refer to separate entry) further affirmed the tremendous collector interest in Modigliani’s depictions of female nudes.

Pablo Picasso - Les femmes dAlger - version O - 1955 - 114 x 146.4 cm

Oil on canvas, 114 x 156 cm. image: © Estate of Pablo Picasso/ ARS Collection of Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani

In the latter part of his career, Pablo Picasso embarked on several series reinterpreting masterpieces, including “Las Meninas” by Velázquez or “The Women of Algiers” by Eugène Delacroix. On the latter theme, Picasso created fifteen canvases, each identified with a letter of the alphabet. This “O” version stands out as the last and most elaborate of the series.

About the estimate: Initially sold for $31,902,500 in 19971. Later, in May 20152, it achieved a staggering auction record for a work of art, fetching $179.4 million. The rationale behind such high prices for this work may be elusive. By 1955, Picasso, arguably one of the most significant painters of all time, had transitioned away from his groundbreaking cubist innovations and surrealist experiments, as well as the sensuality of his interwar works. Instead, he embraced reinterpretations of older works in a style that had become outdated. Nevertheless, the painting’s value is ultimately determined by what someone is willing to pay for it, and in 2015, the market resoundingly affirmed its status as one of Picasso’s most valuable works in private hands.


Gustav Klimt - Wasserschlangen II Freundinnen - 1907 - Oil on canvas - 80 x 145 cm - Private collection

Oil on canvas, 80 x 145 cm. Private collection, Asia

This significant painting is a part of Klimt’s “golden period,” alongside the more renowned “The Kiss” and “Adele Bloch-Bauer I.” Confiscated by the Nazis during World War II, it was later given to Gustav Ucicky, believed to be an illegitimate son of Klimt.

About the estimate: Acquired by Yves Bouvier for $112 million in 20131, it was subsequently sold for $187 million to Dmitri Rybolovlev2. Thereafter, it potentially changed hands again to an Asian buyer for $170 million3. Although Bouvier’s transactions with Rybolovlev may not serve as a benchmark for reasonable market values, the subsequent sale to an Asian buyer underscores the painting’s immense worth.

Peter Paul Rubens - Death of Decius Mus - Funeral of Decius Mus - 1617

Oil on canvas, 288 x 497 cm and 289 x 515 cm Prince of Liechtenstein Collection, displayed at the Liechtenstein Museum

Rubens, often hailed as “the Homer of painting,” stood out as the most grandiloquent and prolific of Baroque masters. His series portraying the life of the Roman consul Decius Mus stands as his inaugural pictorial cycle and is now recognized as one of his supreme artistic accomplishments (Reinhold Baumstark termed them “one of the greatest glories of the Liechtenstein collection”). Acquired by the Prince of Liechtenstein in 1693, this collection has remained in the princely possession ever since. “The Death of Decius Mus” and “The Funeral of Decius Mus” represent the concluding canvases in this cycle, boasting both the largest dimensions and unquestionably the most heightened narrative tension.

About the estimate: There is no modern market precedent for Rubens’ works of this magnitude. However, the prices fetched by two smaller-scale works can provide insight into the extraordinary value of these paintings. “The Massacre of the Innocents” (1611-1612, 148 x 182 cm) commanded £49.5 million1 ($86 million) in July 2002 (then among the highest prices ever paid for a painting), while “Lot and His Daughters” (1613-1614, 190 x 225 cm) garnered £44.9 million2 ($58.1 million) in July 2016. These monumental, striking works, with impeccable provenance, would undoubtedly be star pieces in any collection of Old Master paintings, be it public or private.

Andy Warhol - Turquoise Marilyn - 1964

Oil on canvas, 101.6 x 101.6 cm. Steven Cohen Collection 

Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe portraits stand as iconic masterpieces in the art world. “Turquoise Marilyn” is part of a set of five Marilyn portraits painted by Warhol in the 40 x 40-inch format. Dorothy Podber (1932-2008), a performance artist, captured the shots for four of them at the renowned “The Factory” in Manhattan, now recognized as the “Shot Marilyns.” Notably, “Turquoise Marilyn” is the only piece in the series not photographed.

Regarding the estimate: it changed hands in 2007 for an estimated price around $80 million1. In 2022, “Shot Blue Marilyn” fetched $195 million2 at auction (inclusive of commissions). Given the market’s appetite for iconic pieces, its distinction as the only painting in the series not part of the “Shot Marilyns” group might influence its valuation relative to the other four paintings.

Vincent van Gogh - Portrait artiste sans barbe

Oil on canvas, 40 x 31 cm. Private collection

Considered by some historians as Vincent van Gogh’s final self-portrait (while others contend the self-portrait in the Musée d’Orsay is later), this artwork was a gift to his mother.

Regarding the estimate: it changed hands for $71.5 million in New York in 19981, ranking among the five most expensive paintings ever auctioned at that time. Since then, no Van Gogh self-portrait has reappeared on the market.

Andy Warhol - Eight-Elvises-Eight - 1963 - Silkscree on canvas - 200 x 370 cm

Oil on canvas, 200 x 370 cm image: © Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY Private collection

Renowned pop art maestro Andy Warhol, famous for crafting multiple versions of his creations, deviated from this norm with his “Elvis” paintings. While producing 22 canvases featuring the image of “Double Elvis,” he uniquely crafted only one canvas portraying eight Elvises, bestowing exceptional significance upon this artwork.

Estimation details: Privately sold for $100 million in 20081 (formerly part of the Annibale Berlingieri collection). As the largest canvas within Warhol’s “Elvises” series, it stands as an exceptionally valuable and distinctive piece. For reference, a more conventional “Triple Elvis” fetched nearly $82 million in a 20142 auction.

Gustav Klimt - Adele Bloch Bauer II - 1912

Oil on canvas, 190 x 120 cm. Private collection, China.

This is the second rendition of the renowned “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I,” created five years after the original. In a highly successful auction, four works by Klimt, including this captivating canvas, achieved an astonishing total of $192 million.

Estimation details: Auctioned for $88 million in New York, 20061. The “Adele Bloch-Bauer I” (currently housed at the Neue Galerie in New York) was sold for $135 million earlier that year. Acquired by a Chinese buyer for $150 million in 20162. It seems improbable that the initial version of the painting will reappear in the market (although theoretically possible), given its historical significance and prominence.

Vincent van Gogh - Three Sunflowers - 1888

Oil on canvas, 73 x 58 cm. Private collection

“Sunflowers” stand as some of Van Gogh’s most iconic images, bearing fundamental importance to the artist himself (“The sunflower is mine, in a way,” he expressed). “Vase with three sunflowers” marks Van Gogh’s initial venture into the creation of “sunflower” paintings, excluding a series of less expressive works produced by the artist in Paris in 1887.

Estimation details: Acquired by the tycoon and collector Georges Embiricos for 4.7 million francs (£600,000) in 19701, an extraordinary price for that era. While offered to the Getty in 1996, it ultimately found a home with a private collector for an undisclosed price2. Serving as a reference for the significance of the “Sunflowers” series, note that “Vase with Fourteen Sunflowers” (see separate entry) took center stage in one of the most momentous auctions in art history, fetching nearly $40 million in 19873, tripling the preceding record for a work of art. Despite this version’s relative simplicity compared to the painting currently residing in Japan, it holds the distinction of being the inaugural piece in this noteworthy series.

Roy Lichtenstein - Masteripiece - 1962 - 137 x 137 cm

Oil on canvas, 137.2 x 137.2 cm Image: © Succession Roy Lichtenstein / ARS New York Steve Cohen Collection

“Masterpiece” stands as one of Roy Lichtenstein’s most identifiable paintings, crafted one year after his “Look Mickey” and one year prior to “Whaam!”, widely regarded as his most renowned works.

Estimation details: Acquired by Steve Cohen for a reported $165 million in 20171, the painting adds significant value to the collector’s esteemed art collection.

Rembrandt - Old Woman Reading - 1655

Oil on canvas, 79 x 65 cm. Duke of Buccleuch, Drumlanrig Castle

One of Rembrandt’s renowned late works, characterized by its boldness and intimacy, captures an enigmatic play of light and shadow, as if the elderly woman depicted is literally illuminated by the book she engages with.

Estimation details: Similar to the “Portrait of Jan Six” painted a year prior, which was valued around 2003 by Otto Naumann “at more than $150 million”1 (a figure that likely would have doubled in today’s market), this painting, though not surpassing the exceptional level of the former, holds significant value. Created during Rembrandt’s peak in his late period and boasting an impeccable provenance, it aligns with the substantial worth of Rembrandt’s masterpieces, exemplified by the Dutch State’s acquisition of “The Standard Bearer” for approximately $200 million2 in 2021.

Amedeo Modigliani - Nu couche - 1917

Oil on canvas, 84 x 146 cm. Private collection

“Nu couché (sur le côté gauche)” stands as Modigliani’s most expansive painting, uniquely encompassing the entire figure within the canvas among his renowned nudes.

Estimation details: Auctioned for $26.9 million at Christie’s New York in November 20031, the painting later achieved a remarkable $157.2 million at Sotheby’s New York in May 20182. Its distinction as the largest of Modigliani’s “Nudes” ensures its perpetual desirability in the art market.

Caravaggio - The Crowning with Thorns - 1604

Oil on canvas, 178 x 125 cm. Collection Banca Popolare di Vicenza

A creation from Caravaggio’s “Roman period,” showcasing the artist’s distinctive chiaroscuro technique. Another rendition of the same subject, also by Caravaggio, is housed in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.

Estimation details: Caravaggio’s works are exceedingly rare on the market, with valuations soaring to as much as $100 million1 for some of his “minor” works. In 2019, a questionably attributed piece was slated for auction with an estimated value of approximately €170 million2, eventually selling before the event for an undisclosed amount, likely below the estimate3. The painting’s attribution, labeled as “questionable” by experts like Gash (2001) and Puglisi (1998)4, tempers the potential valuation, which might otherwise surpass $200 million.

Note: Open market valuation. However, Italian export restrictions prevent the sale to a foreign buyer.

Paul Cezanne - La Montagne Sainte-Victoire vue des Lauves - versions

Note: The estimated price pertains to each of the works.

Oil on canvas, Henry and Rose Pearlman, New York (first) Private collection (second)

These two pieces stand out as exceptional depictions of Mount Sainte-Victoire painted by Cézanne, akin to the selection by as one of the 50 masterworks of painting. Cézanne’s series, alongside “The Card Players” and “Bathers,” is widely regarded as his paramount achievement, exerting a profound influence on the cubism of Picasso and Braque. Much like Hokusai in his “Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji,” Cézanne employed diverse viewpoints in his “Montagne Sainte-Victoire” paintings, allowing for a comprehensive representation of the mountain’s surroundings.

Estimation details: Lesser examples from this series fetched $100 million in 20141 and $137.8 million in 20222. However, these two canvases are supreme masterpieces, standing among the finest examples in the entire series.

Paul Gauguin - Mata Mua - 1892

Oil on canvas, 91 x 69 cm. Collection Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza – on deposit at Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.

This captivating painting, created just a year after Gauguin’s arrival in Tahiti, stands as one of the few masterpieces by the artist still held in private hands.

About the estimate: Acquired for $24.2 million in 19891, marking an auction record for the artist at that time (Gauguin’s current auction record is $105.7 million for “Maternité II” in 20222). However, “Nafea faa ipoipo?” achieved a remarkable $210 million (initial reports suggested $300 million) when sold to the Qatar Museums in 20153. Valuations for this painting vary, with some sources suggesting a figure as low as 40 million euros4 (deemed remarkably low), while others claim offers reaching 250 million euros5, which appears rather exaggerated. An auction house has mentioned a potential valuation of 150 million euros6, which seems comparatively more reasonable.

Francis Bacon - Three Studies of Lucian Freud - 1969 - Oil on canvas - 198 x 147.5 cm

Oil on canvas, 198 x 442.5 cm. Image: © The Estate of Francis Bacon Elaine Wynn collection

This expansive triptych by Francis Bacon captures another luminary of his generation, Lucian Freud. As described by Francis Outred from Christie’s, the artwork serves as “a conversation between two masters of 20th-century figurative painting, (…) paying homage to the creative and emotional kinship between the two artists.”

About the estimate: Achieved a staggering $142.4 million in November 20131, securing an auction record for any work of art (not accounting for inflation).

Diego Velazquez - Leccion de equitacion del principe Baltasar Carlos

Oil on canvas, 144 x 91 cm. Duke of Westminster collection

Diego Velázquez’s “Prince Baltasar Carlos on Horseback” exudes the grandeur expected in a remarkable Baroque painting. This is a notably fine Velázquez piece, arguable as his sole masterpiece remaining in private hands, and it possesses the potential to be the centerpiece of any major museum provided the Duke of Westminster can be persuaded to part with it.

About the estimate: Velázquez’s works appearing on the market are exceedingly rare. The only “great” Velázquez sold in “recent” times is “Juan de Pareja,” acquired by the Metropolitan in 1971 for $5.5 million1, then the most valuable painting sold at auction. However, some doubts regarding the attribution of the work2 may impact its estimation.

Vincent van Gogh - Enclosed Field with Rising Sun

Oil on canvas, 71 x 90.5 cm. Private collection

A powerful masterpiece by the artist, painted in Saint-Rémy in December 1889. This work was prominently featured by the artist in his exhibition at “Les XX 1890” in Brussels.

About the estimate: Sold for a then-impressive $9.9 million in 19851 (the highest price for any artwork that year). For context, another Arles landscape by Van Gogh, “L’Allée des Alyscamps,” was auctioned in the same year for $2.4 million2 and sold in 2015 for $66.3 million3. On the other hand, another landscape in a similar style (though much less expressive and significant) by the artist (“Laboureur dans un champ”), also painted in 1889, was auctioned for $81.3 million in 2017.

Pablo Picasso - Nu a la serviette - 1907

Oil on canvas, 116 x 89 cm Private collection

Another significant Picasso from 1907, the pivotal year in which Picasso completed “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon,” the painting that revolutionized the art of the 20th century.

About the estimate: A highly important painting with an excellent provenance, having been in the collection of Viscount and Viscountess Charles and Marie-Laure de Noailles for over 50 years1, it is not, however, as sought-after as the Picasso from the Goulandris Collection. Regarding the work in the Goulandris collection, the example of the small watercolor “Nu Jaune,” which sold for $13.7 million2 against a pre-sale estimate of only $3-4 million, is indicative of the immense value of works from this “Picassian” period.

Paul Cezanne - Nature-morte-rideau-a-fleurs-et-fruits

Oil on canvas, 73 x 92 cm Private collection, New York

Paul Cézanne, the most significant of the post-impressionists, crafted some of his most captivating compositions within the still life genre, with this painting standing out as one of the most intricate and masterful examples.

About the estimate: acquired in a private sale for $50 million in 1996 or 1997, then ranking among the top five highest prices ever paid for a painting. In many aspects, it is a more intricate and captivating artwork compared to “Rideau, Cruchon et Compotier,” which was sold three years later for $65 million2 (see separate entry).

Decoding Object Valuation: Unraveling the Intricacies of Provenance, Rarity, and Market Dynamics

To accurately assess the worth of an object, whether for a formal appraisal or estimating its value at auction, several critical factors must be taken into consideration. The key determinants of value include provenance, rarity, condition, quality, and current fashion or market trends. While no single factor alone dictates an object’s value, there are instances where a particular aspect carries more weight. The more esteemed and coveted each factor is within a specific market, the higher the perceived value of the object.

Provenance refers to the documented history of an item, encompassing the people, places, exhibitions, and sales associated with it throughout its existence. An object’s connection to a notable person or collector can significantly enhance its desirability and, consequently, its value. Noteworthy examples include auctions of personal belongings from iconic figures such as the Kennedys, Marilyn Monroe, or Martin Luther King, where the historical significance often surpasses the inherent value of the objects.

Rarity is a compelling factor that can elevate an object’s price, as seen with the sought-after “Inverted Jenny” stamp, where a printing error resulted in only 100 surviving stamps. The scarcity of an item, however, can also pose limitations, especially if it is the sole example in the world, making it challenging to establish a market value.

Condition plays a pivotal role in determining an object’s value. Whether assessing stamps, coins, art, or antiques, the state of preservation, damage, and restoration efforts significantly impact desirability. A well-maintained item, free from wear or damage, generally commands higher value, while restoration, if done skillfully, can enhance an object’s market appeal.

Quality, inherent in the craftsmanship, production methods, and artisan skill, is another crucial factor influencing an object’s long-term value. Items of superior quality tend to appreciate or retain value more effectively, with the best workmanship, production techniques, and skilled artisans contributing to the highest quality objects.

Fashion and market trends reflect the dynamic nature of collectors’ tastes, influencing the perceived value of objects. However, collectors should exercise caution not to be overly swayed by short-term trends, as market values can experience fluctuations based on changing attitudes and styles.

While economic trends impact the art and collectibles market, certain segments, like the rare coin market, have demonstrated resilience. Access to information through online databases has democratized market knowledge, allowing individuals to track sales and market prices for various objects. The art of appraising involves skillfully weighing the discussed value aspects to determine where a particular item fits into the hierarchy of value.

In exceptional cases, a convergence of rarity, condition, provenance, and quality during a trendsetting moment can result in extraordinary prices. Examples include the sale of a silver dollar (1804 Class I Original) for over $3.7 million, a crystal egg (Imperial Fabergé) for $20 million, and a painting (Jackson Pollock’s No. 5) reportedly fetching $140 million—a testament to the ‘perfect storm’ of value.

Etel Adnan: A Multifaceted Literary Journey Through Language, War, and Artistic Expression

Etel Adnan, a prolific writer born in Lebanon in 1925 to a Muslim Syrian father and a Christian Greek mother, has traversed every literary genre, from poetry and novels to essays, epistolary writings, and autobiography. Growing up in an Arab-speaking environment, she navigated a linguistic landscape that included Greek and Turkish. However, her education in French religious schools led to French becoming her language of choice for writing. Early exposure to English also became a significant element in her literary works. This linguistic diversity eventually led her to explore painting as an alternative means of expression, using abstract colors and lines in lieu of words.

Landscape 2014

Adnan pursued literature and philosophy studies in Beirut, Paris, and the United States, where she later taught the philosophy of art. Her journey as a writer took a poignant turn during the Lebanese civil war in 1975. Living in Paris at the time, she authored “L’Apocalypse arabe,” published in 1980. This groundbreaking work employed a unique combination of signs, replacing words with drawings and utilizing points, arrows, and black rectangles to convey a reality beyond linguistic expression.

‘Landscape’, 2014, © The Estate of Etel Adnan. Museé de l’Institut du monde arabe, Paris (donation of Claude and France Lemand)​

As the Lebanese civil war intensified, Adnan wrote “Sitt Marie Rose” in 1978, one of the earliest novels providing an insider’s perspective on the conflict and now regarded as a classic of Middle Eastern literature. Subsequent works by Adnan extensively delve into the conflicts plaguing the Middle East, which she perceives as a wounded body. Her sensitivity extends beyond regional struggles to encompass the sufferings of various peoples, including Native Americans, Vietnamese, and Black Africans. Adnan is committed to preserving the memory of civilizations marked by martyrdom, such as Iraq, Andalusia, and Byzantium.

Isa Genzken: Sculpting a Legacy of Versatility and Exploration in Contemporary Art

Nofretete and Mona Lisa 2014

Isa Genzken (German, b. 1948) stands as arguably one of the most significant and influential female artists in the last three decades. Born and primarily raised in the small northern German city of Bad Oldesloe, Genzken embarked on her artistic journey by studying fine arts and art history at the Hamburg University of Fine Arts and later at the Berlin University of the Arts. To fund her education at these prestigious institutions, she worked as a part-time model. In 1973, she continued her studies at the Arts Academy Dusseldorf and concurrently enrolled at the University of Cologne, delving into the realms of art history and philosophy. Following her graduation in 1977, Genzken assumed a teaching role, imparting her knowledge of sculpture at the academy. During this period, she also entered into a marriage with the renowned German painter Gerhard Richter. Genzken’s career led her to various locations, including studios in Dusseldorf, Cologne, Berlin, Lower Manhattan, and Hoboken in New Jersey. It is worth noting that Genzken grappled with bipolar disorder and sought treatment for substance abuse.

Isa Genzken and Gerhard Richter 1987

The versatility of Genzken’s sculptures is evident in their diverse shapes and sizes, ranging from small pieces to expansive installations that occupy entire rooms. Among her most renowned works is the reinterpretation of the bust of Nefertiti, an ancient Egyptian symbol of ideal beauty. In her series inspired by Nefertiti, Genzken appropriates plaster models of the female bust, adorning them with fashionable sunglasses. Adding a distinctive touch to this sculpture, she incorporates a reproduction of the Renaissance masterpiece Mona Lisa, utilizing it as a backdrop for overlaying her own self-portrait. This intriguing hybrid piece serves as a playful exploration of the historical lineage of female beauty. Genzken’s oeuvre extends to other complex assemblages, featuring potted plants, furniture, and photographs.

Rose (1993), in front of Leipziger Messe, Leipzig, Germany

Jenny Saville’s Artistic Triumph: From Record Auction Prices to the Boundaries of Figuration

Propped 1992 ©Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville’s “Propped,” which debuted in 1992, achieved a groundbreaking milestone by setting a record for the highest auction price for a living female artist. The artwork commanded an impressive 9.5 million pounds, approximately $12.4 million, during Sotheby’s “Frieze Week” evening sale of contemporary art on October 2, 2018.

Saville’s artistic exploration delves into the intricacies of the human form, transcending the confines of traditional figuration and embracing elements of modern abstraction. Using oil paint applied in rich layers, she brings an almost tangible quality to her canvases, blurring the lines between painted representations and living, breathing bodies. As she manipulates, smears, and scrapes the pigment across expansive canvases, the boundaries between reality and artistry begin to dissolve.

Fulcrum 1998-99 ©Jenny Saville

Born in Cambridge, England, in 1970, Saville pursued her studies at the Glasgow School of Art from 1988 to 1992, with a brief stint at the University of Cincinnati in 1991. Her fascination with the “imperfections” of flesh, laden with societal implications and taboos, became a focal point of her exploration. This fascination originated in her childhood, influenced by encounters with works by Titian and Tintoretto during trips with her uncle and observations of her piano teacher’s distinct anatomy. During a fellowship in Connecticut in 1994, Saville had the opportunity to observe a New York City plastic surgeon, profoundly shaping her perception of the body’s resilience and fragility. This experience ignited her investigation into the myriad ways flesh can be transformed and disfigured, leading her to explore medical pathologies, study cadavers, observe animals and meat, and examine classical and Renaissance sculpture.

Red Fates, 2018 ©Jenny Saville

A prominent member of the Young British Artists (YBAs), a collective of painters and sculptors that gained prominence in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Saville revitalized contemporary figurative painting. Her work challenges the boundaries of the genre and raises profound questions about society’s perception of the body. Despite its forward-looking nature, Saville’s art demonstrates a profound awareness, both intellectually and sensorially, of how the body has been represented across time and cultures. Her paintings draw inspiration from various sources, including antique and Hindu sculpture, Renaissance art, and the works of modern masters like Henri Matisse, Willem de Kooning, and Pablo Picasso.

Reflective Flesh 2002-03 ©Jenny Saville

In the expressive faces, intertwined limbs, and cascading folds of her paintings, one can discern echoes of masterpieces such as Titian’s “Venus of Urbino” (c. 1532), Rubens’s “Christ in the Descent from the Cross” (1612–14), and Manet’s “Olympia” (1863). Saville’s paintings resist fitting neatly into a historical continuum; instead, each body emerges independently, voluminous and unapologetically refusing to be concealed.

“Dora Maar: The Intersection of Art and Influence in the Shadows of Picasso”

The commencement of Dora Maar’s relationship with Pablo Picasso in 1936 is often regarded as a critical juncture that not only altered her personal life but also signified the culmination of her burgeoning artistic career.

During this period, Maar, a young and highly talented photographer, was establishing herself as a rising star within Surrealist circles. Notably, her photograph “Père Ubu” (1936) had become an emblematic representation of the Surrealist movement after its exhibition at the prestigious International Surrealist Exhibition in London.

However, under the sway of Picasso, an older and celebrated artist, Maar gradually abandoned her pursuits in photography, a medium Picasso perceived as inferior. His famous assertion, “inside every photographer is a painter trying to get out,” seemed to guide Maar’s artistic transition towards painting. The formidable shadow cast by Picasso’s stature in art history inevitably eclipsed Maar’s individual narrative. For an extended period, she was primarily remembered as the muse behind Picasso’s renowned “Weeping Women” series. It wasn’t until her passing in 1997 that art historians could delve comprehensively into Maar’s extensive body of work. Following her separation from Picasso in 1946, Maar began a gradual withdrawal from public life, resulting in her fading into relative obscurity by the time of her death.

Contrasting starkly with her later years of seclusion, Maar’s early days in Paris presented a different portrait of the artist. Born to a French mother and a Croatian-born architect father, she experienced a nomadic upbringing, shuttling between Paris and Buenos Aires. In 1926, at the age of 19, Maar’s family settled in the French capital. There, she immersed herself in serious art studies, attending André Lhote’s atelier alongside luminaries like Henri Cartier-Bresson. She also enrolled in institutions such as the École de Photographie de la Ville de Paris, the Union Centrale des Arts Décoratifs, and the Académie Julian. Although initially dividing her focus between painting and photography, Maar decisively dedicated herself to the latter by the 1930s.

The narrative of Dora Maar, shaped by the complexities of her relationship with Picasso and the subsequent overshadowing of her own artistic contributions, is a fascinating tale of a woman caught between personal influences and artistic pursuits.

Ana Mendieta: Navigating Nature, Identity, and Tragedy in Art

Ana Mendieta, a Cuban-American artist born on November 18, 1948, in Havana, was a multifaceted creative force specializing in performance art, video, and sculpture. Central to her artistic exploration was the interplay between the female form and the natural world. Among her most captivating works are those featuring photographs and video footage capturing her body blended seamlessly into natural surroundings, exemplified in pieces like “Untitled (Silueta Series Mexico)” (1973–1978).

At the age of 12, Mendieta immigrated to the United States, escaping the oppressive Castro regime in Cuba, leaving her parents behind. Her nomadic early life profoundly influenced her artistic endeavors, with much of her work reflecting a poignant longing for her homeland. Explaining the connection between herself and nature in her art, she stated, “My exploration through my art of the relationship between myself and nature has been a clear result of my having been torn from my homeland during my adolescence. It is a way of reclaiming my roots and becoming one with nature.”

Mendieta pursued her academic journey, earning an MA in painting and an MFA in intermedia from the University of Iowa. After completing her degrees, she relocated to New York, where she crossed paths with her future husband, Minimalist sculptor Carl Andre. Tragically, Mendieta passed away at the age of 36 on September 8, 1985, falling from the 33rd floor of a Greenwich Village building. Although Andre was initially considered the sole suspect in her untimely death, he was later acquitted.

Ana Mendieta, Rome studio, 1985 photographer unknown

In 2005, the Des Moines Art Center in Iowa curated the exhibition “Ana Mendieta: Earth Body, Sculpture and Performance 1972–85,” garnering critical acclaim. Today, her impactful works are showcased in esteemed institutions such as the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. Mendieta’s artistic legacy, intertwined with her advocacy for women’s rights, endures as a testament to her enduring impact and the personal sacrifices she made for her art. Notable pieces like “Untitled (Facial Hair Transplants)” (1972) not only explore power dynamics through hair transfer but also echo childhood memories of her grandmother playfully using Mendieta’s long braids as a mustache, portraying imaginary characters.

A Love Story of Contradictions

The love story of Edward Hopper and Josephine Nivison is one of contradictions – a passionate union that fueled artistic greatness but also obscured the individual talent of one partner. Despite the challenges and conflicts, their intertwined lives left an indelible mark on the art world, creating a narrative that goes beyond canvas and paint.

In 1924, at the age of 41, New Yorker Josephine (Jo) Nivison married Edward Hopper. Her diverse background included roles as a teacher, actor, and participation in New England art colonies. Jo was not only accomplished but a successful artist, featured alongside luminaries like Man Ray, Modigliani, and Picasso. This success allowed her to make a living by selling sketches to newspapers.

On the other hand, Edward Hopper faced artistic obscurity. Jo’s support came to the forefront when six of her watercolors were selected for an exhibition, leading to Hopper’s first painting sale in a decade. Over the following years, Hopper’s career soared while Jo’s declined, seemingly overshadowed by his success.

Edward Hopper – Eleven in the morning

Jo’s presence in Hopper’s paintings became iconic, embodying various roles in lonely urban scenes. She was the constant female figure in Hopper’s depictions, from the sun-drenched lady in “Summertime” (1943) to the pensive usherette in “New York Movie” (1939). The Hoppers, living in a tiny Manhattan apartment, embodied the cliché of a tempestuous relationship, marked by violence, as noted in Jo’s diaries.

Edward Hopper – Nighthawks

Despite the challenges, Jo played a crucial role behind the scenes, cataloging Hopper’s paintings and adding her own comments. She passed away in 1968, a year after her husband, and many of her paintings were initially thought lost. However, a recent acquisition by the Provincetown Art Association and Museum brought together 96 of Hopper’s works and 69 drawings and watercolors by Jo, showcasing their collected works for the first time.

Josephine Nivison Hopper “Truro Hospitality

The love story of Edward Hopper and Josephine Nivison is a complex narrative, intertwining passion, creativity, and conflict. Their relationship, defined by a profound artistic connection, propelled Hopper’s career while casting a shadow over Nivison’s individual talents. Despite the challenges, their lives have left an indelible mark on the art world, transcending canvas and paint.