Some of the Most Expensive Chinese Paintings Ever Sold

Feb 28, 2021 | ART, Asia, China, CULTURE, Singapore

Artworks are now being sold at incredible mind-boggling prices. Whether you have a few million to spare and want to turn your house into a museum, or just curious about art, we’ve compiled some of the most expensive Asian artworks ever sold. 

Millions of people would agree that the majority of the paintings on private collections and museums in the world are priceless. With its rich history and symbolism, it’s almost impossible to put a price on paintings. However, many art pieces are being sold on a daily basis, mostly with a heavy price tag that would make your head spin. Here are some of the most expensive paintings in Asia.

Juin-Octobre 1985

Made by Chinese French painter Zao Wou-Ki, this abstract work is the most expensive Asian painting sold according to Sotheby’s. The artwork named after its completion date measures 10 meters long and was sold for a staggering $65 million. Zao moved to Paris after World War II and is famous for his seamless combination of Western modernism and classical Chinese painting techniques. The hefty price tag is double the price previously paid for a work by Zao who passed away in 2013.

Wood and Rock

Made by Su Shi and is possibly the rarest Chinese painting in the world, the ink on paper scroll Wood and Rock is a 1,000-year-old artwork made by a poet, calligrapher, writer, statesman, and artist from the Song Dynasty. The expensive artwork depicts withered tree branches along a unique-shaped rock that looks like giant creatures and dragons lurking from the stormy sea. 

Magnificent View of Maoshan Mountain

Sold for $27 million, Magnificent View of Maoshan Mountain is an ink-brush landscape made by modern master Fu Baoshi. It was sold to a real estate developer from Gansu province. This three-meter long painting was completed three months before the artist’s death, and was done in the traditional hanshui mountain-and-water-style. 

Fu Baoshi's 'Magnificent View of Maoshan Mountain

Fu Baoshi’s ‘Magnificent View of Maoshan Mountain

Manchurian Mountains

This 1969 painting by Zhang Daqian was bought for $20.7 million. One of the most prolific Chinese artists of the 20th century, Daqian specialized in splashed-ink landscapes. This important artwork was witness to the friendship of Daqian and Chinese political figure, Zhang Xueliang. It was even gifted to the son-in-law and daughter of the said military man.


Chinese-French painter Sanyu, also known as the “Chinese Matisse,” sold his last nude painting in 2004 for over $24 million in an auction by Sotheby’s where his two other paintings also got the third and fourth highest prices. It has recently broken another record, the same painting was auctioned and sold at $145 million in 2021 in the midst of the pandemic. This famous painting is the poster image for the exhibition Hommage à Sanyu organized by Jean-Claude Riedel. It is the artist’s largest female nude paintings and also his last.

Five Drunken Kings on Horses

It’s no secret that the value of traditional Chinese art pieces is huge, and the Five Drunken Kings on Horses is no different. This painting by Yuan Dynasty official-painter Ren Renfa was sold for $44 million in 2016. The auction for the colored painting lasted close to an hour and its price exceeded expectations. There are only about 20 pieces in total of the artist’s works, which catapulted the price of this 2-meter-long hand scroll. 

Singapore River

Aw Tee Hong set a personal record when his painting of the Singapore River was sold for $198,000. The untitled oil on canvas artwork was sold from a private collection. The 88-year old artist is also the man behind The River Merchant’s bronze sculpture. He is famous for using a wide variety of media for his artworks, and capturing the constantly evolving cityscapes in his home country.

Twelve Landscape Screens

Twelve Landscape Screens by Qi Baishi is a set of ink-brush panels that were painted in 1925, and was sold for $140.8 million. It depicts villages, trees in bloom, and mountains colored in pink, soft blue, and brown tones. It was bought by a Chinese collector.

12 Landscape Screens

Art in Asia

The Asian art market has seen record-breaking sales in the previous years. With grand auctions by Christie’s and Sotheby’s, modern and contemporary paintings from the continent are expected to continue fetching a higher price in the coming years despite economic changes.