Here Are the 15 Most Expensive Artworks Sold Around the World in January 2023

The top lots were dominated by Old Master artworks sold at Christie's and Sotheby's marquee auctions.

Sotheby's sale of Old Masters in New York on January 26, 2023. Image courtesy Sotheby's.

In the first month of 2023, everything old was new again. All of the top 15 most expensive lots sold at auction came from Old Masters sales at Sotheby’s and Christie’s. The two houses each achieved white glove sales, with Christie’s bringing in $62.8 million and Sotheby’s raking in an impressive $86.6 million, totals not seen in this market for years.

“There is little question that new buyers are beginning to recognize the fundamental value in Old Masters,” veteran art dealer Robert Simon told Eileen Kinsella, “especially in contrast to contemporary art.”

After a short-lived “failed experiment” to move its Old Masters sales to April, Christie’s returned to its traditional January slot, helping to bolster the sales as marquee calendar events. A handful of artists achieved new records at auction, including Peter Paul Rubens for the grisly depiction of Salome presented with the head of Saint John the Baptist, which fetched the top price of the month at $26.9 million. Other notable lots include Francisco Goya’s double portrait, which sold for $16.4 million, comfortably within its presale estimate of $15 to $20 million, doubling the artist’s previous auction record of just $7.6 million.

Canaletto’s painting of the Rialto Bridge in Venice came from the collection of late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, and was held back from the “Visionary” sale staged at Christies last November. The work sold for just $2.7 million, which Old Masters expert Milo Dickinson noted was a testament to the power of context, as it surely would have achieved significantly more money if sold among the other Allen masterpieces.

Below, see the full list of the top 15 most expensive works sold at auction in January 2023.

 

1.Peter Paul Rubens, Salome presented with the head of Saint John the Baptist

Sir Peter Paul Rubens, Salome presented with the head of Saint John the Baptist Image courtesy Sotheby's.

Sir Peter Paul Rubens, Salome presented with the head of Saint John the Baptist. Image courtesy Sotheby’s.

Estimate: $25 million to $35 million

Final Price: $26.9 million

Where & When: Sotheby’s New York, January 26, 2023

 

2. Francisco Goya, Portrait of Doña María Vicenta Barruso Valdés, seated on a sofa with a lap-dog; and Portrait of her mother Doña Leonora Antonia Valdés de Barruso, seated on a chair holding a fan

Francisco Goya, <I>Portrait of Doña María Vicenta Barruso Valdés, seated on a sofa with a lap-dog; and Portrait of her mother Doña Leonora Antonia Valdés de Barruso, seated on a chair holding a fan</I>. Courtesy of Christie's Images, Ltd.

Francisco Goya, Portrait of Doña María Vicenta Barruso Valdés, seated on a sofa with a lap-dog; and Portrait of her mother Doña Leonora Antonia Valdés de Barruso, seated on a chair holding a fan. Courtesy of Christie’s Images, Ltd.

Estimate: $15 million to $20 million

Final Price: $16.4 million

Where & When: Christie’s New York, January 25, 2023

 

3. Bronzino, Portrait of a young man with a quill and a sheet of paper, possibly a self-portrait

Bronzino, <I>Portrait of a young man with a quill and a sheet of paper, possibly a self-portrait</I>. Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Bronzino, Portrait of a young man with a quill and a sheet of paper, possibly a self-portrait. Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Estimate: $3 million to $5 million

Final Price: $10.6 million

Where & When: Sotheby’s New York, January 26, 2023

 

4. Orazio Gentileschi, Penitent Saint Mary Magdalene

Orazio Gentileschi, <I>Penitent Saint Mary Magdalene</I>. Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Orazio Gentileschi, Penitent Saint Mary Magdalene. Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Estimate: $4 million to $6 million

Final Price: $4.9 million

Where & When: Sotheby’s New York, January 26, 2023

 

5. Valentin de Boulogne, Christ crowned with thorns

Valentin de Boulogne, <I>Christ crowned with thorns</I>. Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Valentin de Boulogne, Christ crowned with thorns. Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Estimate: $4 million to $6 million

Final Price: $4.89 million

Where & When: Sotheby’s New York, January 26, 2023

 

6. Joseph Mallord William Turner, Pope’s Villa at Twickenham

J.M.W. Turner, <I>Pope's Villa at Twickenham</I>. Courtesy of Christie's Images, Ltd.

J.M.W. Turner, Pope’s Villa at Twickenham. Courtesy of Christie’s Images, Ltd.

 

Estimate: $4 million to $6 million

Final Price: $4.62 million

Where & When: Christie’s New York, January 25, 2023

 

7. Bernardo Cavallino, Saint Bartholomew

Bernardo Cavallino, <I>Saint Bartholomew</I>. Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Bernardo Cavallino, Saint Bartholomew. Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Estimate: $2.5 million to $3.5 million

Final Price: $3.92 million

Where & When: Sotheby’s New York, January 26, 2023

 

8. Georges de La Tour, Saint James the Greater

Georges de La Tour, <I>Saint James the Greater</I>. Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Georges de La Tour, Saint James the Greater. Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Estimate: $3.5 million to $5 million

Final Price: $3.68 million

Where & When: Sotheby’s New York, January 26, 2023

 

9. Anthony van Dyck, A study for Saint Jerome

Anthony van Dyck, <I>A study for Saint Jerome</I>. Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Anthony van Dyck, A study for Saint Jerome. Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Estimate: $2 million to $3 million

Final Price: $3 million

Where & When: Sotheby’s New York, January 26, 2023

 

10. Pieter Brueghel the Younger, The Kermesse of Saint George

Pieter Brueghel II, <I>The Kermesse of Saint George</I>. Courtesy of Christie's Images, Ltd.

Pieter Brueghel II, The Kermesse of Saint George. Courtesy of Christie’s Images, Ltd.

Estimate: $2.5 million to $3.5 million

Final Price: $2.94 million

Where & When: Christie’s New York, January 25, 2023

 

11. Frans van Mieris the Elder, A young woman sealing a letter by candlelight

Frans van Mieris the Elder, <I>A young woman sealing a letter by candlelight</I>. Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Frans van Mieris the Elder, A young woman sealing a letter by candlelight. Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Estimate: $1.5 million to $2 million

Final Price:  $2.71 million

Where & When: Sotheby’s New York, January 26, 2023

 

12. Jean-Baptiste Oudry, Album containing a frontispiece and 138 illustrations for books I to VI of the Fables of Jean de La Fontaine

Jean-Baptiste Oudry, <I>Album containing a frontispiece and 138 illustrations for books I to VI of the Fables of Jean de La Fontaine</I> (ca. 1729-34). Courtesy of Christie's Images, Ltd.

Jean-Baptiste Oudry, Album containing a frontispiece and 138 illustrations for books I to VI of the Fables of Jean de La Fontaine (ca. 1729-34). Courtesy of Christie’s Images, Ltd.

Estimate: $1.5 million to $2 million

Final Price: $2.7 million

Where & When: Christie’s New York, January 25, 2023

 

13. Canaletto, The Rialto Bridge, Venice, from the south with an embarkation, traditionally identified as the Prince of Saxony during his visit to Venice in 1740 (1740)

Canaletto, <I>The Rialto Bridge, Venice, from the south with an embarkation, traditionally identified as the Prince of Saxony during his visit to Venice in 1740</I> (1740). Courtesy of Christie's Images, Ltd.

Canaletto, The Rialto Bridge, Venice, from the south with an embarkation, traditionally identified as the Prince of Saxony during his visit to Venice in 1740 (1740). Courtesy of Christie’s Images, Ltd.

Estimate: $2.5 million to $3.5 million

Final Price: $2.7 million

Where & When: Christie’s New York, January 25, 2023

 

14. Master of the Spinola Annunciation, Nativity 

Master of the Spinola Annunciation, <I>Nativity</I>. Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Master of the Spinola Annunciation, Nativity. Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Estimate: $2 million to $3 million

Final Price: $2.43 million

Where & When: Sotheby’s New York, January 26, 2023

 

14. Pieter Brueghel the Younger, The Wedding Procession (1630)

Pieter Brueghel the Younger, <I>The Wedding Procession </I>(1630). Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Pieter Brueghel the Younger, The Wedding Procession (1630). Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

 

Estimate: $2 million to $3 million

Final Price: $2.23 million

Where & When: Sotheby’s New York, January 26, 2023


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