Louise Bourgeois Value: Top Prices Paid at Auction

A red ink fingerprint pressed onto a print, showcasing detailed ridges and whorls. The artist's signature initial 'LB' is subtly written in the lower left corner.Image © Sotheby's / Untitled © Louise Bourgeois 2002
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Louise Bourgeois, an influential figure in contemporary art, has achieved remarkable success within the art market due to her captivating and unsettling sculptural practice. Bourgeois' art market is thriving, experiencing steady growth and promising trends over the past five years. Her creations remain prominently featured in exhibitions worldwide, solidifying her reputation and expanding her reach.

While Bourgeois' sculptures maintain enduring appeal, her paintings and prints have garnered increased attention. In 2022, The Metropolitan Museum of Art hosted a solo exhibition titled Louise Bourgeois: Paintings, which is expected to generate further interest in her two-dimensional works. Exploring her lesser-known mediums opens new avenues for collectors and enthusiasts to engage with her artistic vision.

The following list showcases Louise Bourgeois' top-selling works at auction.

£26.5M for Spider


A towering 300 centimeter spider sculpture with eight limbs gracefully balanced on the floor, its front limb curled underneath.Image © Sotheby's/ Spider © Louise Bourgeois 1996

Louise Bourgeois' towering spider sculptures are a quintessential representation of her most emblematic body of work. Despite their imposing size, these sculptures are not intended to instil fear; rather, to be perceived as an elegant and mesmerising creation due to the conceptual nature of their limbs and their overall form as a visual lexicon. Their allure lies in the sheltering embrace they offer while simultaneously evoking a sense of unease through their ominous form.

This artwork is part of an edition of six plus one Artist Proof. Demonstrating its widespread international appeal, this piece realised £26,462,078 (including fees) at Sotheby's in May 2023, firmly establishing the work as Bourgeois' auction record. Two other editions of this work sold at Christie’s in May 2019 for £ 24,920,839 and again at Christie’s in November 2015 for £ 18,676,212 (fees included).

£13.1M for Spider IV

($ 129,205,000 (HKD))

A wall relief spider sculpture climbing upwards, its eight limbs spread out, with two on the left slightly curled inward, conveying a sense of movement.Image © Sotheby's / Spider IV (蜘蛛 IV) © Louise Bourgeois 1996

Possessing a commanding presence akin to her towering sculptures, Spider IV (1996) encapsulates the unique allure that permeates Bourgeois' body of work. Through its intricate wall mount configuration, this artwork springs to life with its extended, curved, and coiled limbs. This life-like state evokes a rich array of emotions and recurring themes in Bourgeois' artistic repertoire. With an extensive exhibition history, this piece achieved remarkable success at Sotheby's Hong Kong in April 2022, realising an equivalent to £13,104,746 (fees included). This price is a notable increase from its previous sale, also at Sotheby’s in November 2017, when it sold for £ 11,128,155 (fees included).

These two sales secure the positions of Bourgeois' fourth and fifth highest-selling masterpiece. The work is an edition of six plus one Artist Proof.

£8.8M for Spider II

($11,562,500 (USD))

A wall relief spider sculpture climbing upwards with a slight tilt, showcasing a dynamic movement. Its eight legs are evenly balanced on the surface.Image © Christie's / Spider II © Louise Bourgeois 1995

Demonstrating the resounding popularity of Louise Bourgeois' most recognisable creations, Spider II (1995) achieved an impressive sale at Christie's in November 2017, realising £8,782,296 (fees included) and securing its position as Bourgeois’ fifth highest-selling work. Diverging from the composition of Spider IV (1996), this particular variation showcases the spider in a state of equilibrium, with all limbs fully extended, as if caught in a frozen moment. This metaphorical suspension of time resonates with the recurring theme of memory, a profound presence within Bourgeois' artistic practice and an integral part of the ongoing exploration of her familial connections. Clinging to the wall with its sinuous legs, Spider II is an intricate study of form, inviting contemplation and analysis.

£6.6M for Quarantania

($67,000,000 (HKD))

A bronze polychrome sculpture with five slender totem-like structures rising from a base, delicately balanced on their tips. The sculpture exhibits blue concave crevices and elongated, phallic-like extensions protruding from the bottom of some of the totems.Image © Seoul Auction / Quarantania © Louise Bourgeois 1947-1953

Louise Bourgeois' artistic journey includes the Personages series, which marked her sculptural debut at Peridot Gallery New York in 1949. While most of the sculptures in this exhibition were standalone pieces, a few were presented as clustered formations. Among these, Quarantania emerged as a composition comprising five parts. It featured delicate bone-like structures protruding from a base, with distinctive blue-painted hollows carved into various segments.

Through its distinctive presentation, Quarantania surpasses the conventional boundaries of minimalism, urging viewers to contemplate the essential materiality of the work. It prompts viewers to perceive their physical attributes as emotionally charged entities that coexist within our lived experiences.

In 2012, the Personages was exhibited at Kukje Gallery in Seoul, underscoring their international appeal. Therefore, it is no surprise that Quarantania achieved a significant sale at Seoul Auction in 2018, fetching an equivalent of £6,565,665 (hammer).

£4.7M for Spider III


A steel spider sculpture with a robust body resting on the ground, its eight sturdy limbs balanced delicately on their tips, creating a static and stable pose.Image © Christie's / Spider III © Louise Bourgeois 1995

Spider III (1995) is a rare discovery in the art market. In Louise Bourgeois' anarchic sculptural practice, it was customary for the initial edition to be crafted from steel, often serving as a prototype or study before being cast in bronze. This specific steel sculpture stands resolute and robust, assuming the role of a guardian for its symbolic womb. Serving as an authentic testament to the artistic process, this steel sculpture realised a sale price of £4,733,750 (fees included) at Christie's in March 2018. This sale marked its second appearance on the secondary market, having previously fetched a price of £2,824,644 (fees included) at Christie's in May 2012.

A larger-sized bronze rendition of Spider III was auctioned for £4,521,050 (fees included) at Sotheby's in May 2016. Each of these three sales epitomises the escalating appreciation in value for these highly coveted works, firmly establishing their position among Bourgeois' most valuable and sought-after creations.

£4.5M for Spider I

($7,109,000 (USD))

A bronze cast spider sculpture climbing up a white wall, with one leg on the left side slightly bent, creating the illusion of movement.Image © Sotheby's / Spider I © Louise Bourgeois 1995

Spider I represents the zenith of Louise Bourgeois' widely lauded and highly sought-after Spider series. Presented as a wall-mounted relief, this creeping figure securely clings to the surface, with one of its eight limbs curving towards the right, imparting a sensation of upward mobility. Bourgeois strikes a harmonious equilibrium between these arachnids' unsettling and captivating facets, skillfully rendering their graceful movements and intricate anatomical structures with an air of refinement. Despite their disconcerting nature, these sculptures possess an undeniable magnetic allure. This piece realised a remarkable sum of £4,475,826 (fees included) at Sotheby's in November 2014.

£4.4M for Arch Of Hysteria

($5,617,300 (USD))

A polished bronze sculpture suspended from a barely visible string, depicting a headless body in an exaggerated arched pose. Its arms are extended and reaching towards its feet, creating a geometric circle shape.Image © Sotheby's / Arch Of Hysteria © Louise Bourgeois 1993

Departing noticeably from Louise Bourgeois' renowned spider works, Arch Of Hysteria (1993) is a testament to her ambition and sculptural prowess. Suspended with an airy grace, the headless figure radiates luminosity, its exaggerated arch and finely defined musculature baring its essence. The elongated arms extending backwards to the soles of the figure's feet exemplify the transcendent nature of the human form, reminding us of our existence as mere material beings. As the figure transforms into a literal circle, encompassing anatomical and geometric perfection, it seamlessly reverts to sculpture.

While most editions of this celebrated sculpture reside in private collections, a select few have found their place in museums. This work has been extensively exhibited, attesting to its broad appeal and widespread recognition. Arch Of Hysteria was sold at Sotheby's in May 2019, achieving a price of £4,388,572 (fees included).

£3.9M for Spider V

($5,550,000 (USD))

A steel spider sculpture displayed on the ground, featuring a thick body and legs that gradually taper to thin tips. The sculpture exudes a sense of weightlessness, with its body shifting upwards as if in a gaze.Image © Christie's / Spider V © Louise Bourgeois 1999

Returning to the arachnid forms that have become synonymous with Louise Bourgeois' artistic practice, Spider V (1999) stands out as one of her most renowned and commercially successful works. While this sculpture exhibits slight variations from its counterparts in size, it compensates with a robust body and a sense of weight that is elegantly balanced upon the tips of its legs. With a slightly heightened sense of fright and a greater semblance of lifelikeness, Spider V, crafted from steel, carries a distinctive presence. This work sold at Christie's in May 2021, realising £3,918,411 (fees included).

£3.0M for Black Flames

($3,420,000 (USD))

A black sculpture resembling a tall, skinny candle with three distinct parts. At the base, a sturdy foundation; in the middle, a slender column; and at the top, a flame-like structure. The sculpture evokes the image of a burning black candle.Image © Christie's / Black Flames © Louise Bourgeois 1947-1949

Black Flames (1947-1949) exhibits a totemic quality reminiscent of a burning candle while also hinting at an abstract human figure, consistent with her broader Personages series. Regardless of the specific interpretation, this artwork delves into the fundamental themes that permeate Bourgeois' entire body of work, encompassing notions of identity, family, desire, and fear. It exemplifies how these intricate concepts and emotions can be conveyed through the tactile qualities of materials.

Black Flames emerged from the renowned Paul G. Allen private collection, presented by Christie's in November 2022, achieving a substantial sum of £3,005,513 (fees included), solidifying its position as one of Bourgeois' most highly valued works.

£2.7M for Eye Benches I

($3,320,000 (USD))

Two large outdoor sculptures placed in a grassy park, slightly apart from each other. The sculptures have rounded shapes resembling eyeballs, featuring the corneas, pupils, and drooping eyelids.Image © Sotheby's / Eye Benches I © Sotheby's 1996-1997

Demonstrating her profound interest and dedicated exploration of the human mind and psyche, Louise Bourgeois's Eye Benches I (1996-1997) exemplifies her commitment to understanding the collective consciousness. As the title suggests, Eye Benches I portrays two open eyelids, symbolising the interconnectedness of human experiences. Bourgeois draws inspiration from her fascination with the profound impact of strangers meeting eye contact on the streets, leaving a lasting impression on one another. By transforming the sculpture into functional benches, she invites individuals to sit and engage in this uncanny form of voyeurism. This artwork offers a glimpse into Bourgeois's ceaseless depth of conceptual thinking, wherein she transforms abstract ideas into tangible creations that resonate within their chosen environment.

Eye Benches I stands among Bourgeois's most coveted and highest-selling works, having fetched £2,702,313 (fees included) at Sotheby's in June 2020.

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