Searching for the richest painters in the world can prove a rather difficult task, as many of these artists don’t want you to know how much they’re worth, or truly don’t know or care about finding out their own actual wealth; they’re too busy working on their next artistic masterpiece. Moreover, this list will only look at the richest living painters, and as many painters have become famous and wealthy after their death (as their works instantly become collector’s items and greatly increase in value), the field can be rather limited when looking.
The term “starving artist” has become even more applicable to the field in recent times as the age of social media has continued to develop. In part due to the flooding of the market, painting is not looked at as one of the most respected professions that also pay well. However, there are hundreds of ways in which art can now be monetized through these social media platforms, giving painters a true chance for their art to be found while they are still living.
One more factor to take into account when making this list is the amount of money that some of these painters command for their art when they do in fact sell them. Paintings are only listed at a specific price when a buyer inquires about it, at a gallery showing, or at some of the most prestigious art museums such as the MOMA in New York, where some paintings can be available for purchase. By looking at these numbers, one can see the amount of money an artist feels their paintings are worth. While this doesn’t tell us who has more money than another, it does help us validate the claimed wealth of the painters on this list. If someone was supposedly worth millions of dollars but had paintings selling under a hundred, they won’t be on this list.
So as today’s climate allows for painters to get rich before their passing, let’s check out who the richest painters in the world are today.
6. David Hockney
With an estimated worth of $40 million, David Hockney is one of the most influential and fiscally successful British artists in history. He is one painter on this list who has embraced the digital age and has recently showed some of his artwork via iPad. His most recent painting sold was in 2009, when he sold a portrait for $8 million.
A famous Japanese painter is next on our list of the richest painters in the world, continuing on the next page.
5. Takashi Muramaki
Muramaki has over 100 employees working on applying his art to various platforms in order to sell his paintings. He made a famous Kanye West album cover and has painted on a variety of Louis Vuitton items through a collaboration that has netted him millions. Moreover, he’s responsible for Pharrell’s foray into the fashion world and continues to stretch creative boundaries, with paintings ranging from abstract to cartoonish. His estimated worth of $100 million makes him one of the richest painters in the world.
4. Andre Vicari
This Welsh painter has actually lost a bit of his value over the years as more paintings have come to the forefront of popularity in the digital age. Vicari is worth over $140 million and is known best for his work of painting portraits for the rich and famous. Painting for Kings and Princes proved lucrative for Vicari, who has sold as much as $27 million worth of paintings to one royal family in Saudi Arabia in one sale.
3. David Choe
Almost a literal foil to the above mentioned Vicari, Choe is a graffiti artist who achieved fortune and fame largely due to social media and the internet. The Korean painter is known for his graffiti work and murals, yet he has also expanded his sights into graphic novels as well. He’s known to be a bit eccentric, as many artists supposedly are, and his uniqueness and mystique have helped him turn his passion into an estimated worth of $200 million.
2. Jasper Johns
This American painter is best known for painting the American Flag, which he supposedly thought of during a dream. He has long painted different types of maps and flags, and has recently gone into trying his luck in the realm of sculptures. However, with the American Flag being worth $80 million, John’s has an overall net-worth of $300 million that got a large and quick start from the initial design. While he is one of the richest painters in the world, he does not have the catalog of others on this list.
1. Damien Hirst
The richest painter in the world is Damien Hirst, a British artist who initially became famous for a slew of projects showing dead animals preserved in a display case. He is responsible for creating “spin paintings”, which make things on a flat surface look as though they’re spinning, and has continued to monetize his brand in ways never seen before.
He estimates his worth to be over $1 billion now, and raised $198 million for one exhibit in 2008. Hirst is known to be somewhat of a “sell-out” in the artistic world, as unlike the rest of the painters on this list, Hirst promotes his wealth and wears his net-worth directly on his sleeve. He comes up in every mildly relevant Google search, and his net-worth is thought to be over a billion only because he refuted a 2009 claim that he was only worth $388 million. Yet, whether it’s closer to $1 billion or $388 million, Damien Hirst is the richest painter in the world.