The was a recent posting on the Worldwide Eye Facebook Photography Users Group concerning the world’s most valuable photographs. Here value is judged by the price collectors are willing and have paid for them. The important caveat here is that the art and collectables market can be very fickle.
Still this sent me searching. and I was curious to discover that there are several not completely self consistent such lists. Start with Gizmodo, which is basically the list that I saw. You might expect to see the likes of pioneers such as Julia Margaret Cameron but her photos fetch number in the mere hundreds of thousands of dollars. I’m not rushing out to buy one tomorrow. What about my all time favorite “Moonrise Hernandez, NM” by Ansel Adams. That can go as high as $600,000 depending, and here’s the key point, upon when it was done. But these are all lacking from the top ten list anyway.
What Gizmodo gives us as “the most expensive” (which, of course could change tomorrow) Andreas Gurstein’s 1999 image “Rhein II.” Hmm and very interesting. A list on Wikipedia is similar, but as mentioned not exactly the same. Also it takes you beyond the top ten. Here you’ll find “Moonrise…” down at number 19. What gets really fascinating is number ten a ferrotype from 1880 of “Billy the Kid” by an unknown artist (see Figure 1) which sold for $2.7 M. Going through the list is kind of interesting. Are we Philistines for looking? In the end there are many beautiful favorites. So I’ll just end with Edward Steichen’s 1904 image “Moonlight The Pond” – so very soothing and beautiful.