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

2. Ed Ruscha – $1.2bn

The LA pop artist has ‘the coolest gaze in art’, so they say. Ed Ruscha, born 1937, has been making completely detached “paintings with words in them” since the late fifties with the Ferus Gallery in LA, and his success has not been sustained and constant, but over the last twenty or so years he has experienced total adoration and respect from the people that matter in the fields of art, photography and film. He’s hugely influenced by the vernacular styles of LA and southern California, as illustrated by his, ahem, trademark work, Large Trademark with Eight Spotlights (1962).

1. John Currin – 1.43bn

He’s hardly a household name, so you may be amazed to read that John Currin, born in 1962, tops our list with a net worth of $1.4b dollars. Currin’s technique leans towards the old master/renaissance style, despite its modern setting and sexually provocative content. His most expensive paintings include Hot Pants, Honeymoon Nude, and Nude on a Table. Currin’s painting, Bea Arthur Naked, sold at Christie’s on May 15th, 2013 for $1.9m. Of his work, Currin says “often I find myself attracted to ideas that are ill-advised and bad… it’s not because I want to shock people or show how open-minded I am, but for some reason stupidity is a theme for me in painting and I find it liberating… I don’t know why, but I feel freer.”

John Currin, Heartless, 1997

So that’s our round-up of the world’s highest earning living artists – whatever you think of their work, the art world loves them, and for decades to come and even after their deaths, these are the names that will be associated with the most expensive artwork money can buy.

See also: David Hockney Painting ‘The Splash’ Sells For £23.1m

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