Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Most Expensive Photographs Ever Sold!


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.

42 comments:

thenitefalls said...

Wow it blows my mind how expensive these single photographs are O_O, maybe I should start doing my own photography!

The Angry Lurker said...

Some of them are nice but the prices are depressing.

Guy Movie Blogger said...

Look at Medvedev being a true Renaissance Man! I had absolutely no idea the guy was a photographer.

Dejch said...

Ehm ok.. it looks great but still that kind of money for a painting or a picture.. cmon, NEVER.

Speedy Ed said...

ddamnnn, that second one is so crazy.. originally sold for $10 then resold later for over $1million !!!! quite a markup :P

Astronomy Pirate said...

I gotta say, I like 'The Pond-Moonlight' the most. I can't understand paying that much for a modern photograph, but some of the older formats, I can see the draw.

Esun said...

Very thanks. Interesting stuff!

I also didnt know Medvedev was a amateur photograph.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Once again proving that you don't have to be smart to be rich.

movie68 said...

That's insane to spend that much for a photo

Fang said...

It still baffles me sometimes how freaking much some people are willing to pay for a single piece of art..

Generally Disgruntled said...

I'd pay that much more number 7. Nothing classier than Georgia O'Keefe getting nuded up

Intraman said...

The Pond-Moonlight is really beautiful. completely my style. The pictures by Medvedev are good but nothing that special, i'm guessing it wouldn't have fetched that much in a regular auction

HiFi said...

Dude, this makes me want to go and take photographs now.

Shutterbug said...

I like the one with the elephants.

@Bonjour Tristesse: And you don't have to be rich to be smart! ;)

Daniel said...

madness? this is spaaarrtttttaaaaaaaaaaa

Quetopia said...

I guess when you get to a certain level of income it doesn't matter anymore.

AllenTesch said...

I wish I knew enough about photography to understand why these were that valuable to some people.

Alphabeta said...

Some very impressive and interesting photos, but seriously, d/load a high res and print it out, save a few quid for the kids' college fees.

Banacek said...

Wow. I can think of other things to spend a million dollars on.

MRanthrope said...

most of the classic photos are pretty good...but REALLY, the 99 cent store one sold for a fortune? wow. haha

Moobeat said...

dang

Jacob said...

"Dovima with elephants" is really famous!

DocStout said...

Very surprised that I'd never seen any of these. Great research here.

D4 said...

Some of these, I can see as masterful pieces. I'd understand the pricing and everything. Others, well, a bit much for me? But I'm sure it's all different in person.

I actually like the last one best. Expensive taste, eh?

jblogger45 said...

i wish i was that rich

ed said...

im sure these pieces of art go up in value with time

T. Roger Thomas said...

That 99 cent store photo to me stands out as being completely out of place on this list.

Some impressive works here!

Malkavian said...

Great pics but really? that much money?? the Kremlin one looks great i may add. i agree completely with T. Roger Thomas

Simon black said...

Think the cowboy one was the best.

duffboi said...

These are kewl pics. It's amazing to see how much money some people will spend on a photo!

A Heel in Mint said...

Amazing pictures!

xx
Heel in Mint

Jammer said...

I hope to have $1million to use to buy art.

Laughing Vault said...

thats amazing! first picture is my favorite

Reilly said...

Fuck, have to study for my photography exam. Thanks for the reminder ;)

Trolske said...

Wow. I wouldn't spent so much money on photographs Oo

LasseEA said...

I love the abstract nature of these pictures, fascinating, mavelous! followed

Sean said...

Sometimes I remember why I hate the art world. People can't just appreciate the art, they have to put labels and prices and meanings that aren't there into them.

TIMMYTHEROBOT said...

Why would anyone spend that much money - nuts.

VersionDouble said...

thats incredible money

Dale said...

Wow this is so interesting. I could never imagine spending that much on art. Number 2 and 3 are my favorite, I love the 99 cent store pic. and #1 totally brought back some childhood memories because my family used to have that exact same flooring in our kitchen. I hated it. I see it occasionally in movies or 90's tv shows and wonder why anyone would put that multicolored brown linoleum in their house..haha . Weird.
Dale

Anonymous said...

It's not the matter of money. It's the fact of honorating photography as legal part of the fine arts. To understand the Singular prices, it is necessary to know the ranking of the shown picture in the work of the artist. By example, 99 Cent is a keywork of Gursky, representing the way of his art. Anybody will accept this, staying in front of the original.

akmal niazi khan said...

Girls fashion and their age are always inversely proportional. You have fantastic stuff on this blog that keep the girls young and beautiful with you fashion tips. Being a fashion artist I really appreciate your efforts and work.
Love from Royal Lady

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