11 of Vincent Van Gogh’s Most Expensive Paintings Ever Sold

November 14, 2023

You don’t often stumble upon an original Vincent van Gogh painting — even if you’re ready to shell out $100 million to buy one. 

Most of his artworks are sold in private for record-breaking amounts, and just a few of them are seen at auction events. 

His most expensive artwork, Orchard with Cypresses, sold for $117.2 million at Christie’s New York in 2022. Before the sale, it belonged to the late Paul G. Allen

A Van Gogh painting typically comes alive with deep symbolism, unique painting techniques and a great sense of color. 

Let’s look at Vincent van Gogh’s 11 most expensive paintings. We’ll look deeper into his life and work and also show you a few famous paintings by other master artists.

We’ll also tell you how you can easily invest in shares of art through Masterworks. 

Note: Some of these paintings have been resold for lower amounts. We’ve mentioned only the highest prices recorded for these paintings.

1. Orchard with Cypresses (1888)  

Verger avec cyprès (1888) by Vincent van Gogh
  • Original name in French: Verger avec cyprès (1888)
  • Price and year of sale: $117.2 million, 2022  
  • Seller: Paul G. Allen Estate
  • Buyer: Anonymous

The most expensive Van Gogh painting ever to go on sale, Orchard with Cypresses was painted in Arles in 1988. 

The late Paul Allen acquired the painting in 1998, and it remained in his collection for over 24 years. The painting is vibrant, with shades of green, blue and red, showcasing a fenced orchard with cypress trees in the background. 

Orchard with Cypresses will be a centerpiece at the Van Gogh Cypresses exhibition to be held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art from May-August 2023.

2. Portrait of Dr Paul Gachet 

Portrait du Docteur Gachet (1890) by Vincent van Gogh
  • Original name in French: Portrait du Docteur Gachet (1890)
  • Price and year of sale: $82.5 million, 1990  
  • Seller: Siegfried Kramarsky heirs 
  • Buyer: Ryoei Saito

The Portrait of Dr Paul Gachet is the second most expensive Vincent van Gogh artwork ever sold. 

Doctor Gachet became close friends with Van Gogh, as he treated the artist in the last few months of his life. 

The melancholic portrait depicts Dr Gachet with his head propped on his hand and his elbow resting on a red table, next to two yellow books and a foxglove plant. 

The painting was sold at an auction at Christie’s, New York City, to Ryoei Saito.

It’s rumored that after Ryoei Saito passed away in 1996, this expensive Van Gogh painting exchanged hands twice in private sales. 

Fun fact: Van Gogh created two versions of the Doctor Gachet painting. The second edition is displayed at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

3. Laborer in a Field

Laboureur Dans Un Champ (1889) by Vincent van Gogh
  • Original name in French: Laboureur Dans Un Champ (1889)
  • Price and year of sale: $81.3 million, 2017  
  • Seller: Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass estate
  • Buyer: Anonymous

Laborer in a Field was part of a series of paintings Vincent van Gogh created at the asylum near Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. It was sold at an auction at Christie’s, New York City.

The inspiration for this artwork was the view from Van Gogh’s room. 

This expensive painting depicts a worker plowing the soil in the wheat fields near the asylum. Painted with short blue and yellow strokes, the field has a seascape-like nature, creating a sense of movement. 

The painting is one of the last works of Vincent van Gogh.

4. Self-portrait Without a Beard

Portrait de l’artiste Sans Barbe (1889) by Vincent van Gogh
  • Original name in French: Portrait de l’artiste Sans Barbe (1889)
  • Price and year of sale: $72 million, 1998
  • Seller: Jacques Koerfer’s heirs
  • Buyer: Anonymous

Vincent van Gogh’s self-portraits are rare and highly valued by art collectors. 

Historians believe that the unique Self-portrait Without a Beard is his final self-portrait. 

Vincent van Gogh painted it shortly after mutilating his ear, which was triggered by a fall-out with fellow artist Paul Gauguin. 

The painting conveys the artist’s mental state — his expression is one of sadness, helplessness and vulnerability, emphasized by his beardless, boyish face. 

Van Gogh gifted the painting to his mother on her 70th birthday.

This expensive Van Gogh painting has been in a private European collection since its sale over 24 years ago at Christie’s New York City.

You can find other versions of Van Gogh’s self-portraits at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.  

5. Wooden Cabins among the Olive Trees and Cypresses

Cabanes de bois parmi les oliviers et cyprès (1889) by Vincent van Gogh
  • Original name in French: Cabanes de bois parmi les oliviers et cyprès (1889)
  • Price and year of sale: $71.4 million, 2021  
  • Seller: Edwin L. Cox
  • Buyer: Anonymous

This is one of Van Gogh’s most recent sales — it was sold at a Christie’s New York auction for $71m in November 2021 to an anonymous buyer. 

The painting depicts the wooden cabins visible from Van Gogh’s room at the San Rémy asylum. The exuberant colors Van Gogh uses to depict the turquoise sky and sunlit landscape convey a sense of optimism. 

This artwork is part of a painting series on olive trees that aim to depict the cycle of life. 

6. The Avenue of Les Alyscamps

L’Allée des Alyscamps (1888) by Vincent van Gogh
  • Original name in French: L’Allée des Alyscamps (1888)
  • Price and year of sale: $66.3 million, 2015
  • Seller: Anonymous
  • Buyer: Anonymous 

Van Gogh completed this painting in 1888 after his friend and fellow painter, Paul Gauguin, arrived in Arles for a collaboration. 

Gauguin also painted a version of this artwork, showcasing couples on evening strolls through Les Alyscamps (fondly known as the “lovers’ lane” during the fall season). 

In 2003, this expensive painting sold at a Christie’s New York auction for $12m. But in 2015, a buyer at Sotheby’s New York paid over five times the previous sale amount. 

7. Poppies and Daisies

Nature morte, Vase aux marguerites et coquelicots (1890) by Vincent van Gogh
  • Original name in French: Nature morte, Vase aux marguerites et coquelicots (1890) 
  • Price and year of sale: $61.7 million, 2014  
  • Seller: Anonymous
  • Buyer: Wang Zhongjun

Created in June 1890, this expensive Van Gogh painting depicts a vibrant bouquet of poppies, daisies and cornflowers. 

It’s full of emotion, emitting a visually transcendent experience. Vincent van Gogh painted Poppies and Daisies during the pinnacle of his career and just a few weeks before his tragic death.  

Modern art historians think Van Gogh painted this at the house of Dr Gachet in exchange for the treatment he received. 

This painting sold for $62m at an auction at Sotheby’s New York.

8. Portrait of Joseph Roulin

Portrait de Joseph Roulin (1889) by Vincent van Gogh
  • Original name in French: Portrait de Joseph Roulin (1889)
  • Price and year of sale: $58 million and other works, 1989
  • Seller: Private collection, Zürich
  • Buyer: The Museum of Modern Art

Joseph Roulin, a postman in Arles, was a very close companion of Van Gogh — and this portrait is a testament to their friendship. It shows Roulin in his blue postman uniform against a green floral background.   

Vincent van Gogh is best known for his passion for portraits as well as his unique landscapes.

This Van Gogh portrait was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in New York through a private sale. The museum paid $58m and even traded the following artworks to obtain Joseph Roulin’s portrait:

  • Corona (Water Lilies) by Claude Monet (1920)
  • Reclining Nude by Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1902)
  • Autumn Landscape, Murnau by Wassily Kandinsky (1908)
  • Striped Bodice by Pablo Picasso (1943)

9. A Wheatfield with Cypresses

Champ de blé avec cyprès (1889) by Vincent van Gogh
  • Original name in French: Champ de blé avec cyprès (1889)
  • Price and year of sale: $57 million, 1993  
  • Seller: Dieter Bührle
  • Buyer: Metropolitan Museum of Art

A Wheatfield with Cypresses is one of Van Gogh’s most famous paintings. The inspiration for the scene was the view from his room in Arles. 

This expensive painting shows a field in front of the Alpilles mountain range, a golden wheat plantation and a few cypress and olive trees in the background.

Walter Annenberg donated this artwork to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Another version of this painting is housed at the National Gallery in London.

10. Irises

Les Iris (1889) by Vincent van Gogh
  • Original name in French: Les Iris (1889)
  • Price and year of sale: $53.9 million, 1987  
  • Seller: John Whitney Payson
  • Buyer: Alan Bond

Irises is considered the first painting created by Van Gogh while he was at the asylum. Art experts say Van Gogh developed an attraction to iris flowers due to their symbolism and healing properties. 

Although the New York Times reported Alan Bond had purchased the painting, he had difficulties paying the agreed sum after the auction. So, Sotheby’s New York sold this expensive Van Gogh painting to the J. Paul Getty Museum for an amount close to the original auction price. 

Another version of Irises is housed at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

11. Sunflowers

Tournesols (1889) by Vincent van Gogh
  • Original name in French: Tournesols (1889)
  • Price and year of sale: $39.7 million, 1987
  • Seller: Helen Chester Beatty Estate
  • Buyer: Yasuo Goto

This is the seventh version of the sunflowers series Van Gogh painted while he was at Arles. 

Vincent van Gogh planned on decorating his house with these paintings before Paul Gauguin came to Arles on a visit. Experts estimate Sunflowers will fetch several hundred million dollars if it comes back on sale.

Want to appreciate Van Gogh’s Sunflowers in person?

Other versions of the painting are exhibited at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and the National Gallery in London. 

A Deeper Look Into the Life & Works of Vincent Van Gogh

Now that we’ve looked at the 10 most expensive paintings of Van Gogh, let’s explore a few aspects of Van Gogh’s life and how they shaped his artwork.

1. What Tools & Techniques Did Vincent Van Gogh Use in His Paintings?

Although Van Gogh used limited color in his paintings, he was able to convey the richness and intricacy of the landscapes, portraits, and nature mortes he painted.  

In his early years, Van Gogh mostly drew with three colors of chalk — black, blue and red. He also used other tools like charcoal, pencils and reed pens. 

Later in his career, he used vibrant colors and sharp details to bring to life what he saw in his daily routine. His choice of bold colors and signature brushstroke patterns still captivate art enthusiasts.

2. How Many Paintings did Vincent Van Gogh Paint During his Life?

Some estimate the total number of Van Gogh paintings at about 350, while others say it’s about 900. 

Most of his paintings were destroyed or misplaced due to the World Wars, fires, floods and other natural calamities. 

His most known works were produced in the latter years of his life — there are estimates that over 100 paintings had been created from 1888-1890.

3. When Did Vincent Van Gogh Start Painting?

Van Gogh started painting full-time in his late twenties — around 1881/1882. This is when he began showing serious interest in art.

4. What Influenced the Art Style of Vincent Van Gogh?

The earliest influences on Van Gogh’s art style were his attraction toward spirituality and the ascetic way of life. 

Later in his career, Vincent van Gogh adopted an Impressionist and Post-Impressionist style of art. This was fueled by his bouts of severe depression and attraction to natural landscapes and flora. 

So far, we’ve covered only Van Gogh’s most expensive paintings in this article.

But are you keen to know about other great artists and their masterpieces? 

15 Other Famous Artists and Some of Their Most Expensive Paintings

Here are 15 famous paintings by some of the greatest artists in history: 

ArtworkArtist, YearMedium & SizeSelling PriceYear of Sale
Salvator MundiLeonardo Da Vinci (c.1500)Oil on walnut panel,45.4 × 65.6 cm$400 million2017
InterchangeWillem de Kooning (1955)Oil paint on canvas,200.7 × 175.3 cm$300 million2015
The Card PlayersPaul Cézanne (1892/93)Oil on canvas, 47.5 × 57 cm$250 million2011
Nafea Faa Ipoipo (When Will You Marry?)Paul Gauguin (1892)Oil on canvas,101 × 77 cm$210 million2014
Number 17AJackson Pollock (1948)Oil paint on fiberboard,112 x 86.5 cm$200 million2015
Water Serpents IIGustav Klimt (1904-07)Oil on canvas,80 × 145 cm$184 million2013
No. 6 (Violet, Green and Red)Mark Rothko (1951)Oil on canvas$186 million2014
Pendant portraits of Maerten Soolmans and Oopjen CoppitRembrandt (1634)Oil on canvas, 209.5 × 135.5 cm$180 million2016
Women of Algiers (Version O)Pablo Picasso (1955)Oil on canvas,114 × 146.4 cm$179 million2015
Shot Sage Blue MarilynAndy Warhol (1964)Acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen,101.6 x 101.6 cm$195 million2022
Nu CouchéAmedeo Modigliani (1917/18)Oil on canvas,60 × 92 cm$170 million2015
Three Studies of Lucian FreudFrancis Bacon (1969)Oil on canvas,198 × 147.5 cm$142 million2013
The ScreamEdvard Munch (1895)Oil, tempera, pastel and crayon on cardboard,91 × 73.5 cm$120 million2012
HaystacksClaude Monet (1890)Oil on canvas,60 × 100 cm$111 million2019
Massacre of the InnocentsPeter Paul Ruben (1611)Oil on canvas,142 × 183 × 1.9cm$77 million2002

The vibrant landscapes of Van Gogh, abstract expressions by Jackson Pollock, and portraits like the Dora Maar by Pablo Picasso all have one thing in common: 

These pieces of fine art can fetch up to hundreds of millions at auction houses. 

However, masterpieces like Starry Night by Van Gogh and Mona Lisa by the Old Master Leonardo da Vinci have never been to an auction. Nevertheless, they’re estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars each.

If you’re an art enthusiast or an aspiring art investor, you probably wonder whether you’ll ever get to invest in such blue-chip art.

With Masterworks you can do just that.  

Invest in Shares of Art Masterpieces Through Masterworks

Masterworks is the first-ever platform that allows you to invest in shares of iconic artworks. 

Here’s how it works:

  • Masterworks identifies artists with high potential.
  • The artwork is securitized and offered to investors.
  • Anyone can trade shares of the artworks on our trading platform.
  • Alternatively, investors can wait till the painting is sold and receive their share. 

Here are a few things you should know about Masterworks:

How Does Masterworks Choose Paintings?

Masterworks purchases ‘blue-chip’ art from collectors, popular galleries and major auction houses. 

We focus on:

  • Acquiring artwork by a top 100 artist that represents their matured style of painting. 
  • Acquisitions that are available at an attractive cost relative to its value, based on estimated historical appreciation rates. 

What Happens When a Painting Is Sold?

Once artwork is sold, and the selling expenses are settled, the issuer is liquidated. If any proceeds remain, they will be distributed among the then-holders of shares according to the priorities st in Masterworks’ operating agreement.

Ready to Invest in Some of the Most Valuable Paintings?

Vincent van Gogh is an icon in the art world, and deservedly so. 

His creations still fetch millions of dollars at auction houses and serve as inspiration for many art enthusiasts around the world. 

In addition to Van Gogh’s artwork, masterpieces by contemporary art icons like Andy Warhol and Willem de Kooning are exciting pieces that you may consider adding to your portfolio.

If you want to start investing in shares of these artworks and more, check out Masterworks.

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A published financial writer based in Brooklyn, dedicated to navigating the intricate world of markets and money. I aim to dissect the complexities of finance, offering readers a clearer lens into the economic tapestry we all navigate.