Who are the best-selling fine artists of all time? Artalistic, a leading online art gallery, brings you a list of the greatest artists in history in terms of number of sales and record-breaking prices. This article will also focus on sales from the past few years, especially digital contemporary art such as NFTs.

Best-selling artists and record-breaking sales

The art market has boomed over the past few years with rare or never-before-seen sales. As we will see in the second part of this article, these best-selling artists are not all from the contemporary art field.

Some classical pieces have been resold recently, breaking records for the most expensive pieces ever sold to this date, as seen in the following list:

Ranking of best-selling artists of all time

From Leonard de Vinci to Willem De Kooning, Gauguin, Cézanne, Modigliani, Picasso and Andy Warhol, the following lists the world’s best-selling artists of all time. Ranked according to the price the paintings sold for:

1. Salvator Mundi, Leonard de Vinci (1500), sold for 450 million dollars in 2017

2. When Will You Marry, Paul Gauguin (1892), sold for 300 million dollars in 2015

3. Interchange, Willem De Kooning (1955), sold for 300 million dollars in 2015

4. The Card Players, Paul Cézanne (1892), sold for 274 million dollars in 2011

5. Shot Sage Blue Marylin, Andy Warhol (1964), sold for 195 million dollars in 2022

6. Women of Algiers, Pablo Picasso (1955), sold for 180 million dollars in 2015

7. Nu couché (Reclining Nude), Amedeo Modigliani (1917), sold for 170 million dollars in 2015

8. Woman III, Willem De Kooning (1952), sold for 159 million dollars in 2006

9. Nu couché (Reclining Nude), Amedeo Modigliani (1917), sold for 157 million dollars in 2018

10. The Dream, Pablo Picasso (1932), sold for 155 million dollars in 2013

Other best-selling artists in this category

We would like to cite a few more best-selling artists from this category: Gustav Klimt (Portrait of Adèle Bloch-Bauer I), Vincent Van Gogh (Portrait of Dr Gachet), Roy Lichtenstein (Nurse), Edvard Munch (The Scream) or Jean-Michel Basquiat (In This Case). The Fondation Louis Vuitton will be featuring a show on Basquiat in 2023 that should attract a large crowd. All of the artists listed above appear on lists of the world’s top 20 best-selling artists of all time.

2021 and 2022’s best-selling artists

Over the last ten years, the art market has been experiencing constant and substantial growth. While the number of sales is increasing, these figures are highly influenced by the sale of certain pieces that are going for colossal sums. The following data collected over the last few years is proof of this trend:

Record-breaking sales for fine art in 2021

The following lists the best-selling artists in 2021:

1. Pablo Picasso: 3,452 lots sold for 671 million dollars

2. Jean-Michel Basquiat: 104 lots sold for 439 million dollars

3. Andy Warhol: 1586 lots sold for 348 million dollars

4. Claude Monet: 26 lots sold for 305 million dollars

5. Gerhard Richter: 298 lots sold for 246 million dollars

6. Zhang Daqian: 467 lots sold for 240 million dollars

7. Vincent Van Gogh: 24 lots sold for 235 million dollars

8. Banksy: 1,186 lots sold for 205 million dollars

9. Cy Twombly: 87 lots sold for 182 million dollars

10. Yayoi Kusama: 778 lots sold for 178 million dollars

If you tally up this Top 10 list it equals a total sales value of over $3 billion!

Record-breaking sales for fine art in 2022

All of the data for 2022 is not available yet, but the observable trend underlines the art market’s constant activity. Best-selling artists continue to sell work at a steady pace.

Case in point, the famous and highly-rated Paul Cézanne’s (1839-1906) Montagne Sainte-Victoire sold for 137 million dollars. Cézanne painted several versions of this mountain located in Aix-en-Provence, France.  

Off the chart sales of Seurat paintings

We must mention Georges Seurat's painting, The Models, which sold at Christie's for nearly $150 million - last year’s record sale. This piece is considered a masterpiece of pointillism.

Finally, Pop Art continues to be popular among collectors, as seen with Andy Warhol’s undeniable and seemingly unwavering popularity. This eternal idol’s painting Shot Sage Blue Marilyn was already mentioned in our ranking of the best-selling artists of all time.

Invest with Artalistic: the online art gallery with an ever-expanding following

Investing in fine art isn’t just for the elite. Our online galleries feature countless unique and interesting pieces from well-established and emerging artists, including: paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures and limited-edition prints. Who knows, the artists whose work you fall in love with might be the next Warhol or Basquiat!

If you are an artist or if you have works of art that you would like to sell, feel free to contact us. We will be more than happy to show you the ins and outs of our online sales platform. For example, we can assist you with estimating your artwork’s value. Our team of experts can also give you advice that can help you meet your goals and network with potential buyers.