The Most Expensive Photographs

Have you ever wondered which are the World’s Most Expensive Photographs ever sold? Let’s find out here. As paintings, photographs can get very expensive and it seems that some people would pay lots of money in order to own one. So, let’s see what images got people to get out their pockets and put the money on the table. Have you ever seen one of these until now?

edward weston

Edward Weston: (1925) – $1,609,000

It was sold at Sotheby’s New York in 2008. After years working in his studio in California, Weston moved to Mexico to explore his experiment with ‘straight photography’ in a series of unclothed studies of Tina Modotti, his lover and collaborator.

tobolsk kremlin

Dimitry Medvedev: “Tobolsk Kremlin” (2009) – $1,750,000

Sold in 2010 at Christmas Yarmarka, a private fund raising auction, this photograph taken by Medvedev, chose a scene steeped in Russian tradition. His photograph, taken from the air, shows the white stone walls and towers of the Kremlin in Tobolsk.

billy kid

Unknown: “Billy the Kid” (1879-80) – $2,300,000

Sold in 2011 at Brian Lebel’s Old West Show & Auction, this photo is the only authenticated image of Billy the Kid and embodies the American West and one of its largest personalities.

cindy sherman

Cindy Sherman: “Untitled #153” (1985) – $2,700,000
This chromogenic color print is from an editions of 6 and was sold in 2010 at Phillips de Pury & Co. New York.

moonlight - the most expensive photographs

Edward Steichen: “The Pond – Moonlight”, (1904) – $2,928,000

This one is my favorite from this top and it is a beautiful example of the Pictorialist style of the late 1800s and early 20th century, embodied by Steinchen’s hand-layering technique.

chicago board trade iii

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

Sold in 2013, it is a stunning image of our contemporary world of high-tech industry, international markets, big-time sports, fast-paced tourism, and slick commerce. All put together by a single artist.

cent diptychon

Andreas Gursky: “99 Cent II Diptychon” (2001) – $3,346,456

It was sold in 2007, being one of the first high-price photo purchases and causing a little controversy when it was auctioned off.

dead troops talk

Jeff Wall: “Dead Troops Talk” (1992) – $3,666,500

Purchased in 2012, ’Dead Troops’ is a montage made in 1992, as a vision after an ambush of a Red Army patrol, near Moqor, Afghanistan, winter of 1986.

1981 - the most expensive photographs

Cindy Sherman: “Untitled #96? (1981) – $3,890,500

This one was sold in 2011 at Christie’s New York. Sherman was known to avoid titling her work,so any interpretation of the photo is welcomed.

rhein ii - the most expensive photographs

Andreas Gursky: “Rhein II” (1999) – $4,338,500

Also sold at Christie’s New York, in 2011, the most expensive photograph ever sold is actually a fictitious construction, as Gursky calls it. He removed some of the elements that were damaging to the composition, like people and buildings in order to provide an accurate image of the river.