Most Expensive Artworks Sold at Auction

About the Series
While the art market may fluctuate based on a variety of economic, political, and social factors, even in slow years, a few dozen works always rise above the fray to bring in eye-popping, record-smashing, eight- and nine-digit sums at auction. Though they don’t necessarily tell us much about the overall health of the market, these pricey works are indicators of the kinds of trophies the top one percent of collectors are after—be they motivated by passion, a sense that it’s a wise investment, or both. Here, we’ve gathered lists of the most valuable works sold at auction each year. Taken together, they offer snapshots of the dominant market narratives playing out annually, and a sense of shifting tastes among blue-chip collectors.