Whether you can afford them or not, most likely you can’t, but I am sure you have wondered at least once – what are the most expensive things in the world. It might sound a bit materialistic, but where would you like to spend it if you had all the money? A diamond-studded watch or a private plane? Trust me, you can go beyond!
Money works in ways we can’t expect or understand. Especially when it comes to high-value stuff, you’ll be stunned by the price tags attached to some of them. Can you believe one UAE businessman paid a staggering $14.2 million on a license plate featuring just a single digit – the number 1?
Join me as we explore further and hunt down the most expensive things in the world.
20 Most Expensive Things in the World
Before we begin, it’s important to understand that some things are expensive, not just because of their manufacturing cost or the extraordinary technology that went into the production. At times, an item’s significance and historical importance play a huge role in shaping its price in the market.
In this compilation, I have included items from all domains, from man-made machines to historically significant gems. Let’s take a look:
1. ISS: $150 billion
ISS, or International Space Station, is by far the world’s most expensive man-made machine ever created by humans. This modular spacecraft has been orbiting around the Earth since 1998 and serving as a laboratory for scientific research in meteorology, astrobiology, astronomy, and astrophysics.
Coming to the cost, the project is funded and managed by five top space agencies from America, Japan, Canada, Europe, and Russia. Often dubbed as the most expensive thing in the universe, the ISS program has a cost of nearly $150 billion, shared by all five owners. This included research and development, engineering, manufacturing, and 36 space flights taken to establish the spacecraft into the Earth’s orbit.
The spacecraft is 109 meters long and 73 meters wide and weighs 450,000 kilograms. It’s unimaginable that our great scientists could push this giant into space. Well, money makes unimaginable things possible.
2. Itaipu Dam: $19.6 billion
Constricted as a collaboration between Brazil and Paraguay, Itaipu Dam is the largest and most expensive artificial creation. Located out of the town named Ciudad del Este in Paraguay, the dam is built on the Parana River, and its curves are nearly 8 km long and 196 meters in height.
The project was accomplished between 1975 and 1982, and at that time, it cost nearly $20 Billion; you can do the maths and figure out the current value of it.
Itaipu Dam is among the world’s largest hollow gravity dams and can generate nearly 14,000 megawatts of electricity.
3. Hubble: $11.3 billion
Don’t we love gazing into space through the powerful lenses of a telescope? But what if we’re talking about the world’s most expensive telescope that costs more than $10 billion?
The Hubble Telescope was designed by the American space agency NASA with the contribution of the European Space Agency between 1970 and 1980. The entire project cost around $11.3 billion, which doesn’t even include the repair and maintenance expenses that have been going on for more than 3 decades.
Named after a well-known astronomer, Edwin Hubble, the telescope currently operates in Earth’s orbit and is expected to last for another 15 to 20 years. Over time, Hubble has captured the universe in astonishing detail, resulting in mind-blowing discoveries and breakthroughs in astrophysics.
4. The History Supreme: $4.2 billion
Yachts are considered a luxury among high-profile businessmen, sports personalities, and celebrities. Still, even they would think twice before buying the History Supreme, the world’s most expensive yacht with a staggering price tag of $4.2 billion.
The yacht was designed by Stuart Hughes, known for his luxury designs, and it took nearly 3 years to complete. There is no reward for guessing; the yacht is made of solid gold and platinum, including elements like the dining area, railings, deck, and even the anchor. The interior also contains statues crafted with rare dinosaur bones because why not?
It’s highly unlikely that a gem like that will ever set sail upon open waters. Nevertheless, since 2011, it has remained the most expensive item in the world, at least in the boating industry.
5. Koh-i-Noor: $1-$3 billion
Have you ever wondered how much the central piece in the crown of the British Empire cost? The gemstone is Koh-i-Noor, one of the largest diamonds ever mined from the earth. Although its exact price is not confirmed, it’s estimated to be over $1 billion in current market valuation.
Koh-i-noor, meaning Mountains of Light, is believed to be over 5000 years old. Historians say the diamond was extracted from the Kollu mine in Andhra Pradesh, India. Since then, this precious gem changed several owners, passing from Mughal emperors to Khilji Dynasts before finally ending in the hands of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Eventually, it was surrendered to Queen Victoria.
Over the years, the 105.6-carat diamond has undergone a few modifications to give it a conventional look to fit in the British crown. Interestingly, India, Afghanistan, and Pakistan have been claiming the Koh-i-Noor for many decades years. Why wouldn’t they? It’s the World’s most expensive gemstone, after all!
6. Antilia: $2 billion
An average house in the posh New York area costs between $3,00,000 and $5,00,000. Now imagine a house worth over $2 billion – I am talking about the world’s most expensive private residential property – Antilia.
India’s richest business tycoon, Mukesh Ambani, owns Antilia, a 27-story building in Mumbai, India’s financial hub. The building has state-of-the-art architecture and is designed to withstand an earthquake of magnitude 8.
Out of 27, only the top 6 stories are private residential spaces. The whole structure is 173 meters tall and over 6,000 square meters. It also includes parking for 168 cars, a 50-seat theater, 50 high-speed elevators, a swimming pool, a health center, a temple, a snow room, terrace gardens, and a ballroom. My only question is – Do the Ambani family members need to go out?
7. B-2 Spirit: $997 million
Aviation and the Military usually play with substantial funds, but have you ever heard of a plane costing nearly a billion dollars?
B-2 Spirit, also known as Stealth Bomber, is a heavy strategic bomber in the United States Army that was designed and manufactured between 1987 and 2000. The aircraft can deploy conventional and thermonuclear bombs weighing over 1000 kilograms.
Apart from its destructive qualities, the aircraft is also popular for its top-tier price tag, estimated at around $2.13 billion in total, including the cost of development, engineering, and testing. However, each B-2 Spirit plane costs around $997 million to produce, which makes it the world’s most expensive military aircraft. A fleet of twenty B-2 Spirit planes is in operation, and the US government plans to run them until 2031.
8. Villa Leopolda: $410 million
Guess the price of a villa where the furniture alone amounts to $20 million? Villa Leopolda is among the world’s most expensive residential properties, mainly due to its historical importance.
The Villa Leopolda is a lavish estate in Villefranche-sur-Mer within the French Riviera. This exceptional 18-acre residential property was owned by several notable figures, including Izaak, Dorothy J. Killam, Gianni and his wife, and a Brazilian-Monegasque billionaire, Lily Safra.
The villa was designed and constructed between 1929 and 1931 under the direction of a popular American architect, Ogden Codman Jr. Its name comes from King Leopold II of Belgium.
Known for its architectural legacy, the world’s most expensive villa has appeared in many popular movies, including The Red Shoes (1948) and To Catch a Thief (1955).
9. Boeing Business Jet: $300 million
Air travel is expensive, but would you shell out over $50,000 for a single flight? With Dream Jet BBJ 787, you must, if you ever can.
Boeing Business Jet is a series of custom private planes typically used by private entities, heads of government, and corporate executives. The first BBJ 737-700 was introduced in July 1989 and completed its maiden flight in November of the same year. With $300 million a piece, it’s the world’s Most Expensive Private Plane.
These 200+ square feet high-end planes have a seating capacity of 20-50 people and include amenities like private bedrooms, fully-equipped bathrooms, dining areas, fitness centers, conference halls, living areas, and much more. The plane is capable of flying for 20 hours without any pit stops.
Boeing has delivered 190 BBJs, among which 188 are in operation, mostly by the governments of India, the USA, Poland, Mexico, Colombia, and more.
10. The Card Players: $250 million
Another French artistic heritage, The Card Players, is a series of oil paintings by a worshipped French artist, Paul Cézanne. Interestingly, he created these paintings in his last life stage, just a few years before his death. But what about the market value?
One of these five paintings was sold to the Royal Family of Qatar in 2011 at $250 million, establishing it as the world’s most expensive oil painting ever.
Each painting features French peasants playing card games while smoking cigarettes and pipes. These portraits caught attention for their out-of-the-league depiction, devoid of drama, narrative, and typical characterization. Each member in every painting is looking downward, indicating an ongoing game.
Out of five, three paintings feature a game between the two and the presence of alcohol alcohol, slightly different from the one that was sold. A remarkable 17th-century masterpiece. But worth $250 million? I’ll let you decide.
11. Nafea Faa Ipoipo: $210 million
The next item is for art adorers. How much would you pay for a historically celebrated oil painting? What about $210 million?
Nafea Faa Ipoipo, or When Will You Marry, is an oil painting in 1892 by the celebrated French impressionist Paul Gauguin. The painting showcases two native Tahitian women, characterized by their distinctive facial features and postures, offering a glimpse into the life of the Tahitian natives before the 1900s.
Initially, Gauguin’s masterpiece met with somewhat mixed opinions. Can you believe Gauguin placed this painting for sale for 1,500 francs, which went unsold? Eventually, an individual art collector named Staechelin purchased it in 1917 from an art gallery in Geneva.
In 2015, the painting was privately sold to Qatar’s Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad Al-Thani for a staggering $210 million, making it the world’s most expensive painting sold at an auction.
12. L’homme au doight: $141.3 million
Bronze is not among the most expensive metals in the world, but can you guess how much a 180cm bronze sculpture was sold for? The answer is $141.3 million. So, what is so special about it which makes it the world’s most expensive sculpture?
L’Homme au doigt, also known as The Man with the Finger, was crafted by a famous Swiss Sculptor Alberto Giacometti in 1947. American real estate billionaire Sheldon Solow possessed the artwork for nearly half a century and eventually sold it for an unbelievable $141.3 million, the highest price ever achieved for a metal sculpture.
However, this art is more intriguing because the entire structure was created within nine hours. The scripture features a 6-foot slender figure pointing to the right with its index finger.
Giacometti made six casts of this masterpiece, three preserved in Art Museums in New York, London, and Iowa (United States).
13. 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO: $70 million
Attention automobile enthusiasts! The next high-priced item on my list is a beautiful red Ferrari manufactured between 1962 and 1964. Ferrari, as we all know, is famous for its luxury and high-performance racing cars, but would you pay $70 million for one?
The Ferrari 250 GTO is a grand tourer (designed for high-speed and long-distance driving) by Ferrari, which was priced at a staggering $18,000 back in its day. Powered by Ferrari’s iconic Tipo 168/62 Colombo V12 engine, this automobile has won several accolades for the finest sports car ever made by humans.
Each of its buyers was personally approved by then Ferrari’s head, Enzo Ferrari, and his authorized dealer in the United States. In June 2018, the Ferrari 250 GTO (1963) was sold for an incredible $70 million, making it the world’s most expensive sports car ever.
14. L’Incomparable: $55 million
If you are willing to please your woman with the world’s most expensive necklace, be prepared to write a cheque for a mind-boggling $55 million.
They were designed by Lebanese jeweler Mouawad. L’Incomparable houses the largest diamond in the world, weighing in at over 400 carats. That’s not all; to compliment this stunning gem, 102 smaller diamonds give it a breathtaking look overall.
The necklace is a piece of art featuring 18-carat rose gold branches that interconnect the central diamond piece with the smaller ones, creating a botanical shape. According to the reports, the necklace was gifted by Indian billionaire philanthropist Mukesh Ambani to his daughter-in-law in 2019.
Mouawad is known for its high-end, exquisite jewelry. It holds an impressive five Guinness world record for creating seriously priced pieces, including the most expensive jewelry box, bra, pearl-shaped diamond, and more.
15. Graff Diamonds Hallucination: $55 million
Every watch on earth shows the exact time of your time zone, and so does this $55 million diamond-studded timepiece – Graff Diamonds Hallucination. But why is it the world’s most expensive watch?
Although many luxury watch brands produce ultra-pricey timepieces, it takes something exceptional to justify a price tag of $55 million. The Graff Diamonds Hallucination is a tiny watch encircled by many breathtaking, colorful diamonds. Calling this beauty merely a watch is a bit of an understatement. Nevertheless, if you take your eyes off the stunning diamond work, it’s there. The watch mechanism is precise and doesn’t require frequent winding or battery replacement.
To add to its beauty, the diamonds feature different shapes and colors, ranging from vibrant orange and pink to serene light blue and pristine white.
16. Falcon Supernova iPhone 6 Pink Diamond: $48.5 million
Hold tight, Gadget lovers! Do you think the latest iPhone 15 Pro Max is expensive? How about the one with a jaw-dropping price of nearly $50 million? Sounds crazy.
Designed and marketed by American design studio Falcon Luxury, the Supernova iPhone 6 Pink Diamond claims the title of the most expensive phone in the world, costing an unbelievable $48.5 million. Although Apple manufactures the smartphone, Falcon has customized it head to toe, transforming it into the world’s most expensive phone.
This exclusive phone is covered with platinum and 24-carat gold, with an emerald-cut pink diamond embedded on the back panel. This limited-edition phone was purchased by India’s richest man, Muken Ambani’s wife, Nita Ambani, the same family who owns the world’s richest house, as mentioned in this article. Well, it’s a perfect phone to use in that kind of house.
17. The Codex Leicester: $30 million:
The name Leonardo da Vinci is associated with history and heritage. No wonder anything written or drawn by him commands a significant cash value in today’s market. But can you guess the price of the world’s most expensive manuscript handwritten by him?
Interestingly, the manuscript was named after the first buyer, Thomas Coke, 1st Earl of Leicester, who acquired it in 1717. This 72-page document explains the relationship between art and science, encapsulating the spirit of scientific progress in the 17th century. This treasure, written by Vinci, features his theories and observations on astronomy, water, geology, air, celestial light, and more.
On 11th November 1994, Microsoft owner Bill Gates purchased the manuscript for nearly $30 million, marking a record-breaking price for any written work in the annals of history.
18. 1933 Double Eagle: $18.9 million:
How much is the $20 worth? It’s nearly 1 million times more if it’s in the form of a rare coin. We are talking about the 1933 Double Eagle, the world’s most expensive yet the smallest item.
In 1933, the US government passed an act in which the Gold coins, including the Saint-Gaudens double eagle, were no longer legal tender. Although people were supposed to turn their coins to the government, most were melted or destroyed, except two. Over the years, nearly 20 such coins were recovered and preserved by the US government.
Only one of these rarest of the rare coins was sold to a private collector in 2022 for a price of $7.59 million. On June 21, the coin was sold again to an anonymous buyer for a record-breaking sum of $18.9 million, the highest ever for a coin. Owning this coin is illegal, but would someone willingly turn up a $20 million coin? I don’t think so.
19. Lady Blunt Stradivarius: $15.9 million:
The Lady Blunt is a violin that belongs to the renowned Italian family Stradivari. It was crafted by a celebrated Stradivarius, Luthier Antonio, in 1721, making it one of the oldest intact musical instruments from the 17th century.
The violin derives its name from its first known owner, Lady Anne Blunt, who was the co-owner of the popular horse breeding farm Crabbet Arabian Stud. Over the years, the violin changed hands several times, generating staggering amounts every single time. The first auction was held in 1971, where it was sold for nearly $2,00,000. In 2008, Nippon Music Foundation bought it for an astonishing $10 million.
Finally, it was put to auction for a charity in response to the 2011 Tsunami and Earthquake. Tarisio Auctions organized the online sale and fetched an incredible $15.9 million, 4 times more than the previous highest amount for a Stradivarius violin, making it the world’s most expensive musical instrument ever.
20. Neiman Marcus Limited Edition Fighter: $11 million:
How expensive a motorcycle can be? Behold, as we will talk about the world’s most expensive two-wheeler marvel ever to grace the streets.
Interestingly, the American luxury department store Neiman Marcus, not an automobile company, designed this motorcycle. Nevertheless, the vehicle is powered by a 120ci 45-degree air-cooled V-Twin engine and can reach a jaw-dropping speed of 300 km/h in seconds. The motorcycle’s clockwork aesthetics are a sight to behold, featuring components predominantly made from titanium, aluminum, and carbon fiber, giving it a formidable and distinctive appearance.
In an auction, the Fighter had an initial price tag of $110,000. However, it managed to bag nearly 100 times more, $11 million, making it the world’s Most Expensive Motorcycle. The unparalleled interest was due to its extraordinary design and the fact that 45 of these extraordinary machines were ever produced.
Frequently Asked Questions:
For 1,250,000, The Dracula 1931 poster is the costliest thing on Amazon right now.
The Charles I plaque, listed for $7.7 million, is currently the most expensive item on eBay. However, the product page doesn’t have enough information regarding the product.
Leonardo da Vinci’s painting Salvator Mundi fetched nearly $450 million, making it the most expensive item sold at an auction.
At a price of nearly $62.5 trillion/gram, Antimatter is the most expensive material.
There you go! These were the 20 most expensive things. While some justify their price tags due to their production cost, others just caught the attention for their limited availability, age, legal status, legacy, and historical significance.
One can’t understand why a buyer would pay millions for a hand-written paper or a tiny gold coin. Still, a community of professional collectors and art adorers would pay top dollar for such artifacts. Nevertheless, there is one thing in common between these individuals – they are rich!
I am Afzal Zaheer , a freelance content developer with over 13 years of experience. ‘Choice of Words’ are important to bring the exact meaning and I am passionate to bring the ‘best’ for binding the interest of readers. I always aim to guide the budding content developers as a way of giving back to the love and respect I have got in my journey.