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Top 20 List Of Most Valuable Paintings In Museums

The value of a painting is hard to judge. Thousands of paintings could have immense value, but it only matters how much somebody wants to pay for them.

Because art is something completely objective, the rational law of supply and demand doesn’t really work to determine the value of a painting.

We did extensive research in the world of paintings, and we have come up with a top 20 list of the most valuable paintings in museums today.

Some estimates are based on sales made in the past and if not recent, the sale price has been adjusted for inflation. Other valuations are based on how much museums are willing to sell the painting for and yet other painting valuations are based on a combination of these metrics.

Do You have some spare cash and want to hang a popular painting on your bedroom wall?

If You’re lucky a museum wants to sell you some of these top paintings, this is what You’ll have to pay.

PS: We firmly believe a painting such as Girl With a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer among many others should be included in the list, but only 20 could make it!

20. $43.7 Million – “Water lilies” –  Claude Monet

Claude Monet was a French impressionist painter who was able to capture nature in a very unique way.

In his later days around the year 1919, he created a series of paintings while sitting in his garden looking at his pond, which was covered with water lilies.

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Little would he know that his most famous water lilies painting would sell for over $43 Million and be on public display in the New York Metropolitan Museum Of Art.

most valuable paintings in museums - Water Lilies Claude Monet New York Metropolitan Museum Of Art

19. $88 Million – “Portrait of Alfonso d’Avalos, Marquis of Vasto, in Armor with a Page” – Titian

The Portrait of Alfonso d’Avalos with a Page is a painting created by Renaissance artist Titian around 1533 in Bologna, Italy, and depicts Alfonso D’Avalos, a general of the infamous holy Roman emperor Charles V.

It was supposed to be bought from private owners by the Louvre in Paris, but because they let the 12 year period the sale must have been agreed on expiring, the Getty Museum in Los Angeles was able to acquire it for $70 Million back in the early 2000s.

With a current valuation of $88 Million, it ranks number 19 in our list of most expensive paintings in museums today.

Alfonso d'avalos gettym museum los angeles

18. $90 Million – “Massacre of the Innocents” – Peter Paul Rubens

The Massacre of the Innocents is a double painting by Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens, depicting a passage of the gospel of Matthew, namely the massacre of Bethlehem.

It’s another very old painting dating back to 1612 and was sold in a London auction for an astounding $76.7 Million Dollars to Canadian businessman Kenneth Thompson.

He then donated the painting to the Art Gallery of Ontario where it’s on public display today.

Massacre of the innocents Art Gallery of Ontario

17. $113 Million – “Nude, Green Leaves and Bust” – Picasso

Nude, Green Leaves and Bust is a 1932 painting by the famous Pablo Picasso, depicting his mistress Marie-Thérèse Walter.

The painting was sold at the Christie’s Auction house in New York and was bought in combination with the entire collection of Frances Brody who passed away in 2009.

The price reached $106.5 million and while currently privately owned, it’s on a long-term loan to the Tate Modern art gallery in London, where it’s on public display.

Nude green and bust tate modern london

16. $118 Million – “Flag” – Jasper Johns

“Flag” is a hot wax painting created by Jasper Johns when he was 24 around 1954, 2 years after he was discharged from the US Military.

It’s one of many paintings of Jasper and was inspired by a dream he had about the US flag.

He persuaded a friend of his to buy the painting in 1968, who then donated the painting to the museum of modern art in New York City where it’s on public display today.

flag painting museum of modern art new york city

15. $180 Million – “Portrait of Marten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit” – Rembrandt

The portraits of Maerten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit are a dual painting created by Dutch painter Rembrandt and are based on the marriages of both men in 1634.

Interestingly enough, these are two separate paintings but have been kept together since their creation.

They were formerly owned by the Rothschild family and were bought together by the Louvre in Paris and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, who both shared in the 160 Million Euro price tag.

Portrait of Marten Soolmans and Portrait of Oopjen Coppit louvre and rijskmuseum

14. $200 Million – Number 17A – Jackson Pollock

Number 17A has been created by Jackson Pollock in 1948, an American abstract expressionist painter.

Before it was sold for a whopping $200 Million to Kenneth C. Griffin, it was on public display in the Art Institute of Chicago.

Number 17A Painting

13. $350 million – Ginevra de’ Benci – Leonardo da Vinci

The Ginevra de’ Benci painting depicts the 16-year old Florentin aristocrat Ginevra and was created by Italian Polymath Leonardo Da Vinci in 1974.

This is an oil-on-wood portrait and was acquired by the National Gallery of Art in Washington back in 1967.

The price paid was $5 Million, an absolute record at that time, hence the high valuation of $350 Million today.

Ginevra de benci painting National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

12. $350 Million – Excavation – Willem de Kooning

Willem De Kooning was a Dutch-born American painter known for his abstract expressionism paintings.

In 1950 he created one of his biggest works of art called “Excavation” which is on public display in The Art Institute of Chicago.

Because he was such an influential painter in abstract expressionism and this work exemplifies this, the valuation is extremely high and ranks at place 12 in our list of most expensive paintings in museums.

Excavation painting willem de kooning chicago

11. $350 million – Woman Holding a Balance – Johannes Vermeer

The Woman Holding A Balance painting was created by Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer in 1662 and was originally thought to be of a woman weighing gold. Closer inspection showed that the balance is, in fact, empty hence the name.

It’s currently on public display in the National Gallery of Art in Washington and is valued at about $350 Million, making it the 11th most expensive painting on our list.

Woman holding a balance national gallery of art Washington DC

10. $400 million – The Red Studio – Henri Matisse

The Red Studio Painting, also known as “L’Atelier Rouge” is a painting created by Henri Matisse in 1911.

It’s considered to be one of the most influential paintings in modern art in the world and depicts Matisse’s own atelier that he built for himself using a red tone.

Because it’s such an influential work, it’s valued at $400 Million Dollar and is currently on public display in the Museum Of Modern art in New York City.

the red studio painting museum of modern art new york city

9. $450 Million – Number 1 – Jackson Pollock

Another work by Jackson Pollock in our list is called Number 1, also known as Lavender Mist.

It was created by Pollock in 1950 in a small studio on the East End of Long Island where he created most of his work.

Because it signifies the breakthrough of his chaotic style of painting, it’s considered his most influential work valued at an amazing $450 Million. It can be viewed in the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC.

Lavender mist painting national gallery of art washington

8. $450 Million – Salvator Mundi – Leonardo Da Vinci

Salvator Mundi depicts Jesus in renaissance clothing and is one of the 20 known paintings of Leonardo Da Vinci and created in the year 1500.

It has been on public display in a Da Vinci exhibition on 2011-2012 and was sold in a public auction in the Christies auction house in New York City for a whopping $450 Million.

Even though it was scheduled to be publicly displayed in the Louvre Abu Dhabi in late 2017, its current whereabouts are unknown.

Salvator Mundi painting leonardo da vinci

7. $500 Million – Interchange – Willem de Kooning

Another piece of art in our top list by abstract expressionist Willem De Kooning is his work Interchange.

The reason it’s valued so high is mostly that it marks the beginning of the change in his style under influence of his colleague Franz Kline, effectively shaping all his future works.

It was sold for $300 Million back in 2015 to Kenneth C. Griffin and is currently on loan to the Art Institute Of Chicago.

interchange painting willem de kooning Art Institute Of Chicago

6. $500 Million – The Bathers – Paul Cézanne

The Bathers is a painting created around the year 1900 by French painter Paul Cézanne. It’s considered one of the masterpieces of modern art.

It’s the largest painting in a series of bathers paintings by Cézanne and was purchased in 1937 by the Philadelphia Museum Of Art for $110,000 where it’s still currently on public display.

The large bathers cézanne Philadelphia Museum Of Art

5. $650 Million – A Sunday Afternoon on La Grande Jatte – Georges Seurat

A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte was created by Georges Seurat in 1884 and depicts people relaxing in a park near the river Seine on the Grande Jatte island in Paris.

It’s one of the most famous paintings of Seurat as it positioned him as the leader of the Neo-Impressionists.

It was acquired by the Art Institute of Chicago back in 1924 for a total sum of $24,000, and it’s still on display there now.

A Sunday Afternoon on La Grande Jatte Art Institute of Chicago

4. $700 Million – The Joy of Life – Henri Matisse

The Joy Of Life or “Le Bonheur De Vivre” is a painting created by Henri Matisse in 1906 and is considered one of the most important modernist works.

The painting by Matisse is owned by the Barnes Foundation, an art collection and educational institute located in Philadelphia.

The joy of life painting barnes foundation Philadelphia

3. $830 Million – Mona Lisa – Leonardo Da Vinci

Unquestionably the most well-known painting and work of art in the world is the Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci, which was created in the early 1500s.

It was originally bought by King Francis I of France and is now simply owned by the Republic of France and is on permanent display in the Louvre in France.

On December 14, 1962, the value has been estimated to be around $100 Million, which would make the current value well over $800 Million, hence it sat in third place in our list of most expensive paintings in the world.

Mona lisa painting louvre paris

2. $900 Million – Starry Night – Vincent Van Gogh

Starry Night by the Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh is his Ultimate Magnum Opus. It’s considered one of the most recognized paintings in the world and depicts the view of the painter’s asylum window at night in a French town.

It has been in the possession of the Museum Of Modern Art since 1941, and if it would be sold today we are confident it would break all records by a serious margin.

The news alone of Starry Night by Van Gogh being sold would push the price upwards, hence its estimated value is $900 Million, making it the second most valuable painting on our list.

Starry night painting van gogh new york city

1. $950 Million – Les Demoiselles d’Avignon – Pablo Picasso

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, originally called “The Prostitutes of Avignon, is a work created by (arguably) the most famous painter in history, Pablo Picasso.

Back in 2015, one of his paintings sold for $179 Million, and while it still is a Picasso, it wasn’t considered one of his top works.

At the time it was a groundbreaking piece of art that further defined Picasso’s style, hence it’s valued highest resulting in the first spot on our list.

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon  - Pablo Picasso