Tuesday, June 14, 2011
The Most Expensive Photographs Ever Sold!
Posted by Jay at 2:24 PM
What would you do if you had $1 million? Buy a house? Splurge on a sportscar? For some people, they spend it all on a photograph. In some cases, they spend over $3 million for a single print. If you want to find out more about these multi-million dollar pictures, keep reading to see the world's most expensive photographs ever sold.
The above image just manages to join the list as it was sold for an even $1 million. The picture, entitled One, was made by photographer Peter Lik by capturing the reflections made around a riverbank in 2010. It would have made the top ten if it weren't for a recent addition just a few weeks ago. So, without further ado, here are the top ten most expensive photographs sold.
10) Nautilus by Edward Weston
Edward Weston was a pioneering photographer in the early 20th century, helping to advance the field with his works which ranged from portraits to landscapes to still lifes. In April 2010, a signed print of the above 1927 photograph of a seashell (which was hailed as an important photograph in the modernism movement and was originally sold for only $10) fetched a price of a little more than $1.082 million at a Sotheby's New York auction.
9) Dovima with elephants by Richard Avedon
Richard Avedon tops the list of most important fashion photographers of the 20th century. His influence on the style of editorial photography can still be seen in today's fashion magazines. The image of model Dovima in a Yves Saint-Laurent dress (designed for Christian Dior) against a herd of elephants as captured by Avedon made it into one of the most recognized photographs after it was made in 1955. It was sold for more than $1.151 million at a November 2010 auction at Christie's.
8) Untitled (Cowboy) by Richard Prince
Richard Prince is an artist famous for his rephotographed works wherein he photographs existing photos and alters them slightly (or sometimes not at all). The above image was originally taken by Sam Abell for the Marlboro Man campaign. Prince rephotographed and appropriated it in 1989. It sold for $1.248 million in a November 2005 auction at Christie's.
7) Georgia O'Keeffe Nude by Alfred Stieglitz
Alfred Stieglitz was another pioneering photographer who advocated for photography as an art form. This 1919 image shows the posed hands of artist Georgia O'Keefe (whom the photographer later married) sold for $1.360 million in Sotheby's New York in February 2006.
6) Georgia O'Keeffe (Hands) by Alfred Stieglitz
In the same auction as the preceding photograph, this image of Georgia O'Keeffe's posed hands also taken by Alfred Stieglitz fetched a price of $1.472 million.
5) Nude by Edward Weston
It seems that nudes are bigger sellers than still lifes, judging from this sale from the same photographer as the Nautilus which comes in at number 10 of this list. The above photograph of a nude taken in 1925 by Edward Weston sold for $1.609 million at Sotheby's in April 2008.
4) Kremlin of Tobolsk by Dmitry Medvedev
Yes, that Dmitry Medvedev. Aside from being the current President of the Russian Federation, Mr. Medvedev is also an amateur photographer. The 2009 aerial photograph of the kremlin (or stone fortress) in the town of Tobolsk, Russia sold for $1.7 million at a charity auction last year. You can find more of the President's photographs over at his personal website.
3) The Pond-Moonlight by Edward Steichen
Edward Steichen is better known for his outstanding portraiture work and fashion photographs (mostly for Vanity Fair) in the early 20th century, but his early experimental photographs are apparently worth more. This pictorialist landscape image was made in 1904 using autochrome, an early color photograph technique. It sold for $2.9 million at a Sotheby's New York auction in 2006, setting the record price for a photograph at that time.
2) 99 Cent II Diptychon by Andreas Gursky
Andreas Gursky is probably the best known contemporary artist who primarily uses large format photography. His trademark style is his huge reproductions of natural and manmade scenes. This record setting picture is a quintessential Gursky, being 6.79 feet x 11.07 feet when it was printed. When it was sold for more than $3.346 million at Sotheby's London to a private collector in 2007, it was the first photograph to fetch a price of over $3 million.
1) Untitled #96 by Cindy Sherman
Some might call this photograph of Cindy Sherman a self-portrait, although others might contest that designation. That is because most of Ms. Sherman's photographs feature herself as the model, each series featuring the photographer as a different person in order to convey a different message. This photograph taken in 1981 sold for $3.89 million at Christie's only a few weeks ago, making it the most expensive photograph ever sold (as of this post).
All told, these top ten most expensive photographs are valued at close to $20 million, most of which were sold only in the last decade. Of course, it's still half way through the year, and there are numerous old and new photos waiting to be auctioned off, so there's still a chance that this list will be modified. So the next time you think an old picture by some long dead photographer isn't worth much, just remember that some of the most expensive photographs ever sold fit that bill.