The premium lifestyle magazine “Complex” has recently compiled a list of 15 of the world's wealthiest living artists.
This list only includes estimates measured from identifiable wealth that includes land, property, art and shares in publicly quoted companies, this list focuses on artists and guesstimates made on how much they earn from actual art sales. Although John Baldessari, Ed Ruscha, Kaws, Jose Parla, Barry McGee, Fernando Botero, Claes Oldenburg, Banksy, Nan Goldin, and Gilbert & George make lots of sales, it wasn’t enough to make the list.
Not even super polymath Bruce Nauman (who’s currently #1 on the Artfacts.net list, with Damien Hirst is #29), Julian Schnabel (having lots of real estate and making films doesn’t count), Brice Marden (he owns a huge chunk of SoHo and other property), Sean Scully (like Johns, Marden, and recently deceased Freud, Scully is one of the very few living artists to have a retrospective at the MOMA and MET), and Frank Stella (who can command almost a cool $3 million for certain works) made it.
Estimated Worth: $1 Billion
Damien Hirst is the the world’s richest artist, but also making him the #1 Google search result when you type in #worldsrichestlivingartist.
The 2009 Sunday Times Rich List estimated Hirst’s fortune to be $388 million, but apparently it’s now over the billion characters in U.S. Dollars. In 2008, he raised $198 million through selling a complete show, “Beautiful Inside My Head Forever,” breaking the record for a single-artist auction and set his rank in the art hierarchy as “Sell Out #1” by passing his galleries and going straight to Sotheby’s auction block. The diamond encrusted platinum skull “For the Love of God” sold for $77.9 million in 2007.
Estimated Worth: $500 Million
An art world “superstar” known for almost bankrupting Jeffrey Deitch in the 1990s for his “Celebration” series. Koons started out in a SoHo loft and now works out of a factory-studio in Chelsea with 120+ staff.
Estimated Worth: $300 Million
Johns currently holds the title for the most expensive painting by a living artist.
Estimated Worth: $200 Million
A street artist who painted the Facebook HQ back in 2005, who ranks in fourth place as the artist was paid in stocks that might become worth $200 Million USD, after Facebook’s IPO and official stock market listing.
Estimated Worth: $142 Million
In 2004, Vicari was Britain’s richest living painter, and there's no doubt his value has depreciated over the years. He combined his fortune painting portraits of the rich and famous for decades, he was once the official painter of the King and of the Saudi Arabian government. In 2001 he sold a collection of his works including 125 paintings to Prince Khaled for £17 million ($27 million). He also has three museums in the Middle East that are solely dedicated to his work.
Japanese Superflat Artist
Estimated Worth: $100 Million
With his 100+ employees working on paintings, sculptures, Louis Vuitton bags, inflatable balloons, videos, toys, his philosophy “maximum output is key”. His MoCA exhibit in L.A. following his Louis Vuitton collaboration in 2007 was titled, © Murakami and featured a LV pop-up store. Hip-hop (Kanye West CD cover and music video, Pharrell collaboration selling for more than $2 million at Art Basel in Switzerland) made Murakami the fortune that he is graced with today.
Estimated Worth: $85 Million
In 2010, Anish Kapoor a Turner Prize winning sculptor is featured on the Sunday Times Rich List with an estimated £45 million ($71 million).
Estimated Worth: $50 Million
Estimated Worth: $40 Million
Richter’s stunning photorealistic paintings saw records sales in 2011 with a 1997 painting estimated at $9 to $12 million selling for a record price of $20.8 million and another painting from 1987, which sold in 2001 for $783,106, bringing in $18 million, more than twice its high estimate of $7.5 million.
Estimated Worth: $40 Million
One of the most influential British artists of the twentieth century and an important contributor to the Pop art movement in the 1960s, Hockney continues to push the limits of his art. In 2009, his “Beverly Hills Housewife”, a portrait of an art patron - Betty Freeman, featuring a William Turnbull statue sold at Christie’s for over $8 million. He debuted a show last month at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, and even painted some of it on an iPad.
Estimated Worth: $35 Million
Photographer Cindy Sherman’s imaginative works are the second, Untitled #96 (1981), $3,890,500; and fifth, Untitled #153 (1985), $2.7 million, most expensive photographs in the world.
Estimated Worth: $30 Million
His collaborations with Louis Vuitton and Supreme have elevated Richard Prince to a new level in the consumer levels - the street culture/fashion blogosphere. His Nurse series painting went for a stunning $6 to $8 million per piece in 2008. And his photography; Untitled (Cowboy) (1989) sold for $1,248,000 in 2005.
Estimated Worth: $30 Million
Gurskey sold Rhein II (1999) for $4,338,500 at Christie’s and proceeded to do an interpretive dance proclaiming himself “KING and Undisputed Champion of the Most Expensive Photograph in the World” to celebrate. He then went to Serendipity and bought the World’s Most Expensive Dessert, a $25,000 chocolate sundae and called it a day.
Estimated Worth: $25 Million
Even though Chuck Close may be confined to a wheelchair due to a spinal artery collapse that left him with limited motion due to severe paralysis, he continues to roll out amazing large-scale portraits that are highly sought after, with works selling anywhere from $150,000 to $5 million.
German Neo-Expressionist/Post-Modern painter
Estimated Worth: $20 Million
50 years of painting has made him one of the bestselling living artists, and multiply that by $2 to $3 million a painting, as well as his 30 years’ worth of sculptures.
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