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Worthy Shots: 15 Most Expensive Photographs Ever Sold

Who does not love to see beautiful photographs! But how much you want to spend to buy a picture? Those who know the exact meaning of photography and love the art, they would spend millions of dollars. Yes, the cost can reach that high. For the photography lovers, a beautiful photo which also has a story means a lot than money. Yes, of course, those people have lots of cash; otherwise, every photograph lover can’t afford that luxury.

Here’s a list of 15 most expensive photographs in the world.

Phantom by Peter Lik (1999) – $6,500,000

Phantom by Peter Lik (1999)

Australian photographer Peter Lik is known for his panoramic landscape photography. He took the photograph in 1999 in Arizona’s Anteloe Canyon. The photo depicts a beautiful black and white scene capturing a ghost-like cloud of dust.

Rhein II by Andreas Gursky (1999) – $4,338,500

Rhein II by Andreas Gursky (1999)

This masterpiece was photographed by Andreas Gursky and sold for $4,338,500 million at Christie’s in 2011. Most of the picture has been edited and photo-shopped. Gursky removed many of the elements that were damaging the composition, such as trees, people and building. He claimed, “A fictitious construction was required to provide an accurate image of a modern river.”

Untitled #96 by Cindy Sherman (1981) – $3,890,500

Untitled #96 by Cindy Sherman (1981)

It was also sold in 2011 at a price of $3,890,500 at Christie’s. Sherman didn’t give any title to her work in order to allow viewer’s interpretation.

Dead Troops Talk by Jeff Wall (1992) – $3,666,500

Dead Troops Talk by Jeff Wall (1992)

This work of Wall is a montage made in 1992. He was known to create imagined scenes which had a truth. It was sold at Christie’s for $3,666,500 in 2012. The photograph envisioned the aftermath of an ambush of a Red Army patrol near Moqor, Afghanistan in 1986. It depicts bloodied and mutilated soldiers from Russia’s Red Army conversing on the side of a Rocky hill.

99 Cent II Diptychon by Andreas Gursky (2001) – $3,346,456

99 Cent II Diptychon by Andreas Gursky (2001)

This work of Gursky is a two part photograph probably made in 1999 as the work sometimes called “99 cent 1999”. The second print of this sold at a price of $3,346,456 in at a New York gallery and a third print sold for $2.25 million at Sotheby’s. The photograph caused a little controversy when it was auctioned.

Chicago Board of Trade III by Andreas Gursky (1999) – $3,298,755

Chicago Board of Trade III by Andreas Gursky (1999)

This is Gursky’s seminal stock exchange series. He initiated this series in the early 1990s. The picture sold for $3,298,755 in 2013. Chicago Board of Trade III depicts a bird’s eye view of a chaotic activity at the Board of Trade.

The Pond-Moonlight by Edward Steichen (1904) – $2,928,000

The Pond-Moonlight by Edward Steichen (1904)

This masterpiece by Steichen is an example of his pioneering work as an early 20th-century photographer. He took the photo in the wetlands near Mamaroneck on New York’s Long Island Sound. Steichen’s picture is a result of the then landmark technique of gum-bichromate layer printing. In 2006, it was sold for $2,928,000 at Sotheby’s.

Los Angeles by Andreas Gursky (1998) – $2,900,000

expensive photographs

The photograph by Gursky was sold for $2,900,000 at Sotheby’s. The photo depicts the large panorama of the lights of Los Angeles.

Untitled #153 by Cindy Sherman (1985) – $2,700,000

Untitled #153 by Cindy Sherman (1985)

Sherman’s another work sold for $2,700,000 at the Phillips de Pury & Co. in New York City in 2010. This is a self-portrait depicting Sherman as a dirt-encrusted corpse.

Chicago Board of Trade by Andreas Gursky (1997) – $2,355,597

Chicago Board of Trade by Andreas Gursky (1997)

Another photograph from Gursky’s iconic stock exchange series and it sold for $2,355,597 at Sotheby’s in 2013. Sotheby described it as a ‘monument to the goliath of global trade and the seat of contemporary economic power’.

Billy The Kid by an unknown person (1879-80) – $2,300,000

Billy The Kid by an unknown person (1879-80)

This tintype photograph of the infamous bandit is the only existing authenticated photo. It is thought to have been taken between 1879 and 1880 in Fort Sumner, New Mexico by an unknown person. Florida-based billionaire businessman and art collector William Koch bought this photograph at Brian Lebel’s Old West Auction in Denver for $2,300,000.

Tobolsk Kremlin by Dmitry Medvedev (2009) – $1,750,000

Tobolsk Kremlin by Dmitry Medvedev (2009)

Former Russian president and photographer Dmitry Medvedev clicked the aerial view of the Kremlin in the remote Siberian town of Tobolsk in 2009. His photo depicts the white stone walls and towers of the Kremlin. The photo was sold at an auction in St Petersburg featuring art works by Russian public figures. Russian businessman Mikhail Zingarevich bought a black and white print of this photo for $1,750,000.

Nude by Edward Weston (1925) – $1,609,000

Nude by Edward Weston (1925)

Edward Weston took the photograph in 1925 in California. This photo is his experiment with ‘straight photography’ in a series of nude studies. The photo is thought to feature Miriam Lerner, his model and lover.

Georgia O’Keeffe – Hands by Alfred Stieglitz (1919) – $1,470,000

Georgia O’Keeffe – Hands by Alfred Stieglitz (1919)

American photographer and art promoter Alfred Stieglitz took the photograph of his lover and later wife, the painter Georgia O’Keeffe in 1919. He took this photo three years after their first meeting. This photograph is a part of more than three hundred photographs of O’Keeffe. It sold for $1,470,000 at Sotheby’s in 2006.

Georgia O’Keeffe – Nude by Alfred Stieglitz (1919) – $1,360,000

Georgia O’Keeffe – Nude by Alfred Stieglitz (1919)

It is considered as one of the best photographs of Stieglitz. It was first exhibited at a showing of Stieglitz’s photography in 1921. The image also stirred some controversy. It sold in 2006 for $1,360,000 at Sotheby’s.

Suchismita Biswas
Suchismita Biswas

Pen is mightier than swords – these words make me passionate about writing. Except writing I love to travel , love to explore the unknown places, love photography and love listening to music. Also I am an avid reader of books. I’m a simple girl but I am what I am.

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