edward steichen pond photograph sets world record, $2.9 million

A photograph of a pond taken by Edward Steichen sold for more than $2.9 million on Tuesday, easily setting a world record for the highest-priced photograph ever auctioned, Sotheby's said.

“The Pond-Moonlight,” taken on Long Island in 1904, sold for $2,928,000, including the buyer's premium, Sotheby's spokesman Matthew Weigman said. It was bought by Peter MacGill, of Pace/MacGill Gallery, on behalf of a private collector.

The photograph shows a pond in a wooded area with light coming through the trees and reflected in the water. Pre-sale estimates priced the photo, which is slightly bigger than 16 inches by 19 inches, at up to $1 million. The only other two prints are in museum collections.

The previous record for a photograph sold at auction, $1,248,000, was set in November by Richard Prince's “Untitled (Cowboy).”

Also surpassing that record on Tuesday were two photographs of the artist Georgia O'Keeffe taken by Alfred Stieglitz, her husband. A photograph of her hands sold for $1,472,000, and a portrait of her nude sold for $1,360,000, Weigman said. Both went to West Coast dealers.

All three photographs were among a group of about 140 scheduled to be auctioned by Sotheby's on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

The photographs have been put up for sale by the Metropolitan Museum of Art from its acquisition last year of the more than 8,500 photographs in the renowned Gilman Paper Co. collection.

Some of the Gilman works duplicated material already in the museum's holdings so they were put up for auction, as were some photographs in the Met's collection that were in better condition in the Gilman collection.

Stephen Perloff, the editor of The Photograph Collector, a newsletter about the photography art market, said before the Steichen auction that it would be a “moment of history.”

The entire sale is estimated to bring in between $4 million and $6 million, said Denise Bethel, director of the Sotheby's photography department. The proceeds will go toward defraying the costs of acquiring the collection.

Steichen, who was among a group of early photographers who aimed to gain acceptance of photography as a fine art, curated the famed 1955 exhibit “The Family of Man,” which included more than 500 images submitted from around the world. He died in 1973.

Source : Associated Press


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