The 10 most expensive paintings of all time

As a Jean-Michel Basquiat work becomes the first post-1980 piece to break the $100m mark...

The 10 most expensive paintings of all time
Jean-Michel Basquiat's 1982 painting Untitled sold for $110.5 million at Sotheby's in New York on Thursday, May 18, 2017, to become the sixth most expensive work ever sold at auction. Only 10 other works have broken the $100 million mark. Picture by: Roth TJ/SIPA USA/PA Images

A multi-coloured skull of spray paint, acrylic and oil stick, imagined and then splashed into canvas life by a troubled Haitian-American who was done in by a speedball at the age of 27 nearly three decades ago.

The unlikely ingredients, right there, for a "mind-blowing" transaction of nearly €100 million.
Jean-Michel is too far beyond this mortal coil to enjoy any of the earthly delights $110.5m can buy you in 2017, but that's how much a Japanese ecommerce mogul parted with for one of his typically vibrant, neo-expressionistic pieces this.
The sale went down in Sotheby's, New York, on Thursday and marked the first time a canvas conceived after 1980 went for more than $100m.
It was not the only record the painting that last went for a relatively-miniscule $19,000 broke in the process.
Thanks to the 41-year-old Yusaku Maezawa, the untitled piece is now the the most valuable by a black artist and almost doubles the second-highest amount forked out for a Basquiat original.
For his part, Maezawa seemed delighted to have emerged the victor in an intense 10-minute bidding war, taking to Instagram to promise to share his newly-acquired piece with the public.

In the grandest scheme of things, whilst Basquiat's skull joins the extremely exclusive 'Hundred Million Dollar Club', it still doesn't come close to being the most expensive painting of all time.
So what exactly are the 10 most expensive works? Here's the (known) list that racked up figures high enough to make your nose bleed at the mere thought...

10. 'Three Studies Of Lucian Freud' - Francis Bacon 

This 1969 triptych sold for £142.4m in 2013. Elaine Wynn, cofounder of the Wynn Casino empire, was the one earning the right to hang them on her walls.

9. No. 5, 1948 - Jackson Pollock

The first but not last work from the famous splatter merchant on this list, US billionaire Steven A. Cohen was the one reaching for his wallet when he agreed to spend $140m on this Pollock.

8. Nu CouchĂ© - Amedeo Modigliani

Getting erotic, Reclining Nude was completed by Italian painter Amedeo Modigliani in 1917. It sold for $170m in November 2015.

7. Version O - Pablo Picasso

From the Les Femmes d’Alger series (also known as Women of Algiers), Version O. fetched $179.4m at Christie's New York two years ago.

6. Pendant Portraits of Marten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit - Rembrandt

Going Dutch and getting a bit more classical, these portraits of married couple Oopjen Coppit and Marten Soolmans earned the Rothschild family €160m. The Rijksmuseum and the Louvre split the cost.

5. No. 6 (Violet, Green and Red) - Mark Rothko

Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev spent $186m on this abstract expressionist work, setting a record for a painting created on US soil.

4. Number 17A - Jackson Pollock

Hedge fund billionaire Kenneth C Griffin was certainly in the mood for splashing the cash when he dropped $200m on this 1948 abstract last year, as you'll see when the list reaches its conclusion...

3. The Card Players - Paul CĂ©zanne

The first of five in a late-period series on working class pastimes by the French post-impressionist was painted in the 1890s and went for $259m over a century later.

2. Nafea Faa Ipoipo? (or When Will You Marry?) - Paul Gauguin

This 1892 oil painting from the French post-impressionist artist changed hands privately in 2015 for roughly $300m with the Qatar royal family confirmed as the proud (if quiet) owners.

1. Interchange Willem de Kooning

Griffin snapped up this 1955 oil on canvas work for roughly $300m in 2016 – and threw another $200m at the David Geffen Foundation for Jackson Pollock's Number 17A while he was at it.