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The most expensive sales on the world art market

One of the most interesting topics in the art market is the most expensive works sold in the world. We are talking about works sold in the last twenty or thirty years at auctions. Let’s just say that modern art prevails among them, the composition “Scream” by Munch is one of the most expensive works, although it was written by our contemporary. The old masters yield to impressionism, and the latter to modern art. But if you build this chain chronologically: first, the works of old masters, then impressionism and trends of the first half of the 20th century, and then modern art – the so-called Contemporary art, then you get this “rating”.

“Massacre of the innocents” by Peter Paul Rubens
You can start it with Rubens ‘work, ” Beating babies”, The most expensive of the old masters ‘ paintings, sold in 2002 for 77 million US dollars (now it would be adjusted for inflation, about 100 million US dollars).

P. Rubens “massacre of the innocents”

It was so highly appreciated as a result of several factors: first, the picture suddenly appeared on the art market, that is, it became “UN-illuminated” – “non-burnt” (as opposed to burnt). Of course, there are no unknown masterpieces. Any painting has a provenance, where it was, in what collections, where it was restored? This painting has a perfect provenance – it is possible to trace its fate from Rubens’s Studio to the present time. In ser. In the seventeenth century (the artist died in 1640), it is mentioned in a very good Antwerp collection-from a certain Giacomo-Antonio Karena, and then bought by a representative of the Liechtenstein family. This is a great collection that was collected already in the XVII century. so in the collection of the princes of Liechtenstein “Beating babies” Rubens in 1920 decided to sell. because there were doubts about attribution. This is not the most typical work for Rubens ‘ works, taking into account the time of execution-the Italian period. The male figure on it evokes Michelangelo’s reminiscences.

Another factor of attraction: for centuries, the painting “Beating babies” was in the same hands. In excellent preservation, never restored. There are almost no paintings of old masters that have not been touched by the restorer’s hand. This is a rare case when the restorer’s hand did not touch the surface of the painting.

Here we can note with regret the fact that the paintings of the 20th century are often in a worse condition than the paintings of the old masters.

Moreover, when this Rubens appeared on the market, experts came to the conclusion that this picture was first completely written with his own hand, without the help of artists from the master’s Studio, which is extremely rare in his work. He had his own methods, large-scale orders. The phenomenon of the artist and the workshop in relation to the art of the 17th century was perceived differently.

Changing the authorship of Rubens is usually due to the fact that the paintings are derived from his own authorship and transferred to the authorship of his Studio. “The Union of Earth and Water” is not Rubens, but a workshop. However, in this case, this is not observed – apparently, Rubens himself wrote “Beating babies” from beginning to end.

Finally, in favor of increasing the price of the picture played the size. Even a small portrait of Rubens will be expensive. This is an objective indicator – two figures – one cost, four-more expensive.

As a result, another factor that increases the cost: the name of the collector is known – a canadian Thomson, who bought a lot of paintings in the second half of the 20th century and presented it for display in the London National gallery. If the national Gallery of London, which has one of the best collections on earth, took the picture to itself, it confirms the quality of its provenance and provides good tax benefits for the collector.

The national Gallery had hoped that they would get the painting in their will, but Thompson bequeathed it to a canadian Museum, which led to the sale of the painting at auction.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir. “Ball at the Moulin de La Galette»
Auguste Renoir ” Ball at the Moulin de La Galette”

A smaller copy of the painting in 1990 was sold at Sotheby’s in new York for $ 78.1 million, which at that time made it the second most expensive painting in the history of auctions.

This can be explained by the General “obsession” with impressionism currently observed, although impressionism was not so popular until the 1950s. Impressionist paintings are very simple to perceive, easier than the paintings of the old masters. Americans, following the fashion, even developed their impressionistic style of painting, but this was not the best step in art.

Most people collect what is recognized by the world history of art – it is safer than what does not yet have the hue of a universally recognized masterpiece. Sometimes it turns out to be a paradoxical situation; now it is more avant-garde to collect paintings of old masters than to collect avant-garde.

Everyone went through the passion for Impressionists. As soon as a region joins the world’s elite, there is first of all an active buying up of Impressionists ‘ work. At that time, Japanese collectors were in the lead, which had not yet been hit by the crisis of the fall of the yen in the 90’s. a record number of impressionist paintings were collected in Japan. The Japanese love for Renoir is amazing – there is a collection of fifty Renoir paintings.

This painting was bought on Sotheby’s by a man named Saito – the second paper manufacturer in Japan. He said that this picture would go down with him to the grave. But before that, he was broke, probably broke up with her. The further fate of the painting is unknown. It is difficult to predict whether the painting will appear again at auction in the next 50 years.

Claude Monet, ” the Pond with water lilies»
2008 80, 5 million dollars-Sotheby’s.

Claude Monet ” Pond with water lilies”

Since 1919, when the painting was painted, it has been exhibited only once. This painting was “UN-illuminated” at the time of sale, which increased its value. According to unofficial information, it was bought by a Russian collector living in London, Andrey Melnichenko.

Melnichenko is considered one of the former owners of MDM Bank, started with the company EuroChem. He is also known for buying works by Impressionists and old masters, and has an interesting collection of decorative and applied art. It is believed that he also bought one of constable’s works, and also for a record price.

Gustav Klimt. Portrait Of Adele Blochbauer, “Golden Adele”.
For several years, it was the most expensive sale in the world (2006, $ 135 million). The painting was not put up for auction, but was sold through a private sale. The painting is so famous that it is considered one of the”icons of the 20th century”. Almost everyone recognizes it. Recognizable ornament, very well fragmented. There is a mystery with an erotic flavor, thanks to which the picture is sometimes called the Austrian Mona Lisa.

In General, it should be noted that Gustav Klimt came into fashion along with all the Austrian art Nouveau. This is a fairly new phenomenon. The market for French impressionism had by then exhausted itself; many paintings were bought out, and people turned their eyes towards Germany and Austria. This phenomenon is quite recent.

The price of the work was also influenced by Klimt’s biography. There are many rumors about the passionate love between the artist and his model. This very dramatic provenance inevitably significantly increased the cost of the picture.

The painting was in the collection of the Vienna Belvedere – two paintings for which tourists went there: “Adele” and Klimt’s “Kiss”. During the period of restitution, there were suspicions that the painting got into the Belvedere illegally. Allegedly, Adele wanted the painting to be in the Belvedere collection. She died early, the painting remained in the collection of her husband Ferdinand Blochbauer – he was a collector and a Jew. When the Anschluss took place (the seizure of Austria by Nazi Germany), for some reason he transferred it to the Belvedere and, apparently, forced it. There is reason to believe that Ferdinand simply could not take the painting with him. In the case of Bloch-Bauer-gave the painting in exchange for permission to withdraw the main part of the collection from Austria. This gave rise to the niece of a model named Maria Altman to sue-as the heiress of Ferdinand. Maria agreed to give the painting to the Museum for half the price, but a man appeared who offered her double the price, and she agreed.

The picture was in America. In America, there was a collector who purposefully collects German and Austrian art of this period, who bought this picture.

Edvard Munch, “The Scream»
The painting belonged to Norwegian billionaire Petter Olsen, who put it up for auction in may 2012. As a result, the painting was sold to Leon black for 119 million 922 thousand 500 dollars, which at that time represented a record for works of art.

This is another “icon of the 20th century”. Munch is one of the most commercial artists of recent times. Munch surpassed many Impressionists in the number of exhibitions. The painting is not a painting, but a gouache on cardboard with a pronounced expressive style of writing, characteristic of Munch. Munch’s popularity has features of “morbid insanity”, which is largely determined by Freudian moments. In terms of the number of artists to whom exhibition projects are dedicated, he is the leader over the past 10 years.

The scream is one of four versions of this song. Of course, famous artists began to write copies of their own paintings in the 17th century. If there are several author’s options, this is evidence of the recognition of the painting by contemporaries. For example, there are two versions of “The boy bitten by a lizard”, which indicates the high popularity of the picture. At the time, the picture was so popular that there was a customer who wanted the same.

In the 20th century, there was a phenomenon of copyright options that the artist writes for himself when he wants to sell a picture. It is necessary to separate the author’s versions, copies, and repetition of the workshop. Quite often in the art market there are options. For example, the artist Nesterov in his old age copied the vision of the boy Bartholomew, and Vasnetsov copied his most famous compositions.

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