Here it goes, a new record in photography auctions. As reported by PDN online, Richard Prince set the record for the most expensive photo sold at Sotheby’s in New York for $3,401,000 USD. Among all images that are available for purchase in the fine art marketplace, one has to believe that this one has to be really unique to command such a price.
The record-breaking Prince image is from his untitled cowboy series – in which Prince photographed sections of Marlboro cigarette ads and enlarged the photos to an enormous size. The photo sold at Sotheby’s measures 100 by 66 inches and was one of an edition of two plus one artist’s proof. It is dated 2001-02.- PDN online
What? An image of a Marlboro cigarette advertising selling for how much?
Besides the artistic merit of this image -of which I have my reservations – what it is clear to me is that I have no clue in general about what is a reasonable price for photographic prints. Sometimes I see prints that I like, and even consider to purchase, but I often get cold feet when I consider the prices for the prints because I have no way to know if the prints that are sold at galleries command reasonable prices or not.
How much it is reasonable to pay for a print?
My guidance is “reasonable is the price that I can afford for a print I love” … but what if I am paying way too much? or perhaps I am getting a good offer? Often times, even affordable prints are costly enough to ask those questions.
A couple of months ago I inquired for the price of a print of one of my favorite images from Elliott Erwitt (image). When Magnum told me the price of $4000 USD, I decided not to purchase it; it was too much money for me. But I really love that image and would love to have a print. Is $4000 USD too much money for that image? Is perhaps a reasonable price? How can I know?
How do you know what is a reasonable price of a photographic print?
I searched to see if I can find more information about pricing of photographic prints and I found the site, iphotocentral, that has a wealth of information about photo collecting and pricing. One of the articles, On Connoisseurship and Photography Print Values: A Discussion, is quite interesting. There are many other articles that are also worthwhile to read if you are interested in collecting photographs.
This article is devoted to a very important subject: connoisseurship and the print. This should be a topic of primary concern for any collector, institution or dealer. What goes into evaluating and determining the collectability of any photograph is not easy to discuss, because so much is subjective and determined by the experience of the viewer. And price–on at least rare items–can be equally subjective and determined even by environment, as much as the image itself. More on this later. [article by Alex Novak]
If you would like to read more about the photo market, go to the News & Archives page and look up Issue 28, 4/1/2001: click here, for a surprisingly still very relevant discussion about the issues and trends.
If you have any suggestion or information on how best to estimate the price of photographic prints, please let me know. It looks to me that pricing of photographs is much of an art as the capture itself. I will surely need to learn to deal with it, before a use my money. Any ideas, any suggestions? Any information?