The Most Expensive Photograph In The World: “Rhine II” By Andreas Gursky
Many photo enthusiasts rolled their eyes when they heard that Cindy Sherman’s “Untitled No.96” photo motif was sold at the beginning of 2011 for the price of $3.89 million – surpassing Andreas Gursky’s “99 Cent II Diptych” (sold for $3.55 million). But it took just under half a year for the Düsseldorf photographer and artist to reclaim the title: the photograph “Rhine II”, taken in 1999 on the banks of the Rhine in Oberkassel, was auctioned off in New York as part of Christie’s “Post-War Contemporary” auction for the record price of $4.3 million, making it the most expensive photograph in the world to date.
The photograph auctioned in November 2011 – first made known during the Red-Green election campaign between Gerhard Schröder and Joschka Fischer – is not only the No.1 but also with dimensions of 185.4 x 363.5 cm the largest of an edition of 6 image motifs. Why the early and well-known photograph “Rhine II” is so sought-after, one suspects, if one looks at the list of museums and collections, in which the remaining works of the edition are: The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich, the Tate Modern in London and the Glenstone Collection in Potomac are in possession of the other photographs.
Update 05 January 2015: In 1999, connoisseurs estimate that the photo was sold at the time for 25,000 to 30,000 German marks. Today, all photographs are in the hands of collectors whose names are not known or published.
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