Thursday, April 11, 2013
The Most Expensive Photos In the World (An Update)
Posted by Jay at 11:47 AM
About two years ago, this blog featured a list of the most expensive photographs ever sold. The post garnered plenty of comments regarding the market value of photographs versus their true value, as well as photography as an art form. Since that time, a few new (and old) photos have been auctioned off at record prices, and this quick update is meant to list down these additions to the list of most expensive photos in the world.
As a quick recap, the previous list of top ten most expensive photographs included "Nautilus" by Edward Weston, "Dovima with elephants" by Richard Avedon, "Untitled (Cowboy)" by Richard Prince, "Georgia O'Keeffe Nude" and "Georgia O'Keeffe (Hands)" Alfred Stieglitz. The top five had "Nude" by Edward Weston, "Kremlin of Tobolsk" by Dmitry Medvedev, "The Pond-Moonlight" by Edward Steichen, "99 Cent II Diptychon" by Andreas Gursky, and "Untitled #96" by Cindy Sherman $3.89 million. All told, these ten photographs are valued at just a little less than $20 million.
The new entries include this tintype photograph portrait of William H. Bonney, better known as Billy the Kid. This portrait, taken by an unknown photographer in Fort Sumner around 1879 or 1880, is now the 7th most expensive photo, having sold for $2.3 million. The photograph helped reinforce the myth that Billy the Kid was left-handed since his gun holster appears on his left side. This assumption is now disregarded as tintypes like this are mirror images, showing the left side on the right, and vice-versa.
Coming in at 6th most expensive photo is Cindy Sherman's Untitled #153 (the header image above). Sherman is a photographer-artist famed for her self-portraits in which she dresses up as other characters. This particular image fetched a price of $2.77 million, and gives her the distinction of having two photographs in the list as being the most expensive, the other being her Untitled #96, now the 2nd most expensive photo.
The 3rd most expensive photo in the world is Jeff Wall's Dead Troops Don't Talk (A Vision after an Ambush of a Red Army Patrol, near Moqor, Afghanistan, Winter 1986). Wall is a photographer specializing in extremely large-scale staged photographs. This entry into the list shows actors dressed as dead Soviet soldiers, and fetched a price of $3.6 million.
The new 1st place in the list of most expensive photos is Andreas Gursky's Rhein II. Just like Jeff Wall, Gursky's photographs are all large-scale reproductions, with this one scaling at 6 feet x 11 feet. His Rhein II shows the River Rhein photographed in parallel to the green fields and grey skies. Gursky's name was already on the list with his 99 cent II Diptychon, the first photograph to fetch a price of over $3 million. This image is in a league of its own however as it was sold for $4.3 million, making it the most expensive photograph ever sold.
The previous list of most expensive photos in the world can be found here. There are also a few features on the photographers behind these pricey images, namely Richard Avedon, Richard Prince, Edward Steichen, and Cindy Sherman.