The Worlds 5 Most Expensive Artworks sold at Auction by Living Artists.
Here are the five works by living artists that have fetched the highest sums at auction. The most recent broke the record in New York in May 2019!
1. Jeff Koons (b. 1955)
Price realised: USD 91,075,000
‘Rabbit’ is cast in an edition of three, plus one artist’s proof. It was the ultimate prize among six works offered at Christie’s New York from the collection of the magazine publisher S.I. Newhouse Jr., who died in 2017. The winning bid was placed by art dealer Robert E. Mnuchin who reportedly made the purchase on behalf of a client.
Jeff Koons’s Rabbit has become one of the most iconic works of 20th-century art. Standing at just over 3ft high, the stainless-steel casting of an inflatable rabbit is instantly recognizable. It has been on the cover of books, exhibition catalogues and magazines. A monumental blow-up version even featured in the 2007 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
2. David Hockney (b. 1937)
Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures), 1972
Price realised: USD 90,312,500
David Hockney’s reign as world’s most expensive living artist only lasted a little over six months. His 1972 “Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)” was sold for $90,3 million at Christie’s auction in New York in 2018.
This work has become one of his most celebrated and recognisable images. It has appeared in numerous retrospectives, and in 2017 was the cover image for the catalogue accompanying Tate Britain’s retrospective, David Hockney (which toured to the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Met in New York). The show attracted almost half a million people, becoming Tate’s most visited exhibition ever. Its auction result, nearly tripled Hockney’s past record of $28.4 million, by Pacific Coast Highway and Santa Monica (1990). Also, it marked the fourth new auction record for Hockney set within two years, amidst the major traveling retrospective of his work.
3. Jeff Koons (b. 1955)
Orange Balloon Dog, 1994-2000
Price realised: USD 58,405,000
In 2013 another Koons sculpture, “Balloon Dog (Orange)” made history for the sale of a work by a living artist by fetching $58.4 million at Christie’s, New York. At three metres high, it is part of the “Celebration” series and one of five different-coloured sculptures of dogs that appear to be made from balloons released over 1994 to 2000 and have become icons of contemporary art.
Other pups have been on display around the world and in private collections. The yellow version is owned by Steven A. Cohen, The Broad in Los Angeles has the Blue one, the Magenta is with François Pinault, while Dakis Joannou’s DESTE Foundation is home to the Red version.
4. Gerhard Richter (b. 1932)
Abstraktes Bild, 1986
Price realised: USD 46,303,719
The work, painted in 1986 and called Abstraktes Bild, went under the hammer at Sotheby’s in London in 2015. Standing at 300.5cm by 250.5cm, the auctioneers had described it as “one of the largest abstract paintings by the artist and certainly one of his most chromatically astounding”.
Art experts said there was huge interest in the painting because it is not only one of Richter’s biggest works but also one of his favourites. The canvas is the product of Richter’s careful build-up of paint, which is then pulled away with a piece of wood to produce a colourful, multi-layered image. During the 1990s, Richter had personally asked that the painting go on extended loan to the Museum Ludwig, Cologne.
5. Cui Ruzhuo (b. 1944)
The Grand Snowing Mountains, 2013
Price realised: USD 39,086,93
A renowned Chinese impressionist painter, Ruzhuo is praised for his talent to combine ancient influences with modern techniques, focusing on traditional brushwork and atmosphere of ink painting. Cui Ruzhuo’s eight panel masterpiece was snapped up for a record $39.6 million (almost double the estimated price), at Poly Auction Hong Kong in 2016, setting an auction record for a living Asian artist.