The best-selling works of art in 2023

20 December, 2023

Pablo Picasso, Woman at the Clock ($139,363,500 USD)

The 1932 painting fetched the second highest price at auction for a work by the late artist at $139.3 million. This amount represents the second highest price ever paid for a work by this distinguished artist, who died 50 years ago.

The painting is a portrait of Marie-Thérèse Walter, one of Picasso’s companions and muses, who was a prominent French painter. The work, valued at more than $120 million by the auction house’s estimate, previously belonged to wealthy New Yorker Emily Fisher Landau, who owned an impressive collection that included works by artists such as Jasper Johns, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko and Andy Warhol.

Picasso, after this sale, now has at least six paintings worth more than USD 100 million.

Gustav Klimt, Dame mit Fächer (The Lady with the Fan) (106,756,354 USD )

The painting, created by Austrian artist Gustav Klimt between 1917 and 1918, was auctioned in London for the remarkable sum of US$94.3 million during an auction organized by the renowned Sotheby’s house.

The “Lady with Fan” managed to beat the previous record for the most expensive work of art in Europe held by Italian Alberto Giacometti’s stylized sculpture Walking Man I. This record had stood since 2010, when the sculpture fetched £65 million (equivalent to €75.5 million at the current exchange rate), cementing it as the most valuable work sold at a European auction to date.

This painting, which stands out for being a portrait of a woman, is impregnated with oriental motifs, forming part of Japonism. This artistic current, which flourished in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in Western art, is characterized by the marked influence of Japanese aesthetics, and Klimt explored this movement in some of his works.

Claude Monet, The Nymphs’ Basin ($74,010,000 USD)

At Christie’s New York evening sale of Impressionist and modern art in New York in November, the painting surpassed its projected estimate of $65 million by selling for an impressive $74 million. Prior to this sale, “Le bassin aux nymphéas” had never been exhibited or auctioned, remaining an “undiscovered” work in a family’s private collection for more than 50 years. This painting now ranks sixth as Monet’s most expensive work ever sold at auction, with the record still held by “Meules” (1890), which fetched $110.7 million.

Jean-Michel Basquiat, The Big Show (The Nile) ($67,110,000 USD)

Painted in 1983, it explicitly shows the artist’s African influences alongside what appears to be an Egyptian ship led by the god Osiris, sailing through the Egyptian-named cities of Memphis and Thebes in Tennessee.

This work was part of the collection of fashion designer Valentino Garavani, who acquired it for 5.2 million dollars in 2005. Since then, it has occupied a prominent place as one of the main pieces in what Garavani called the “Garavani Museum”.

“The Greatest Show” now ranks as the artist’s fourth most expensive painting… However, it still falls far short of the record set by the 1982 work “Untitled,” sold at Sotheby’s in 2017 for a staggering $110.5 million.

Gustav Klimt, Insel im Attersee (Island in the Attersee) ($53,188,500 USD)

At a Sotheby’s auction in New York, Klimt’s painting ‘Insel im Attersee’, created in 1902, fetched a remarkable $53.2 million after a bidding that lasted seven minutes and involved three buyers. This event marked the first major sale of the season at Sotheby’s in 2023.

The painting, which represents one of the few landscapes created by the Austrian artist Gustav Klimt during his entire career, seeks to capture the nuances of the sun on the water and the multicolored reflections that emerge, standing out for the dominance of green tones and a technique that evokes pointillism.

Klimt was the only artist to be positioned with two of his works in the top 10 most expensive artworks of 2023.

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