Ridiculously Expensive Works of Art That’ll Leave You Scratching Your Head

Art is subjective… and really expensive, apparently. And it’s not just a couple of hundreds that were thrown at these art pieces; we’re talking about tens and hundreds of millions of dollars here. Can you imagine being so rich that you casually spend a bunch of money on a painting? Most of us can’t, which is why this list will leave you scratching your head. Go ahead and take a look. Are these paintings really worth all this money?

1. Interchange by William de Kooning

To start things off we have the Interchange painting by American abstract expressionist William de Kooning. It was sold by the David Geffen Foundation to American hedge fund manager Kenneth G. Griffin for an impressive $300 million. Just what was so amazing about that painting? You’d have to ask Griffin that because at first glance it’s just a jumbled and abstract patchwork of shapes and colors. He must have really seen something in it that other people don’t.

2. No. 6 (Violet, Green and Red) by Mark Rothko

The No. 6 painting is a simple abstract painting featuring horizontal bands of violet, green and red – well, red-orange to be exact. The painting was sold for $184 million but the more interesting part is that it’s one of the 36 pieces in the “Bouvier Affair,” – a complex series of lawsuits involving allegations that Russian tycoon Dmitry Ryboloblev was defrauded out of millions by his art dealer, Yves Bouvier, who inflated or manipulated the “prices in the sale of art works.” This essentially means that the painting, among others, was sold for way more than it was worth.

3. Masterpiece by Roy Lichtenstein

Roy Lichtenstein’s “Masterpiece” is one of a kind in the sense that it looks like a comic book panel that depicts a blond woman alongside the dark-haired man who is admiring his art work. It also includes dialogue balloons with the female character exclaiming “Why, Brad darling, this painting is a masterpiece! My, soon you’ll have all of New York clamoring for your work!” And boy did they clamor, because someone was more than willing to buy the painting from the Museum of Modern Art for an astonishing $165 million. 

4. Untitled by Jean-Michel Basquiat

“Untitled” by American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat looks like graffiti sprayed on the walls on a random street in any urban city. It depicts a misshapen black skull with facial features in white, floating against a blue sky and white shapes that sort of resemble buildings. There’s even the letters “AG” in the lower-left corner of the canvas that’s supposed to mimic a tag or graffiti artist’s signature. Overall, the painting is somewhat difficult to interpret and some people like that kind of challenge. Which is probably why it was sold for $110.5 million.

5. Flag by Jasper Johns

American abstract expressionist Jasper Johns based his work on a dream he had the night before painting it. It may also have had something to do with the fact that he was a recently discharged soldier. The 48-star painting of the American flag is often compared to Belgian surrealist Rene Magritte’s Ceci n’est pas une pipe (this is not a pipe), though the two differ greatly. Jasper’s painting is said to collapse the differences between reality and illusion while Rene’s enforces the boundary between the two. In 2010, over 50 years into its existence, Flag was sold for an estimated $100 million at a private sale.


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