Art FocusWho Are the World’s Top Ten Highest Earning Artists?

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Who Are the World’s Top Ten Highest Earning Artists?

The prices these artists’ works sell for may be eye-watering, but how much of the money do they see and who are the highest earning artists?

The works of the high rollers in the art world may be commanding eye-watering figures, but it is unlikely that the artists get a huge slice of the money in the headline-grabbing sales. The costs of their works may run into millions, and no doubt after they’re gone the value of their works will skyrocket even more – but some are better than others at making money out of their artistic output while they’re alive. Fashions aside, their work will probably always be popular, but if you don’t own it while they’re living, you’ll probably not be able to afford it when they’re dead and gone.

See also: Teenage Mozart Painting Rockets Past Estimated Price at Christie’s Auction

10. Banksy – £50m

Probably Britain’s best known and arguably most popular living artist, which plays very nicely into the fact that no one knows who he is. The pseudonymous street artist is loved by the auction houses – his canvas Show Me the Monet clocked in at 10 million dollars, whilst Devolved Parliament fetched £12 million. But he’s struggled to retain copyright of many of his best-known works and regularly finds them up for sale without his consent.

Banksy Monet
Banksy, Show Me the Monet, 2005

9. Bridget Riley – £85m

‘No painter dead or alive has ever made us more aware of our eyes than Bridget Riley’ – a supreme quote from Robert Melville in 1970 that couldn’t be more on the money for describing Bridget Riley’s work. The only woman on this list, born in 1931, her canvases tend not to sell for astronomical fees – a career high of $5.7 million at Christie’s for a 1966 untitled piece – but she is one of the most respected artists of her generation and a major proponent of op-art. Hot on the heels of a fabulously celebratory retrospective in the Hayward Gallery, she has cemented her status as an important artist.

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Bridget-Riley,-Untitled-(Diagonal-Curve)
Bridget Riley, Untitled (Diagonal Curve), 1966
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