Photograph Sells For $6.5 Million, Sets New World Record; Has Some Asking How Much Are Photos Actually Worth?

Dec 10, 2014

Tiffany Mueller

Tiffany Mueller is a photographer and content strategist based in Hawi, Hawaii. Her work has been shared by top publications like The New York Times, Adobe, and others.

Photograph Sells For $6.5 Million, Sets New World Record; Has Some Asking How Much Are Photos Actually Worth?

Dec 10, 2014

Tiffany Mueller

Tiffany Mueller is a photographer and content strategist based in Hawi, Hawaii. Her work has been shared by top publications like The New York Times, Adobe, and others.

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Is a photo worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it?

There are a lot of brilliant photographers who haven’t been discovered or who otherwise struggle to sell a single image for what usually turns out to be less than a living wage. It isn’t that the photos are not good or usable, the market is just over saturated and it takes more (a lot more) than just taking a good photo to make a living doing it. There’s also the issue of the “weekend warriors” who are willing to drastically undercut the competition hoping they get a little publicity out of it. And that’s not to say they shouldn’t be getting their own, too, or even that their photos are not up to par, because a lot of times they are. It just makes it really discouraging for the folks who are out there trying to make a living at this and do not have a day job to fall back on.

And then a headline like this one appears in the news feed and for a fleeting moment we feel as though there’s hope. Maybe there is a market for fine art photography after all. And not just the average, hope-you-break-even kind of market that we’re accustomed to, but the kind of paradise where buyers are dishing out $6,500,000 for a single photograph. Could it really be true? Does that kind of utopia actually exist? Turns out, if you’re Pete Lik, utopia is reality.

As you may recall, Lik already secured a spot on the list of most expensive photos ever sold when his photo titled “One” sold for a cool $1M in 2012. But that’s just pocket change compared to the $10 million in sales he made this month to a single buyer. The buyer of the multi-million dollar trio, who wishes to remain anonymous, is the proud new owner of 3 new Lik pieces (click the image names to see the photos): Phantom which set the world record with a price tag of $6,500,000. Illusion which cost an additional $2,400,00, and Eternal Moods for which the buyer paid $1,100,000.

“It is noteworthy that the sales of these photographic works denote another milestone in the development of fine art photography, as well as a new benchmark for the value of Peter Lik works.” – Mark G. Tratos

While I’m not holding my breath on ever selling a photo for over a million dollars, the news is still encouraging. If not for me, then for you, or for the next guy who takes a leap of faith and commits wholeheartedly to being a full time photographer. Sure, it’s rare. A one in a billion chance, but it never hurts to dream, right? [ via Reddit ]

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Tiffany Mueller

Tiffany Mueller

Tiffany Mueller is a photographer and content strategist based in Hawi, Hawaii. Her work has been shared by top publications like The New York Times, Adobe, and others.

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7 responses to “Photograph Sells For $6.5 Million, Sets New World Record; Has Some Asking How Much Are Photos Actually Worth?”

  1. Shutter Hive Avatar
    Shutter Hive

    No photo is worth that sort of cash in my opinion. I was having this exact conversation with a client just last week about Lik, his work is excellent, there is no two ways about it but (in my opinion) it is no better than many other photographers work out there. I think one of the keys to earning a large sum from your photos is luck, if you happen to hit on a style that people like and the right people get interested then you are on to a winner (assuming those people are uber rich anonymous business people!). I have never seen one of Lik’s photos in person but my client had and he said they are printed so well the shot draws you in.

    1. Tiffany Mueller Avatar
      Tiffany Mueller

      I’ve heard this about seeing his prints live, too. He has a gallery near me, but on a different island. If I’m ever over there, I’m going to see for myself! :)

      1. Shutter Hive Avatar
        Shutter Hive

        Unfortunately he does not have a gallery in the UK so I cannot see his work, next time I am in the US I will make an effort to visit one

    2. Ryan Lindsey Avatar
      Ryan Lindsey

      Other large factors are how much you value your own work, and whether you’ve already sold work for overly-inflated sums. I would definitely agree that this is luck, and would argue that winning the lottery is more likely. It’s probably a lot cheaper, too, depending on the gear you buy, and doesn’t even require any skills! :-)

      As for the buyer, these are people who will pay twice what your house is worth for a car because they have so much money that they don’t know what things are actually worth any more.

      To say these photos are actually worth that much is erroneous, but rather they were deemed worth that much by the person who bought them.

      Ask 1000 people what they’d pay for the photos, and you’ll get 1000 hugely different answers, all that depend on what they earn, and what they think of the photos.

      If they think the artist is weird, even better! http://m.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/04/why-music-sounds-better-when-you-know-the-artist-is-eccentric/360345/

  2. Stefano Avatar
    Stefano

    People gives things its value. If you think something is worth it, then it is.
    Just think about all the overpriced stuff we buy everyday.

  3. Rex Deaver Avatar
    Rex Deaver

    Photographs, in and of themselves, are worth nothing. An expression, a vision, that resonates with an audience, is worth whatever that audience wants to pay, no matter the medium.

  4. JP Danko Avatar
    JP Danko

    I’ve been through Peter’s gallery in Vegas – beautiful work in an amazing setting. The print quality and presentation is phenomenal and makes it impossible to not want one. Great to see photography make some money!