The highest known price paid for an artwork by a living artist was for Jasper Johns's 1958 painting Flag. Its 2010 private sale price was estimated to be about US$110 million ($148 million in 2022 dollars).
This is a list of highest prices ever paid—at auction or private sale—for an artwork by an artist living at time of sale.
(in millions of USD)
(in millions of USD)
|148||110||Flag||Jasper Johns||2010||Private sale|||
|104||91.1||Rabbit||Jeff Koons||May 2019||Christie's|||
|105||90.3||Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)||David Hockney||November 2018||Christie's|||
|116||80||False Start||Jasper Johns||October 2006||Private sale|||
|62||62||The Journey of Humanity||Sacha Jafri||March 2021||Humanity Inspired Royal Charity Auction, Dubai[note 1]|||
|73||58.4||Balloon Dog (Orange)||Jeff Koons||November 2013||Christie's|||
This is a list of progressive records of the highest price ever paid at auction for the work of an artist who was living at time of sale. As a progressive record listing, it only lists auctions records that topple the previous best. The current record price is US$91 million for Jeff Koons's 1986 sculpture, Rabbit, set in 2019. The current record price for a painting is $90 million for David Hockney's 1972 Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures), set the prior year.
(in millions of USD)
(in millions of USD)
|91.82||91.1||Rabbit||Jeff Koons||May 2019||Christie's|||
|92.48||90.3||Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)||David Hockney||November 2018||Christie's|||
|64.68||58.4||Balloon Dog (Orange)||Jeff Koons||November 2013||Christie's|||
|41.11||37.1||Domplatz, Mailand||Gerhard Richter||May 2013||Sotheby's|||
|38.16||34.2||Abstraktes Bild (809-4) (1994)||Gerhard Richter||October 2012||Sotheby's|||
|40.03||33.6||Benefits Supervisor Sleeping||Lucian Freud||May 2008||Christie's|||
|28.98||23.6||Hanging Heart (Magenta/Gold)||Jeff Koons||November 2007||Sotheby's|||
|23.91||19.3||Lullaby Spring||Damien Hirst||June 2007||Sotheby's|||
|36.48||17||False Start||Jasper Johns||November 1988||Sotheby's|||
|15.02||7||White Flag||Jasper Johns||November 1988||Christie's|||
|9.18||4.18||Diver||Jasper Johns||May 1988||Christie's|||
|8.28||3.63 (tied)||Pink Lady||Willem de Kooning||May 1987||Sotheby's|||
|8.49||3.63 (tied)||Out the Window||Jasper Johns||November 1986||Sotheby's|||
|3.23||1.2||Two Women||Willem de Kooning||May 1982||Christie's|||
|2.19||0.8||L'Enigme du Desir/Ma Mere, Ma Mere, Ma Mere||Salvador Dalí||March 1982||Christie's|||
|4.13||0.53||Mother and Child||Pablo Picasso||April 1967||Sotheby's|||
|1.88||0.22||Death of Harlequin/Woman in a Garden||Pablo Picasso||1962||Sotheby's|||
|1.34||0.15 (tied)||La Belle Hollandaise||Pablo Picasso||May 1959||Sotheby's|||
|1.34||0.15 (tied)||Mother and Child||Pablo Picasso||November 1958||Sotheby's|||
|0.066||Friedland, 1807||Ernest Meissonier||March 1887||Stewart estate sale|||
|0.045||Les Communiantes||Jules Breton||May 1886||Mary J. Morgan estate sale|||
Johns's 'False Start' was sold for $10 million more than his White Flag had brought at Christie's, establishing a new high for a work by a living artist.
Jasper Johns's ghostlike 'White Flag,' ... was sold last night at Christie's for $7 million, the highest price ever paid for a work by a living artist.
... Jasper Johns's fiercely compelling Diver, from 1962, which brought $4.2 million last Tuesday at Christie's, ... was an auction record for a work by any living artist.
Willem de Kooning's 'Pink Lady' from 1944 tied the record at auction for a contemporary painting and for a work by a living artist when it was sold last night for $3.63 million at Sotheby's.
Jasper Johns's boldly colored and Expressionistic 'Out the Window,' from 1959, was sold last night for the highest price ever paid at auction for a work by a living artist ...
At Christie's in New York City last week, the house applauded enthusiastically as the gavel went down on Abstract Expressionist Willem de Kooning's Two Women. Reason: a price of $1.2 million, the most money paid for a work by a living artist.
Christie's, the auctioneer, said the price for 'Ma Mere,' French for 'My Mother,' was a record auction figure for a living artist.
A Picasso painting brought the highest price ever paid for a work by a living artist. ... At Sotheby & Co., $532,000 was paid for an early Picasso, a 1902 'Mother and Child,' of the artist's Blue Period. ... The Picasso ran far ahead of the former record-holder, 'Death of Harlequin,' which brought $198,000 at Sotheby's in 1962. ... It was pointed out that possibly more may have been paid at a private sale for a work by the Spanish master.
At Sotheby's auction house last week, Picasso's down-and-out souvenir, Mother and Child by the Sea, brought the highest price ever paid for a work by a living artist: $532,000, more than double the previous record, also held by Picasso, whose Death of Harlequin sold in 1962 for $224,000.
Picasso's 'Death of Harlequin' from 1905 sold for $224,000, a record at auction for a work by a living artist, at a much publicized 1962 auction of W. Somerset Maugham's collection at Sotheby's in London.
The 35 paintings went for $1,466,864, including $244,000—the highest price ever paid at auction for a living artist—for a Picasso curiosity that showed The Death of Harlequin on one side and Woman Seated in a Garden on the other.
A painting of a nude Dutch girl ... was auctioned off here today for £55,000 ($154,000) — the highest bid ever made anywhere for the work of a living artist. ... 'La Belle Hollandaise,' ... The latest sale bested the record brought by another Picasso, 'Mother and Child,' according to Sotheby's.
The top price of $152,000 was paid... for a 1903 Picasso, 'Mother and Child.' It is a record price for a Picasso sold at auction.
In 1887 the world of art was astonished when Judge Hilton, of New York City, paid $66,000 for Meissonier's Friedland—1807, at the sale of the A. T. Stewart collection in Chickering Hall. That was the highest price ever paid for a painting at public sale anywhere in the world up to that time.
Johns' works bring high prices in private sales too. The Whitney Museum of American Art in 1980 paid $1 million--a stunning price at the time--for his "Three Flags" painting in a private transaction.
In 1890, the year before Meissonier's death, Alfred Chauchard, owner of the Grands Magasins du Louvre, an enormous department store in the Rue de Rivoli, paid a staggering 850,000 francs when The Campaign of France, formerly owned by Gaston Delahante, came onto the market. ... This stratospheric price made The Campaign of France the most expensive painting ever purchased during the nineteenth century, by a painter either living or dead.