8 Most Expensive Tattoos You Can Buy in the World

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Helmut Simon was hiking along the Alps when he found something in the snow. The form appeared to be human, and Simon quickly realized he was looking at a body frozen in the glacier beneath his feet.

The corpse was face-down in the rock-solid ice. Simon assumed he was looking at a modern-day tragedy, a hiker dead on the mountain. But when authorities arrived, it became clear that the body was anything but modern. The 5,000-year-old corpse was mummified by the ice, a piece of history literally frozen in time.

As experts examined the body, 61 tattoos were discovered. This proved that tattoos have been around for thousands of years and set a new record for the oldest tattoo ever discovered.

Today, tattoos are common across the globe. In the Philippines, Whang-Od Oggay is famous for practicing a historic tattooing tradition in the Kalinga region. At age 105 as of 2022, the artist is helping an ancient art form thrive.

When it comes to prices, modern tattoos can be expensive — people are willing to pay for the dedication of a skilled artist.

From celebrity favorites to industry legends, the artists on this list offer the most expensive tattoos you can buy.

8. Scott Campbell

Tattoo Price: $200 per hour
Artist Location: Los Angeles
Specialty: Geometric designs and skulls
Interesting Fact: Scott Campbell has tattooed Heath Ledger
Scott Campbell
photo source:vogue.com

It’s a little hard to categorize an artist as versatile as Scott Campbell, but there’s a good chance you’ll discover geometric designs and skulls in his studio. The artist has been tattooing since 1998, and his skill is undeniable.

Celebrities like Penelope Cruz, Orlando Bloom, and the late Heath Ledger have all been inked by the artist — and for a pretty penny. Estimates vary, and your final price would depend on the tattoo you get, but Scott Campbell easily charges $200 per hour.

Did you know?

In 2016, Scott Campbell offered free tattoos to lucky clients. But there was a catch. Campbell would tattoo whatever he wanted, and you couldn’t see the design until he was done. One reporter at Vogue participated in the art project and called her tattoo “stunning.”

7. Mike Rubendall

Tattoo Price: $200 per hour
Artist Location: Manhattan
Specialty: Japanese, horror, and neo-traditional designs
Interesting Fact: This artist founded Kings Avenue Tattoo
Mike Rubendall
photo source:kingsavetattoo.com

Mike Rubendall is known for his combination of traditional Japanese motifs and horror-inspired designs. Think koi fish mixed with demons.

Rubendall says he likes bold designs, “[it’s] colorful, and you can see it from across the street. It’ll look good forever.” He also says he spends a lot of time researching his artwork, “If you’re going to do it, you should do it correctly, and with respect for the culture.”

Rubendall often works at a large scale. Many of his designs take up a person’s entire back, some even spread down the legs and across the arms. The artist charges about $200 per hour for his work, and these big pieces take at least 30 hours. That means a Mike Rubendall tattoo easily costs thousands.

Did you know?

This artist has won more than 50 awards from organizations across the globe for his master tattooing.

6. Ami James

Tattoo Price: $250 per hour
Artist Location: Miami
Specialty: Black and gray
Interesting Fact: James founded Tattoodo
Ami James
photo source:inkedmag.com

Ami James is a tattoo artist and founder of Tattoodo, a website and app helping people find their ideal tattoo artist. James gained international notoriety in the early 2000s when he joined the reality TV show “Miami Inked.”

James’ style varies, but the artist specializes in black and gray designs. He also offers Japanese styles.

Today, James is still actively tattooing and running Tattoodo. James is excited about tattoos getting more mainstream even since his time on “Miami Inked,” and he’s proud of the role the show played in getting tattoos out in the open. “People got the chance to see the behind the scenes of the studio…so that made them more interested in tattoos and maybe less afraid to go into a shop to actually get one.”

At $250 per hour, Ami James sells the sixth-most expensive tattoos on the market.

Did you know?

As of 2018, Tattoodo had more than 4 million users and over 300,000 artists.

5. Paul Booth

Tattoo Price: $300 per hour
Artist Location: New York City
Specialty: Horror, gothic, realistic, and grayscale
Interesting Fact: Booth has tattooed members of bands like Slipknot
Paul Booth
photo source:youtube.com

Paul Booth is a legendary tattoo artist known for his horror and gothic-style designs. His work can be seen on members of Slayer, Sepultura, Slipknot, and more (he even created Corey Taylor’s famous chest tattoo).

With such a big fanbase, you’ll probably have to wait in line for about two years before getting an appointment with Booth.

When it comes to prices, Booth’s tattoos are as expensive as they are famous. The artist charges at least $300 per hour — but that price can go up depending on the project. Plus, Booth’s tattoos are often really detailed (a.k.a. time-consuming). That means you could easily spend thousands on a Booth tattoo.

Did you know?

Paul Booth says he’ll never tattoo someone’s face. 

4. Stephanie Tamez

Tattoo Price: $400 per hour
Artist Location: New York City
Specialty: Typography
Interesting Fact: Stephanie Tamez learned how to tattoo in California
Stephanie Tamez
photo source:shoutoutdfw.com

At $400 per hour, Stephanie Tamez sells the fourth-most expensive tattoos in the world. The multi-disciplined artist learned the craft of tattoo art in California before moving to New York City where she became co-owner of Saved, a tattoo shop.

Beyond tattoos, Tamez creates paintings, photographs, mixed-media work, and more. The artist currently works at This Time Tmrw, a studio in Brooklyn.

Did you know?

Stephanie Tamez says surrounding herself with like-minded artists has been a big contributor to her success, “[I made] The decision to very consciously be around artist[s] that are thinking outside the box but still have a respect and understanding of the history and traditions of the craft.”

3. Anil Gupta

Tattoo Price: $450 or more
Artist Location: New York City
Specialty: Realism and portraits
Interesting Fact: Gupta moved to the U.S. from India in the ‘90s
Anil Gupta
photo source:heartworktattoofestival.com

We made it to the top three! First up is Anil Gupta, an artist from India who moved to the U.S. in 1991. Gupta is known for his attention to detail and incredible precision. His work is often realistic, although the artist also makes more abstract designs.

No matter the style, Gupta is expensive — the skilled artist charges at least $450 for a tattoo, but you could easily drop more than a grand at his studio.

Did you know?

Gupta often makes hyper-realistic portraits, but the artist is also noted for his tattoos styled after tribal images and Celtic knotwork (symbolic geometric designs).

2. Keith Scott McCurdy (Bang Bang)

Tattoo Price: At least $600
Artist Location: New York City
Specialty: Bang Bang works in a variety of styles
Interesting Fact: This artist has tattooed a bunch of celebrities
Keith Scott McCurdy (Bang Bang)
photo source:thecut.com

Keith Scott McCurdy has tattooed a lot of famous people. The artist, also known as Bang Bang, is behind ink on everyone from Adele and Rihanna to LeBron James, Katy Perry, Justin Beiber, and many more. The high-profile artist runs Bang Bang tattoo shop in New York and charges at least $600 per tattoo.

With so many rich and famous clients, it can be pretty hard to get a tattoo from Bang Bang himself. Instead, you can get one from one of the many artists hired by Bang Bang, including several with specialties like fine-line art and realism.

Did you know?

Bang Bang has tattooed Selena Gomez.

1. Don Ed Hardy

Tattoo Price: $1,000 or more
Artist Location: California
Specialty: Modern American tattoo styles
Interesting Fact: Hardy is considered one of the most important American tattoo artists
Don Ed Hardy
photo source:sharksink.com

Don Ed Hardy makes the most expensive tattoos you can buy in the world. 

Hardy is a legend. The iconic artist wanted to make tattoos since childhood, but American culture in the ‘50s was very skeptical of the art form. Hardy pursued his passion anyway and began his tattooing career in the ‘60s.

As one biography puts it, “[Hardy] helped change American tattooing from a fringe behavior into [a mainstream one].” A big part of Hardy’s revolutionary approach included discussing art with the client. The artist would explore designs, draft ideas, and consider symbolic significance before putting ink to skin. That might be a typical approach today, but it was a big deal in those years.

Today, Hardy is mostly retired. The master artist told SFGATE that he occasionally offers small tattoos for about a thousand dollars, but he’s focused on enjoying time with his wife. When Hardy was still creating large-scale tattoos, the process often took weeks to complete. Anyone lucky enough to get a design by the veteran artist would easily pay thousands of dollars.

Did you know?

Don Ed Hardy is the man behind the Ed Hardy brand, a fashion house that saw massive success in the early 2000s through today.


Head of Content at Rarest.org


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