This painting by the Dutch Impressionist master Vincent van Gogh suddenly became world-famous when Japanese businessman Ryoei Saito paid $82.5 million for it at auction in Christie's, New York. Saito was so attached to the painting that he wanted it to be cremated with him when he died. Saito died in 1996 ... but the painting was saved.
Vincent van Gogh actually painted two versions of Dr Gachet's portrait. You can view the other version, with a slightly different color scheme, at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris.
Another big surprise followed in 2006, when this painting near doubled its presale estimate and fetched a record $95,200,000 at auction at Sotheby's on May 3, 2006.
Painted in 1941, Picasso's controversial portrait (one of his last) is sometimes described as an unflattering depiction of his mistress, Dora Maar, who was an artist/photographer and mistress of Picasso whose relationship lasted ten years during the 1930s and 40s.
Garçon à la Pipe was created during the artist's famous Rose Period, during which Picasso painted with a cheerful orange and pink palatte. The oil on canvas painting, measuring 100 × 81.3 cm (slightly over 39 × 32 inches), depicts a Parisian boy holding a pipe in his left hand.
The record price auction at Sotheby's New York on May 4, 2004 was a bit of a surprise to art buyers, since it was painted in the style not usually associated with the pioneering Cubist artist.
The record-breaking sale - which followed a court order by the Austrian government to return the painting to Bloch-Bauer's heir - was the culmination of a years-long dispute over the painting looted by Nazis during World War II.
Painted by the art nouveau master Gustav Klimt in 1907, the portrait was purchased in 2006 by cosmetics heir Ronald S. Lauder.
Unconfirmed rumors that continue to buzz the art world now place this painting at the top of the list, at least temporarily. If true, the $140 million price tag would be the highest ever for a painting, besting the $135 million paid for the Gustav Klimt painting Portrait of Adele Block Bauer in June 2006.
Painted by expressionist Jackson Pollock in his trademark "drip" style, the 4' x 8' painting is said to have been purchased by entertainment mogul David Geffen in November 2006.