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Art can be incredibly expensive. But why? It’s certainly not because the materials are so rare. If you take a painting that cost $300,000 and broke it down into its basic materials, it would amount to just $50 or so. And that’s for a really good painting. So why are paintings so expensive?

Supply and Demand

The supply of great artists is limited. The supply of paintings by Leonardo da Vinci is very limited, for example.

There are only about 20 of his paintings left in the world today. So the supply is greatly limited while the number of people who are after his work goes by the thousands.

It’s an Investment

Art is the ultimate luxury good, after all. It’s meant to be experienced, not just looked at. As a result of this, art can be finicky and temperamental – which makes it even more expensive.

The most expensive painting ever sold at auction was Francis Crick’s “Untitled” painting of his famous DNA model, which sold for $140.4 million dollars. The highest price paid at auction for a sculpture was Jeff Koons’ “Balloon Dog (Orange)” which sold for $58.4 million USD.