11 Most Expensive Pieces of Artwork Ever Sold

When most of us think about purchasing a work of art, we think about either buying a poster online, or at the very most walking over to a local gallery or a coffee shop displaying work, and purchasing whatever strikes our fancy. The pieces of art on this list come from a different world entirely — one populated by white gloved employees carefully displaying priceless works of art to be bid on by dealers on behalf of billionaires hidden in the shadows.

These auctions are a spectacular display of wealth, but also illustrate the lengths some collectors will go to ensure these works of art remain available for the public to enjoy. Here’s a list of some of the most expensive works of art ever sold.

Adele Bloch-Bauer I by Gustav Klimt – $135 million

A stunning portrait of heiress Adele Bloch-Bauer done by Gustav Klimt was recently purchased on behalf of the Neue Gallerie in New York for a staggering $135 million. The acquisition was made by Ronald Lauder, the son of Joseph and Estée Lauder, founders of the Estee Lauder cosmetic company.

The painting’s ownership was debatable for many years, as it was part of a restitution case between the Austrian government and the estate of the Bloch-Bauer family. The family argued that the portrait was seized by Nazi soldiers, and rightfully belonged to them. In 2006, the painting was awarded to Maria Altmann, the niece of Adele Bloch-Bauer, who then sold the work to Mr. Lauder.

Public Domain
Public Domain