How much does it cost to get the materials to make an oil painting? What, a couple hundred dollars at most? You've got canvas, a stretcher-frame, brushes, lots of blobs of paint from little tubes, a few quarts of whiskey, and let's say six packs of smokes. But somehow, over time (and one can't help thinking of the "The Emperor's New Clothes" here), these seemingly low cost items, taken together, grow and grow and grow in value, until people are eventually barking out million dollar figures at Sotheby's for the privilege of hanging these materials on their walls. And these people are fully aware of the existence of both liquor and art supply stores.

So there must be something there that these people are seeing. Something that makes a painting more than just its composite materials. Is it the age-old wonder of catching lightning in a bottle, that frozen instant where genius casts its light in an ephemeral medium and is captured there for all to see? No, we didn't think you'd go for that. But whether it's a case of a bunch of rich people trying to out-do each other, or truth and beauty captured in colored oils, people have paid unbelievable amounts of money for these things, as you'll see in our list of . . . The Top Ten Most Expensive Paintings of all Time! By the way, these are all accurate as of February 28, 2000.

1. PAINTINGS 10 - 8

10. Self-Portrait: Yo Picasso

Artist: Pablo Picasso
Price tag: $43,500,000
Purchased: Sotheby's, New York (May 9th, 1989)

Yup, that's Picasso as in Pablo. You might have heard of him - bald little guy, lot's of mistresses? Anyway, remember the name, you'll be seeing a lot more of it before we're through.

This self-portrait was painted in 1901, around the same time as his good friend Casagemas' suicide, which led to his famous blue period, in which he had his handlers give him only the blue Smarties, and discard all the other colors. No, wait, that was the lead guitarist for Motley Cre.

Pablo, on the other hand, just got kinda sad for awhile and used the color blue a lot, and 88 years later, someone at Sotheby's moved their pinky finger at the wrong time, and BAM! $43+ million out of pocket.

By the way, the title of this painting is not the artist doing his Rocky Balboa impression; "Yo" means "I" in Spanish, so the title in English is "I Picasso." Personally, however, we here at have never picassoed, at least not in public.

9. Nude in a Black Armchair

Artist: Picasso
Price tag: $45,102,500
Purchased: Christie's, New York (November 9th, 1999)

Nude in a Black Armchair (Nu au fauteil noir) is from a series of portraits Picasso painted of one of his many mistresses (busy guy), Marie-Therese Walter. Looking at the painting, though, her own mother wouldn't recognize her, so he probably just told his wife that it was a tree. Supposedly, the woman is seated with her arms folded over her head in a suggestive pose, but as Pablo's art therapist may have said at the time, this guy is a few sandwiches short of a full picnic basket. And that's why his paintings are worth so much money today.

In another instance of crazy rich people rushing about trying to spend the most money, the day after this one sold, number 7 on our list was purchased for even more ridiculous amounts of cash. Always back to back, like lemmings. Rich monkey see, rich monkey do.

8. Le rve

Artist: Picasso
Price tag:$48,402,500
Purchased: Christie's, New York (November 10th, 1997)

There were two versions of "The Dream," which showed a bunch of curvy lines and semi-recognizable shapes making up a woman whose head is lolling to one side as she dreams a lovely dream. This one was painted in 1932, and there are rumors and unconfirmed reports floating around that maybe, possibly, by a small stretch of the imagination, it might have been one of his mistresses. Just maybe. Cubism was one of those great jokes on the world, a way for artists to mess around with different shapes and have fun, and then see what people say about the whole thing.

Don't you just love the formality of his anti-form? The way it breaks down any structural imposition or classicism? Isn't it wonderfully unrecognizable as any freakin' thing seen by human eyes? There are 48,402,500 good reasons to paint in the Cubist style, but unfortunately, we only thought of them after the artist had died.