Top 10 Photos ever sold

In a recent publication, I read an article with specifics on the top 10 photographs ever sold at auction. Boy, was I ever surprised! Andreas Gursky tops the list out with his photo of a 99 cent store and he is alive! Why, I believe there’s hope for me yet. I wonder if there are any rubber duck connoisseurs with lots of bucks…anyone?

I was happy to see Edward Steichen in there and of course, the Godfather of Photography…Stieglitz with Georgia as his muse. Here’s the line-up:

1. Andreas Gursky, 99 Cent II Diptychon, 2001, $3,346,456, Sotheby’s in Feb. 2007

2. Edward Steichen, The pond, moonlight, 1904, $2,928,000, Sotheby’s in Feb. 2006

3. Andreas Gursky, 99 Cent II Diptychon, 2001, $2,480,000, Phillips de Pury in Nov. 2006

4. Andreas Gursky, 99 Cent, 1999, $2,256,000, Phillips de Pury in Nov. 2006

5. Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O’Keeffe (Hands), $1,472,000, Sotheby’s in Feb. 2006

6. Edward Curtis, The North American Indian, $1,416,000, Christie’s in Oct. 2005

7. Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O’Keeffe (Nude), $1,360,000, Sotheby’s in Feb. 2006

8. Richard Prince, Untitled (Cowboy), 1989, $1,248,000, Nov. 2005

9. Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey (well La-De-Da), 113. Athenes (1842), T.[emple] de J.[upiter] Olympien. pris de l’Est, $922,488, Christie’s in May 2002

10. Gustave Le Gray, The Great Wave, Stet (1857), $838,000, Sotheby’s in April 2001

If I had an endless supply of cash, Number 5 would proudly hang in my home and I would have paid anything to own it.

Number 9 took me so long to type that I wouldn’t bother:)

5 Responses to “Top 10 Photos ever sold”

  1. Great post! I love viewing the photos at your links. Isn’t it amazing to read the history of photography and know that photos are commanding that kind of money these days? There is nothing like before-digital, nuts and bolts photography.

    The Steichen is breathtaking. I hope people check it out at your link.

    I agree about #5 – Georgia’s hands. Stunning. Maybe we can go in together and buy it, then do a time-share. 8)

    Keep up the good work over here. I’m adding you to our blogroll.

  2. Edward S. Curtis, Legendary Photographer, What no Photoshop?

    Curtis didn’t use a Canon or Nikon SLR, but made his images with a 6 1/2 x 8 1/2 Premo reversible back camera. It had a 22″ bellows, and a ground glass back. It took at least 15 minutes to set up a picture, and his fastest shutter speed was 1/100th of a second. He didn’t have a “healing” or “cloning” tool, sharpening, curves, or levels… neither Photoshop nor the computer, or the CCD had been invented yet. My God! How did he do it?

    For as much criticism as this man has received in the last century, it leads one to think that perhaps he did create a little magic. Perhaps he was on to something in the photographic world.

    The beginnings of the modern west certainly resonate in the works of Edward S. Curtis. His photos were made at a time when Indians already driven from their lands were being shorn from their cultures.

    This history is very apparent in a new film on Curtis’s works, THE INDIAN PICTURE OPERA, (Amazon, DVD). In it, his images are explained in his own words. It’s a re-creation of a 1911 E.S. Curtis lecture and slide show.

    This film goes way beyond the images in showing how the west was transformed. It was a last grasp at recapturing was he called the “vanishing race”. Ironic that Curtis’s works were underwritten by J.P. Morgan, who helped bankroll expansion of railroads into America’s west.

    A journey into the past is always enlightening. Even though photography has been reinvented by digital, it’s golden age was a century ago.

  3. Jay,
    Great comments and thanks so much for the insight into Curtis. I checked out the body of his work and was amazed at the beautiful tonal values he achieved with the primitive tools of the time. While I’m very familiar with the other two Masters, I wasn’t sure from the sites I viewed on Curtis which photo was the actual one sold at auction. Since his entire book was called North American Indian, if you can enlighten me, I will add the link.

    And QuoinMonkey, I am no author, simply a bad actor here to entertain family, friends and those who fall victim to my colorful tag…but you do me great honor. I will try to entertain while I’m feeling the pressure of mis-spelled words and will have to lean on Mr Webster for guidance. I sincerely hope the property value of Red Ravine does not fall:)

    But the time share idea…I’m definitely in…I’ll start mowing lawns tomorrow…

  4. Jay, thanks for the tip on the Curtis DVD, The Indian Picture Opera. I’ll keep my eye out for it. The detail and dignity of the images he captured have always been an inspiration to me. I could look at them for hours. Quite a bit of irony in the J.P. Morgan piece. You sure know a lot about him.

    Heather, I guess shoveling snow is out of the question down there. It’s going to take us a few years to earn the money. I guess I’ll have to start delivering papers.

  5. Avenuestudio:

    I believe that what sold for 1.41 million was the entire set of The North American Indian. So its 20 books, and the portfolio photographs that go with the volumes. All together over 2000 photogravures.

    More on The Indian Picture Opera, here is a YouTube film clip:


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