5 Most Expensive Kooning Paintings

Willem de Kooning Painting Untitled XXI

As one of the leading artists in abstract expressionism, Willem de Kooning is well-known for his abstract and wildly colorful artwork.

His art career began with black and white paintings, which are an important part of the history of abstract art expression in their form and technique. de Kooning created a vast number of incredible artworks during his lifetime, and as a result, he became a wildly popular artist with many art investors.

Much of de Kooning’s compelling work has fetched hefty prices at auctions, so here are the most expensive Kooning paintings.



This dynamic piece of artwork was painted by de Kooning in 1955, composed of slashing brushstrokes, and displays well the techniques and themes of de Kooning’s work during the 1940s and 1950s.

The interchange was one of de Kooning’s first entrances into the work of abstract expression and marked a change in his style of work.

At the time of sale in 1989, this was not only the most expensive Kooning painting ever sold but also the most expensive piece of contemporary artwork ever sold. This painting fetched a high price of $18.8 million dollars at Sotheby’s in New York.  

2.Untitled XXI

Untitled XXI Kooning Paintings

Untitled XXI was created by de Kooning in the 1970s and stands as a representative artist’s masterpiece.

With his work during the ’70s, de Kooning enhanced the texture of his artwork by adding water to oil paint, thereby thinning in, as well as adding fuels like kerosene and benzene or adding safflower oil as a binding agent.

As a result of these, his paint thickened into a clay-like adhesiveness, which allowed his artwork to take on the stylistic form that had previously occupied his practice. Untitled XXI sold for $22 million dollars during 2015.

3.Untitled VUntitled V

Painted in 1975 after a long hiatus from painting, this piece of art represents de Kooning’s return and immersion back into the abstract art form.

This Kooning painting titled Untitled V showcases the skill and ability de Kooning so often displayed in abstract expressionism. With every swathe and blow and brushstroke, drip, and a smear of paint, de Kooning shows he is in his element, having attained total mastery over the abstract medium.

This incredible piece of work was purchased in 2015 at Sotheby’s in New York for $22 million dollars.

4.Untitled VIII
Untitled VIII Kooning Paintings

Composed in 1977, Untitled VIII is thought to be reflective of the experiences of de Kooning in East Hampton, where he sought to immerse his stylistic choices in the watery landscapes that surrounded him.

This piece of work encapsulates the surface of the water and its unique ability to reflect, merge and shape the colors and elements from the land and sky around it.

As a result, this painting makes use of a number of techniques and boasts an impressive texture. Christie’s New York auctioned this amazing piece of artwork for $28.5 million dollars in 2013.

5. Untitled XXV.
Untitled XXV

This famous de Kooning painting was developed through a practice de Kooning had begun with sculpting, where the sculptor would par the clay down to nothing in order to begin all over again.

This technique was utilized in this painting, where de Kooning built up his imagery through scraping off, paring down, and sanding back the paint, so only traces of his earlier work endured.

Painted in 1977, Untitled XXV was sold for an unbelievable $59 million dollars at a Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale in New York in 2016 making this the most expensive Kooning painting.


The retrospective art show of Willem de Kooning’s work at the Museum of Modern Art certainly made him one of the most well-known abstract expressionist artists of the 20th century.

Much of his work is regularly being put up for auction at some of the world’s biggest auction houses, and perhaps other pieces of de Kooning’s work will someday exceed the items on this list of most expensive Kooning paintings.

It is without a doubt that the unmistakable work of de Kooning, from the use of his vibrant colors, fluid brushstrokes, and masterful techniques will continue to cause his masterpieces to fetch high prices when they go up for auction. Also, check out the 15 Most Famous Abstract Paintings

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