Making a fortune as an artist is not an easy feat.
But as this list shows, it can be done. There are very few artists that amass great riches in this lifetime, while the vast majority live below poverty level, or support themselves with other jobs.
Being one of the wealthiest artists in the world does not necessarily mean they are more popular or influential in the world of art – or even a better artist.
I truly believe that some of the best artists do not make near the amount of money that these do.
5 Richest Artists in the World Today
Damien Hirst – 1 Billion
The Sunday Times Rich List in 2009 stated that Damien Hirst had a net worth of £215m (350m US). Today, Damien Hirst is reported to be worth over $1 BILLION U.S. DOLLARS, making him the richest living artist ever!
In 2007, his diamond encrusted scull For the Love of God, was valued at $100 million, and eventually sold for nearly $78 million. In 2008, his art auction at Sotheby's, London, England titled Beautiful Inside My Head Forever, sold out, netting him a record breaking $198 million.
2012 began as a good year for Hirst. Tate Modern held a retrospective of his artwork and his own rendition of the Union Flag of Britain was used in the closing ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
In regards to new work this past year, Damien Hirst had an exhibition of new still life paintings (Two Week, One Summer) at White Cube gallery in Bermondsey, London – which was met with negative reviews.
Jeff Koons – 500 Million
Jeff Koons is known for huge reproductions of banal things, such as balloon animal sculptures created from stainless steel. Today, Koons runs a studio factory and employs over 120 people.
Just this past year, on Nov. 14, 2012, one of Jeff Koons’ pieces Tulips sold for a record $33.7 million U.S.
Major Exhibitions in 2012:
Jeff Koons, Beyeler Museum, Basel, Switzerland
Jeff Koons - The Painter, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, Germany
Jeff Koons - The Sculptor, Liebieghaus, Frankfurt, Germany
Jasper Johns – 300 Million
Jasper Johns is an American artist who was born in Augusta, Georgia, whose most famous painting is Flag (1954–55). He is also known for sculpture and print artworks.
For about the past 3 decades, Jasper Johns has only created about 4-5 paintings per year. Because of rarity, his paintings have been well sought after, and have fetched high prices among collectors.
In 2011, Jasper Johns received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama.
David Choe – 200 Million
David Chloe is an American graffiti artist, muralist, painter, and graphic novelist. He is partly known for his paintings on album covers, and on sets of certain movies (The Glass House and Juno). Most of his wealth did not come through these venues though, but from his association with Facebook.
David Chloe was commissioned to paint murals in Facebook offices in 2005 and 2007, but chose to receive stock instead of payment. In 2012, his shares were worth $200 million! This catapulted him to a sudden position as one of the richest living artists, surpassing the likes of Takashi Murakami, Anish Kapoor and Antony Gormley.
Andre Vicari – 142 Million
Andre Vicari is an artist born in Wales, and living in France. He has amassed most of his artist fortune by portrait commissions of rich and famous people. The Saudi Arabian government and King appointed him official painter in 1974. In 2001 Prince Khaled purchased a collection of paintings based on the first Gulf war for £17 million.
Other artists that trail close behind these as the wealthiest living artists are Takashi Murakami, Anish Kapoor, Gerhard Richter, David Hockney and Cindy Sherman.
What are your opinions about these artists?
What do you think it takes to become one of the richest living artists?