(when adjusted for inflation)
7) Vincent van Gogh - Irises
Completed by the Dutch artist in 1889 at the asylum at Saint Paul-de-Mausole in Saint-Remy-de-Provence, France shortly before he died. This well-known work came up for auction in 1987, when it was sold by the son of Joan Whitney Payson to collector Alan Bond through Sotheby’s, New York. The painting went for $53.9 million, which when adjusted for inflation equals $97.5 million today. It is worth pointing out, however, that the buyer did not have enough money to ever pay the full bill, and eventually the piece was acquired by the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, where it remains on display today.
6) Pablo Picasso - Garcon a la pipe
It was created when the artist was just 24 years old. The oil painting features orange and pink shades, which characterized his well-known “Rose Period.” While the overall style of the piece is a departure from some other examples of his most famous work, the painting surprised art critics when it brought in $104.2 million at auction through Sotheby’s, New York in 2004, which was much higher than expected. The sellers were the Whitney family/Greentree foundation. The selling price, when adjusted for inflation, totals $113.4 million today.
5) Pierre-Auguste Renoir - Bal au Moulin de la Galette, Montmarte
Painted in 1876, it was sold by owner Betsey Whitney through Sotheby’s, New York, in 1990. The high bid came from a Japanese businessman named Ryoei Saito, who paid $78.1 million back then. This translates to $122.8 million today. It is important to point out that two versions of this painting exist. The first one is housed at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, while the second, smaller one, is the one that Saito purchased. In addition to this masterpiece, Saito also purchased a famous Van Gough work as well (see number 4 below).
4) Vincent van Gogh - Portrait of Dr. Gachet
In addition to the Renoir listed in number 5 above, Japanese businessman Ryoei Saito also purchased this painting in 1990, this time through an auction at Christie’s, New York. The seller was the Siegfried Kramarsky family. This work went for $82.5 million, which today equals $129.7 million. A rumor in the art world regarding Saito’s purchase of both the Renoir and the van Gogh is that when he died, he wanted to have the paintings be cremated along with his body. However, Saito is said to have clarified this request, explaining that he did not mean this literally, but was just figuratively trying to express his deep appreciation for these two famous paintings.