The most valuable works of art are not only the famous names of artists and the enormous amounts obtained from their sale. Each of the works and collections also carries an interesting and worth knowing story. Who are their creators and how much did they cost? Creative people have a new way of looking at things, and the art market is growing all over the world. Last year, NFT digital records were also broken. Meet the extraordinary fate of the five most expensive masterpieces of 2021.
1. Pablo Picasso – “Femme assise près d’une fenêtre” – $ 103.4 million
The most expensive work in 2021 is a painting by Pablo Picasso, which was sold at Christie’s in New York for $ 103,410,000. It is a portrait of his muse and lover, the French model Marie-Thérèse Walter, entitled “Femme assise près d’une fenêtre”From 1932, measures 146 x 114 cm. The work was previously auctioned at Sotheby’s in London in 2013 and sold for $ 44.7 million; and in 1997, they were acquired for only $ 6.8 million. The last price of the painting means an increase in its value by over 1.4 thousand. percent compared to the original one.
There is a reason for creativity Pablo Picasso, is included in the lists of the most valuable works of art each year. In 2004, Sotheby’s sold “Boy with a Pipe” for $ 126.4 million, in 2010, “Nude, Green Leaves, and a Bust” for $ 112 million. In May 2006, the Sotheby’s auction house sold the painting “Dora Maar with a Cat” for $ 107.9 million, and in 2015, “Beautiful House” for $ 164.4 million. On the other hand, the self-portrait of the artist “Yo, Picasso” was paid 47.85 million dollars. – which is one of the lower prices paid for his work.
Picasso painted continuously throughout his life. He did not stop creating even on his deathbed. He left about 30 thousand. works, i.e. paintings, sculptures and ceramics. Actually, his name was Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso and he was an outstanding Spanish painter, graphic artist, sculptor, ceramist and poets. He is considered one of the most important artists in the 20th century. He and Georges Braque are the creators of the painting trend known as cubism. In 1948, the artist came to Poland, took part in the World Congress of Intellectuals in Defense of Peace in Wrocław, and also visited Warsaw, where he donated his collection of ceramics, drawings and colorful prints to the National Museum. At that time, he drew a drawing of “Mermaid” in the capital, which survived until 1953. In 2010, 271 unknown works by Picasso (collages, watercolors, gouaches, lithographs, notebooks and drawings) from 1900–1932 were found.
2. Jean-Michel Basquiat – “In This Case” – $ 93.1 million
Jean-Michel Basquiat was born in 1960 in New York, Brooklyn. This American contemporary artist was initially a graffiti artist (he was a precursor of this field), later he took up painting and was a representative of the new expressionism. Sold in 2021 for 93 million 105 thousand. $ 000 is the last of Basquiat’s iconic “Skull” paintings, which he created between 1981-1983. At Sotheby’s 2017 auction, his other painting, “Untitled,” depicting a black skull with red and yellow streams, sold for $ 110.5 million. The painting “In This Case” – measures 197.8 by 187.3 cm and comes from 1983. The combination of rich red, characteristic symbolism and of course the iconic skull motif was enough to place it beyond all the previous paintings offered by the artist.
His works were bought, among others, by Madonna, Jay-Z, Leonardo DiCaprio or Johnny Depp. If all Basquiat’s works were to be valued today, their market value would exceed several billion dollars. He sold his first 1981 painting “Cadillac Moon” to singer Debbie Harry, frontwoman of punk rock band Blondie, for $ 200. He could paint up to six works at the same time, and in his ten-year career he created about 1.5 thousand. drawings, as well as nearly 600 paintings and many sculptures and mixed works. His paintings were characterized by a combination of primitive African art, contemporary “street art”, lettering, comic-book elements and cultural archetypes.
From 1982, he regularly exhibited his works in galleries in New York. He also started dating the ambitious and then aspiring singer Madonna. In the same year he met the famous representative of pop art Andy Warhol. The cooperation that has begun resulted in a close friendship between the two artists. Together, they created over 100 paintings. However, many of his friends worried about him because of his drug addiction. The artist died in 1988 at the age of 28 from a heroin overdose, a few days before his second trip to Côte d’Ivoire.
3. Sandro Botticelli – “Portrait of a Young Man Holding a Circle” – $ 92.1 million
It is the most valuable painting of the old masters sold at Sotheby’s, “Portrait of a young man holding a circle“Sandro Botticelli, bought in January 2021 for the amount of 92 million 184 thousand. $ 000 The price is more than ten times higher than the previous record in 2013 for the works of early Renaissance painters, which was $ 10.4 million. It is estimated that because of its style, the painting was painted around 1480. The identity of the protagonist of the portrait is unknown, but experts suggest that it may have been someone from the Medici family, as Lorenzo de ‘Medici was one of its main donors and patrons. The painting is believed to represent the ideals of the beauty of Florentine society during the Renaissance. The garment, ie the tunic, is of excellent quality, and its blue color was extremely rare at the time. The work was painted with tempera paint on poplar wood and is 58.7 cm high and 38.9 cm wide. The figure of the saint in the circle was added after the portrait was painted and is considered to be Bartolomeo Bulgarini.
Sandro Botticelli is an Italian painter of the Florentine school, creating in the early “quattrocento” and the mature period of the revival, his real name was Alessandro di Mariano Filipepi and was born on March 1, 1445 in Florence. At the age of 25, he opened his own studio, where he carried out orders for wealthy families. In 1504, along with other great Florentine artists, he took part in a conference that was to determine the location of the statue of Michelangelo – “David”. At the end of his life, he created few works, and from the period between 1504 and 1510 (the year of his death), no records of the artist have survived.
Art historians speculate that the famous painting from the Sotheby’s auction ended up in the possession of an aristocratic family between 1782 and 1791, when their ancestor, Baron Thomas Winn Newborough, lived in Florence. The first mention of the masterpiece comes from 1938, when it was still in the possession of this family, ie Baron Newborough from the city of Caernarvon in Wales. Since Newborough did not know its true value, it was purchased by art dealer Frank Sabin for a relatively small amount. In 1941 he sold the famous portrait to the collector Sir Thomas Merton at a great profit. Then his descendants put it up for auction at Christie’s in London in 1982, where it was purchased for $ 1.3 million. This is how the collection of the late real estate mogul Sheldon Solow was included. The portrait was loaned to leading museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the National Gallery in London, and the Städel Museum in Frankfurt.
4. Mark Rothko – “No. 7” – $ 82.4 million
In 2021, the painting with dimensions 55.9 by 86.4 cm achieved a record result for Mark Rothko’s work, for the price of $ 82,468,500. This makes it the second most expensive sold artist in the history of this artist. The 1951 work “No. 7” was auctioned off at Sotheby’s as part of the sale of the recently divorced Harry and Linda Macklowe collections. Due to divorce proceedings, the American billionaire and his ex-wife were put up for sale around 65 highly regarded icon works, including Pollock, Rothko, Richter, Giacometti, Twombly, Andy Warhol and Lucio Fontana. In total, $ 675 million was obtained from sales. The couple have been building their collection together for nearly 60 years.
Mark Rothko is an outstanding representative “color field painting“, which is one of the main, apart from” action painting “, tendencies in American painting, developing after World War II within abstract expressionism. His real name was Marcus Rothkowitz and he was born in 1903 in Daugavpils, Latvia. his father emigrated to America, the artist was the last of four children of the Latvian-Jewish pharmacist Jakow Rothkowitz and Anna Goldin. He also strongly emphasized the role of the color plane. His canvases were often frameless, he painted over the folded edges, usually attached to the back of the stretcher. He wanted his compositions to give the illusion of an element of a larger whole, which he considered his work to be. them from a suitable distance, in a specific lighting, arrangement, assuming color range as a criterion for selecting the series. The artist died in 1970 in New York at the age of 67.
In 2012, Christie’s sold his painting “Orange, Red, Yellow” for $ 86.9 million, making it the most expensive work of modern art at the time. The canvas came from the collection of abstract expressionism, the American businessman and clothing manufacturer David Pincus. The second most expensive Rothko painting was “White Center (Yellow, Pink, Lavender)”, sold by Christie’s in 2011 for $ 72.8 million.
5. Alberto Giacometti – “Le Nez” – $ 78.3 million
The sculpture “Le Nez” (nose) from 1947 is also a work of art from the divorce collection of Harry and Linda Macklowe, which was sold at an auction at Sotheby’s for 78 million 396 thousand. $ 000 The work is made of bronze, wire and steel and has dimensions. 81.0 x 97.5 x 39.4 cm. Le Nez was sold to a 31-year-old cryptocurrency businessman who plans to donate the cannon to the NFT Foundation’s own project that focuses on creating famous works of art and artists in the blockchain environment. Justin Sun is a Chinese tech entrepreneur, founder of the TRON cryptocurrency platform and the current CEO of Rainberry. The irregularly modeled head, strongly influenced by tribal carvings, evolved in several documented incarnations until it was cast in bronze in 1964. Suspended halfway up, it hangs over a white gypsum base that strongly limits the space of the cage, pierced with the tip of the nose. This primitive aspect of the work enhances the manner of exposure.
One of the six “Walking Man” sculptures won a 2010 auction at Sotheby’s in London for over $ 104 million, a record at that time. In turn, the sculpture “The pointing man” in 2015 at Christie’s auction house sold for over $ 141 million, making it the most expensive sculpture ever sold in the world. The work “The Walking Man” and the artist’s portrait are depicted on a Swiss banknote of 100 francs. Alberto Giacometti was considered one of the pioneers of modernist sculpture on the border of expressionism and surrealism. This Swiss sculptor and painter was born in 1901 in a small village in the valley of the Bergell mountain range in Switzerland. In 1930 he had a joint exhibition with Hans Arp and Joan Miró at the Pierre Loeb gallery in Paris.
Between 1930 and 1934 he was associated with the Surrealists. At that time, he was particularly interested in the human figure and created portrait busts. After the surrealist period, he returned to painting nature, and his model was then brother Diego, who in 1925 moved to Paris and from 1927 until the artist’s death, he was in his studio a technical assistant responsible for the construction of sculptures, a founder, he was also patinating bronzes. After the war, he exhibited at Galerie Pierre Matisse in New York and signed a contract with Galerie Maeght in Paris, thanks to which he received orders for bronze sculptures. The main topic he dealt with was the portrayal of people in their existential suffering. His sculptures are monumental in form, surreal, characterized by a significant reduction in the volume of the material in favor of free space. From the end of the 1940s, a striking feature of the artist’s sculptures was their slenderness, kinetics, and rough texture.
Author © Adam Białas – NFT digital art market expert, director of BIALAS Consulting & Solutions, journalist and business journalist