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How Much Is Van Gogh’s Starry Night Worth Today? Famous Van Gogh Paintings FAQ

Wondering how much Van Gogh’s The Starry Night is worth? This post is about exploring famous Van Gogh paintings, and how much they’re worth with specific focus on The Starry Night.

Van Gogh’s The Starry Night is worth between $200 million to $500 million (USD). While there isn’t an exact amount of how much it is worth, we can look toward his other paintings that have sold for an estimated amount. Portrait of Dr Paul Gachet sold for $83 million in 1990 which is worth ~$225 million in 2023 with inflation so The Starry Night – which is much more famous would likely sell for more.

Link: Interested to see how it stacks up to the Mona Lisa? Check out our post here

How Much Is Van Gogh’s Starry Night Worth? – Key Takeaways

  • Van Gogh’s The Starry Night holds an estimated value of over $200 million today.
  • We can look towards how much his other paintings have sold for to reach an estimate:
    • Portrait of Dr Paul Gachet sold for $83 million in 1990 which is ~$225 million
    • Sunflowers sold for $28 million in 1987 which is ~$77 million today
  • In 1941 through the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest the Museum of Modern Art in New York City acquired it.
    • Since it was a donation there is, unfortunately, no recorded price or value

Famous Van Gogh Paintings Price List Breakdown

Painting TitleSale Price in USDYear Sold
Portrait of Dr. Gachet (shown above*)$82.5 million1990
Self-portrait without beard$71.5 million1998
Irises$53.9 million1987
L’Allée des Alyscamps$66.3 million2015
Laboureur dans un champ$81.3 million2017
Portrait de l’artiste sans barbe (Portrait of the artist without beard)$71.5 million1998
A Wheatfield with Cypresses$57 million (est.)1993
Portrait of Joseph Roulin$58 million (est.)Late 1980s
Peasant Woman Against a Background of Wheat$47.5 million1997
Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers$39.7 million1987

How Much Is Starry Night Worth in 2023 (How Art Price Is Estimated)

The Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh is likely worth between $200 million to $500 million (USD).

While we don’t have any recently recorded exact prices of the painting, we can take estimates based on his other paintings sold such as:

  • Portrait of Dr. Paul Gachet sold for $83 million in 1990
  • Self-portrait without a Beard sold for $72 million in 1998

However, it should be noted that Starry Night is Van Gogh’s most popular painting and will likely fetch a much higher amount

Art Price is best estimated by considering the below factors:

  1. Provenance: The history of the painting’s ownership can greatly affect its value. A clear, well-documented provenance without gaps increases a painting’s desirability and value.
  2. Authenticity: The painting must be authenticated as a genuine work by the artist. This often involves experts, the artist’s estate, or authentication committees.
  3. Condition: The state of preservation of a painting is crucial. Restoration can affect value, especially if it alters the original significantly.
  4. Historical Significance: The importance of the painting in the artist’s body of work and its impact on the history of art can affect its value. For instance, pivotal works that marked a change in the artist’s style or had a significant impact on the art movement of the time are usually valued higher.
  5. Market Trends: The art market is influenced by trends. If an artist’s work is in high demand, prices can skyrocket. Conversely, prices can fall if the market for a particular artist or style wanes.
  6. Rarity: The fewer the works by an artist available on the market, the more valuable those works can be.
  7. Size and Subject Matter: Larger paintings or those with a subject matter that is more desirable or typical of the artist’s recognized style may be valued higher.
  8. Previous Sale Prices: The amounts that similar works by the artist have fetched at auction in recent years are often used as a baseline.
  9. Economic Factors: The general state of the economy can impact the art market. In a booming economy, art prices may rise as more buyers have discretionary income to spend on art.
  10. Auction House Estimates: Before an auction, experts at auction houses such as Sotheby’s or Christie’s will often provide an estimated selling price based on all these factors.
  11. Sales Comparables: Similar to real estate, comparing sales of similar works by the artist or within the genre can provide a ballpark figure.
  12. Expert Appraisals: Professional appraisers who specialize in fine art can provide valuations based on in-depth research and their expertise in the art market.

Why Is The Starry Night So Famous?

Simply put, The Starry Night created in 1889, stands as a testament to the unquenchable spirit of the artist who resiliently carried on his artistic journey despite his deteriorating mental state.

Keep in mind, Van Gogh painted “The Starry Night” during his confinement in an asylum, amidst tormenting periods of psychosis. This lends the painting an inescapable charm resulting from a juxtaposition of his personal struggle and the joy emanating from the painting’s vibrant palette.

Beyond his struggles and angst, Van Gogh’s incredible use of color and brushwork played a major role in the painting’s fame. He employed thick, expressive strokes which revolutionized the impressionistic art landscape of his era, giving birth to expressionism.

What’s the Meaning of Starry Night?

“The Starry Night” can be viewed as a poignant representation of human life and all that deep negatives and beautiful positives that it has to offer. Specifically loneliness, depression, anxiety as well as artistic beauty, hope, and wonder.

Meanings can certainly change from person to person, but I feel like it’s important to try to understand Van Gogh’s mental state during the time of its creation as it was during his confinement in an asylum, where he was dealing with severe bouts of psychosis.

Who Owns Van Gogh’s Starry Night?

When it comes to the ownership of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” the work itself has been part of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) collection in New York City since 1941. It was acquired through the Lillie P. Bliss bequest, named after the philanthropist who was one of the museum’s co-founders.

Keep in mind that the bequest essentially entailed the transfer of Bliss’s private collection to the museum following her demise in 1931. The collection comprised of an impressive assemblage of modernist artworks, including works by artists like Cézanne, Gauguin, and naturally, Van Gogh.

As a side note, prior to making its way to MoMA, the path “Starry Night” undertook remains shrouded in a certain degree of ambiguity. Van Gogh’s brother Theo was the initial owner post the painting’s creation in 1889.

Upon his passing, Theo’s widow, Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, inherited the painting and she is credited with launching Van Gogh’s posthumous fame.

Thus, while private individuals owned “Starry Night” in the initial years of its existence, for the past eight decades, the painting has been in the possession of a public institution – a testament to the continued appreciation of Van Gogh’s masterpiece, and an illustration of the democratization of access to high art.

Can I Buy The Starry Night?

No, unfortunately, even if you had the funds you wouldn’t be able to buy The Starry Night as it is owned by the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

The odds of the museum ever listed the art for purchase in auction is very little if non existent so for many the piece of art is priceless.

Short History of Starry Night

Here are some key points on the history of The Starry Night:

  • Creation during Hardship: Vincent Van Gogh painted “The Starry Night” in June 1889 while in the Saint-Paul asylum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France, seeking solace for his mental health issues.
  • Asylum Room View: The painting showcases the view from his room’s east-facing window at night, completed from memory during daylight hours.
  • Iconic Style: With vivid colors and swirling brushstrokes, “The Starry Night” exemplifies Van Gogh’s innovative and emotionally charged post-impressionist style.
  • Reflection of Mindset: The artwork is thought to mirror Van Gogh’s inner turmoil, sense of isolation, and quest for hope, despite his own critical view of the painting.
  • Posthumous Journey: Ownership of “The Starry Night” initially went to Van Gogh’s brother, Theo, upon the artist’s death in 1890, and later to Theo’s widow, Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, who actively promoted Van Gogh’s work.
  • Path Through Collectors: The painting was sold to the Oldenzeel Gallery in 1906, then to private collectors including Georgette P. van Stolk and Paul Rosenberg, before entering the U.S. art market.
  • MoMA Acquisition: Lillie P. Bliss, co-founder of MoMA, bequeathed “The Starry Night” to the museum, where it was officially catalogued in 1941 and has remained on continuous display.
  • Cultural Impact: The placement of “The Starry Night” in MoMA’s collection has solidified Van Gogh’s legacy as a master painter and bolstered the museum’s prestige as a leading modern art institution.

Brief Biography of Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh, a name synonymous with post-impressionist art, ventured beyond the boundaries of his tumultuous life through the vibrant strokes of his paintbrush.

Some key points on the life of Vincent Van Gogh:

  • Began painting seriously at age 27
  • Created over 2,100 artworks, including around 860 oil paintings, in just over a decade.
  • Suffered from acute mental breakdowns and episodes of delirium.
  • Voluntarily admitted himself to the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole asylum in Saint-Rémy in 1889.
  • Continued to paint while in the asylum, producing some of his most renowned works including “The Starry Night.”
  • Sold only one painting during his lifetime, “The Red Vineyard.” (shown above)
  • His works gained critical acclaim and recognition after his death
  • Died on July 29, 1890, from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, largely unknown to the art world.

Van Gogh’s final years were a battle with mental illness, leading to his self-admittance to the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole asylum in Saint-Rémy. Despite the barred windows of his confinement, Van Gogh’s vision soared beyond, capturing the celestial swirls of “The Starry Night” and the haunting beauty of “Irises.”

His relentless drive to paint, to bring beauty from pain, never waned. Tragically, his life was as much a brief candle as it was a blazing sun, ending with his death in July 1890. Van Gogh’s posthumous fame burgeoned, with his art forging an indelible legacy, influencing generations and illuminating the profound beauty woven through the trials of the human experience.

What’s the Most Expensive Van Gogh painting?

As of this writing the most expensive Van Gogh painting that was ever sold was Portrait of Dr. Gachet $82.5 million in 1990 (over is ~$225 million in 2023 with inflation.

“Portrait of Dr. Gachet” dates back to June 1890 and showcases Dr. Paul Gachet, who looked after Van Gogh during the final months of his life. The painting was acquired by Ryoei Saito, a Japanese businessman.

Again, accounting for inflation, the painting would be worth almost $225 million today, confirming Van Gogh’s continued stature as one of the art world’s most valued artists. It is believed that “Dr. Gachet,” if sold today, would probably set a new record.

What Are the Top 10 Most Expensive Van Gogh Paintings?

  1. Portrait of Dr. Gachet $82.5 million in 1990 (over $160 million today with inflation)
  2. Portrait de l’artiste sans barbe (Portrait of the Artist without Beard) $71.5 million in 1998 (over $100 million with inflation)
  3. Irises – $53.9 million in 1987 ($120 million with inflation)
  4. A Wheatfield with Cypresses – $57 million in a private sale to the Walter H. and Leonore Annenberg Collection in 1993.
  5. Peasant Woman Against a Background of Wheat – $47.5 million in 1997.
  6. Self-portrait without beard – $71.5 million in 1998.
  7. Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers – $39.7 million in 1987, which would be about $90 million today.
  8. Portrait of Joseph Roulin – $58 million in a private sale in the late 1980s.
  9. L’Allée des Alyscamps – $66.3 million in 2015.
  10. Laboureur dans un champ – $81.3 million in 2017.

How Much Is Van Gogh’s Sunflowers Worth?

In 1987, Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflowers sold for $28 million which is worth ~$77 million in 2023.

Van Gogh actually painted of series of sunflower paintings and wanted to be known as the the painter of sunflowers.

The sale of Van Gogh’s painting broke all records and was sold at over three times the highest price ever paid for a painting at auction. Previously the highest amount paid for a painting was held by Adoration of the Magi by Andrea Mantegna which sold $10.449 million at a London auction.

How Much for Van Gogh Self-Portrait?

Van Gogh’s Self Portrait sold for $72 million (USD) in 1998 which with inflation is worth ~$135 million today.

This painting (shown below) likely had a lot of sentimental value for Van Gogh since he painted it in the asylum at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence and gifted it to his mother for her 70th birthday.

Other Related Questions (FAQ):

What Was More Expensive, the Mona Lisa or the Starry Night?

As far as valuations go, comparing Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” and Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” isn’t exactly straightforward.

Link: Read More on how the value of the Mona Lisa is estimated here

On December 14, 1962 the Mona Lisa was assessed through an insurance evaluation at $100 million which with a 3.88% yearly inflation rate is equivalent to $1 billion dollars today in 2023.

Here’s why. The “Mona Lisa,” arguably one of the most recognized and replicated artistic works in history, is a prized possession of the French government, displayed in the Louvre Museum in Paris. The art piece has remained off the market for centuries, making it impossible to determine its current market valuation. That said, insurance estimations in the 1960s placed its value at $100 million, amounting to roughly half a billion dollars today, considering inflation.

On the other hand, Van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” housed in New York’s Museum of Modern Art, is another treasure not available for sale, hence making a direct market value comparison challenging. It’s crucial to mention that no Van Gogh painting has been auctioned for over half a billion dollars as of yet. Experts speculate that the “Starry Night,” if it were ever to be sold, could harness an impressive price tag, potentially exceeding $300 million in today’s art market, but still, it falls short of the “Mona Lisa’s” estimated colossal value. Consequently, at face value, the “Mona Lisa” appears to command a higher price than the “Starry Night.”

Who Was Theo Van Gogh?

Theodor Van Gogh, known as Theo, was Vincent Van Gogh’s younger brother and lifelong confidante. A central figure in Van Gogh’s life, he was an art dealer and played a significant role in championing Vincent’s artistic talent. Theo saw potential in his brother’s unconventional style, and supported him financially and emotionally, enabling Vincent to focus on his art without facing the burdens of monetary issues.

The brothers shared an epistolary connection, exchanging numerous letters throughout their lives. Van Gogh’s letters to Theo provide a deep insight into his thoughts, struggles, and artistic visions. Suffering from mental health issues, Van Gogh often found solace in sharing his tribulations with Theo, who provided encouragement and empathy.

Following Vincent’s suicide in 1890, Theo was devastated. His health, already compromised, deteriorated rapidly, and he passed away just six months after Vincent. Today, their graves rest side by side in Auvers-sur-Oise, France, a testament to the unbreakable bond they shared in life. In the realm of art history, Theo Van Gogh is revered not only as the supportive brother of a genius artist but also as a discerning art dealer who fostered and shaped the burgeoning era of Impressionist art.

Why Did Van Gogh Struggle with Mental Health?

Van Gogh’s battle with mental health was believed to be largely due to a host of factors. Chief among them were social isolation, financial insecurity, career disappointments, and a hard-pressed quest for recognition. His mental instability was further exacerbated by an ascetic lifestyle marked by meager nourishment and an overindulgence in alcohol – particularly absinthe – which was known to cause bouts of psychosis. Plus, his exacerbated physical ailments complicated his emotional well-being.

Some modern medical practitioners have diagnosed Van Gogh, albeit posthumously, with a range of disorders such as epilepsy, bipolar disorder, and Meniere’s disease. Van Gogh’s marked propensity for deeply saturated colors and halo visual effects in his later artwork led to the theory that he suffered from an ocular disease such as glaucoma. His vivid use of yellow is thought to be a result of xanthopsia, a side effect of digitalis therapy.

Side note: Van Gogh’s battle with his mental health didn’t deter his drive to create art. On the contrary, it amplified his ardor to translate his inner turmoil onto canvas. It served as a therapeutic outlet and a means to assert control in the chaos pervading his life.

How and Why Did Vincent Van Gogh Cut Off His Ear?

Van Gogh’s self-mutilation episode, which resulted in the removal of his ear, is shrouded in mystery and speculation, mythologized by time, and sensationalized by the media. The depth of the act has been contested – some sources claim he severed only the earlobe, while others report that he hacked off the entire ear.

One account asserts that the act was triggered by a dispute with his contemporary, Gauguin, in Arles. In a fit of despair and psychosis following the confrontation, Van Gogh allegedly sliced off his ear with a razor, later presenting it to a prostitute in a brothel they both frequented. In contrast, an alternate theory posits that Gauguin, an accomplished fencer, cut off Van Gogh’s earlobe in self-defense during the altercation and that the two artists vowed silence to protect Gauguin.

The motive behind this macabre act remains elusive, but many historians point to feelings of abandonment as Van Gogh’s tipping point. The severing of his ear symbolized a poignant expression of his emotional pain and alienation, a desperate plea for recognition, comfort, and acknowledgement from society.

Did Van Gogh Make A Lot of Money From His Art?

The candid answer would be, ‘no, not during his lifetime’. One of the heartbreaking aspects of Van Gogh’s life was that he lived in abject poverty and struggled to make ends meet. The one-time art dealer relied heavily on his brother Theo, who was also his closest confidante, for financial support. It’s a glaring paradox that although he was one of the most influential artists of the 19th century, Van Gogh managed to sell only one painting, “The Red Vineyard”, while he was still alive.

Despite producing over 2,000 artworks, encompassing around 900 paintings and 1,100 drawings and sketches, Van Gogh failed to achieve commercial success during his lifetime. His emotionally charged and innovatively executed works met with much criticism, dismissal, and lack of appreciation in a society not quite ready for his then avant-garde style. However, years following his death, his paintings started gaining recognition, eventually skyrocketing in value. Today, his works are among the most expensive on the global art market.

One advantage of this delayed fame is that a large number of Van Gogh’s works have been preserved. They have been recognized for their deep emotional and symbolic resonance, and his impact on the artistic world, transcending his own lifetime.

Did Van Gogh Know That He Was a Famous Artist Before He Died?

No, Vincent Van Gogh did not know he was a world-renowned artist before he died. He lived most of his life in relative anonymity, grappling with mental health issues and struggling to make ends meet. His groundbreaking creativity was overshadowed by the societal norm of his era, his artworks were often criticized, leading him to lead a life of physical hardship and spiritual wrestling. He traditionally faced rejection, dismissal, and lack of appreciation from the artistic community and society at large for his distinctive style that was deemed too experimental for his time.

Van Gogh was largely misunderstood and his passion for his craft, coupled with his continued lack of esteem, eventually led to a life drowned in depressive spells, isolated retreats, and ultimate tragedy. He tragically ended his own life in July 1890, at the young age of 37, after a short but intense career of only a decade.

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