Most expensive photographs ever sold


The top 5 most expensive photographs ever sold:

1.LAS VEGAS, Dec. 9, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Today, LIK USA™ announced the sale of the most expensive photograph in history by world-renowned fine art photographer, Peter Lik. “Phantom” sold to a private collector for an unprecedented $6.5 million. The purchase also included Lik’s masterworks “Illusion” for $2.4 million and “Eternal Moods” for $1.1 million. With this $10 million sale, Lik now holds four of the top 20 spots for most expensive photographs ever sold. He already has a position in the ranking with a previous $1 million sale of famed image, “One.”
Source LIK USA


2. Andreas Gursky Rhein II (1999) $4,338,500


3. Cindy Sherman Untitled #96 (1981) $3,890,500


4. Jeff Wall Dead Troops Talk $3,666,500


5. Andreas Gursky 99 Cent II Diptychon (2001) $3,346,456

AndreasGursky .jpg

6. Edward Steichen The Pond-Moonlight (1904) $2,928,000


Please comment below, would love to hear your thoughts.


About the Author

Edin Chavez
Travel junkie, animal lover, troublemaker, daydreamer and a bit obsessed with my camera. Addicted to documentaries, coffee, hot sauce, and blue cheese.
  • Peter Vincent says:

    well, fuck….. Take a look everyone…..

  • Bayoe Wanda says:

    Andreas Gursky Rhein II (1999) $4,338,500
    Ora ngerti aku

  • Wynand van Waardenburg says:

    I must be a multi millioner my photo’s are better

  • Kelly O'Neill Kasper says:

    Certainly the eye of the beholder.

  • Melissa Navaroli says:

    I’d love to sell my photos for even half of what these are worth

  • Splice Studios says:

    Personally, they got the pricing all wrong. Steichen by far deserves the high price tag, the rest a child could shoot. But then again, the galleries and auction houses play a very dangerous game of driving up prices on contemporary art, weather
    its paintings or photography.

  • Scott Baker says:

    Seems amazing to me what some folks call art and the amount of money they’ll pay to brag about a wall hanging..
    Bone heads with way too much money

  • Caroline Lohrmann says:

    maybe there is a really cool story behind the pictures, something must have made them worth that much money for the people who bought them

  • Csilla Sheila Bartos says:

    Just because they have lots and lots of money it does not mean they have taste. I have much better pictures of my own I enjoy greatly and would not exchange them for “those”…

  • Ray Carson says:

    hard to believe Steichen rates number 5 and Gursky had two pieces…I’m a photographer by trade and I had to google him…never heard of the guy. With all the fantastic photographers over the years is hard to believe those two pieces sold for the most. They say sometimes selling art is 20% creativity and and 80% hype

  • David Bertoni says:

    Rhein’s photographs are great.

  • William Bruce Matthews says:

    So, having just “searched” these, other then the classic Steichen looks like Make It BIG is a major key to money?

  • Fred Phipps says:

    All of the suck. I have better with and old Bronnie Box Camera.

  • Kerry Elliott Caron says:

    Very interesting. Before I looked at the photos I was sure I would see an old movie star in one of the 5. Or shots from special places around the world. Quite shocked to see what was here. Steichen’s from 1904 certainly was the best. the rest like someone else said a child could take. Or me a real beginner who plays with the idea of photography.

  • Tiziano Delpopolo says:

    My cat could take more interesting photos

  • Leigh Woolford says:

    To be fair, I think you need to see the originals before you comment on their worth. In the flesh (so to speak) the Gursky one’s are huge and incredibly detailed. (I’m not a fan of his either BTW but an 800×400 pixel web image does no justice to any of these photographs).
    When it comes down to it, price is simply determined by demand. If someone is prepared to pay gazzillions for a Gursky, then that is what it is worth at that time. Personally I’d rather shell out for an original Ansell Adams.

  • […] to my attention via a Facebook link to the most expensive photographs in the world. The link is Fascinating stuff, isn’t it? What makes those images so important that people are willing to […]

  • Mary Stramoski Broome says:

    Number 5 is the only only one I would want to look at daily.

  • Dan Overton says:

    Except for #5 which is probably an antique the rest are just ho-hum photography

  • Jason Head says:

    It all depends on your name, a photo by Jason head (me) unknown £0,
    A photo by Lord Litchfield £1,000s

  • Emine Alkan Taşdelen says:

    I am not Looking anymore to find something brillant if it is named best, it is just a luck.

  • Bruce Gareth George says:

    OMW only an idiot can pay so much for photos totally devoid of creativity and technical skill.

  • Freddy David Johnson says:

    i think the value and beauty is in the eye of the beholder if you look at a picture and you feel a connection with the image then….

  • Graeme Reynolds says:

    Oh no – I’ve just deleted a better one than No. 1 !

  • Joe Mickey says:

    Can we get sources of confirmation on these?

  • Amazing Photographs says:

    Hoped to enter an edit while I was here… but it would not allow… Photographers and photos fans … please give a search for The Tibetan Photo Project ( see my related comment below

  • George Contini Sr George says:

    This means all the Crap photos I took when I first started shooting are worth money! Even my out of focus photos are worth millions lol

  • Jeff Dolan says:

    I don’t understand!

  • Anthony Killelea says:

    Sorry. They don’t work for me. I wouldn’t have paid for any of them. If they appeal to you well and good, they may fit your wall. but not for me.

  • Jess Bird says:

    Great collection. Very emotive and poignant images.

  • Vickie O'Dell says:

    I must be missing something.

  • Sean Galbraith says:

    Haters gonna hate

  • Bob Limacher says:

    Money has nothing to do with the Light

  • Kent Spottswood says:

    At the newspaper where I worked, we would have paid nothing for No. 1. Maybe $75 for No. 2 and run it on the front page. No. 3 gets the most at maybe $300, not for its artistic qualities but to compensate for hazardous duty. No. 4 would earn the photographer $35 and his pic would run on the business page, maybe on Sunday. We wouldn’t have a clue what to do with No. 5 but that’s clearly the most artistic of the lot.

  • Andy May says:

    I cant Believe how much someone would pay for those pics.. In My opinion the only one really worth anything is # 3.. the rest are at best average.. and is it just me but # 5 looks more like a painting than a photo graph.. i know i know its old but still lol…

  • Michael Tracy says:

    Really nice photos but nothing special and certainly nothing worth millions. Really, millions.

  • Mark D. Storck says:

    Ask me: they are ALL crap.

  • Joezette Alexis Carroll says:

    do believe that this is confirmation that we can all pursue our dreams, and believe that our Art is worth for than just a few dollars. :)

  • Ebrahim Khalil says:

    After reading all the photographers’ comment, i suggest you to sell your all photos officially , who knows you could be a billionaire overnight from your old photos, maybe you can organize an exhibition and sell photos through bidding ….

  • Tara Lundrigan says:

    Pft, what BS. None of these are worth that. I can’t believe people would even pay that…

  • Christine Lake says:

    I think there’s hope for me yet.

  • Paul Chong says:

    It’s always hard to judge the worth of the art by just looking at only the art itself. Most of the time, these artist carries certain value in their masterpiece. I believe “they don’t just sell art, they sell value above art”. Sometimes it will help to understand why they cost so much if there’s a description about the story and history behind.

  • […] packing their bags for the Kidney Kar Rally, shooting cats in near darkness with the Sony a7s, the most expensive photos ever sold, the people who are painted to look like paintings of themselves, shooting star trails where […]

  • Jason Carey says:

    Now John Bryson was a great photographer who caught some of the worlds most iconic moments for Time Life, those I can relate to.

  • Ramon C. Ramirez says:

    Love art in all it’s beautiful and twisted forms..but I have to ask..4.8+Million for a photograph..WHY?

  • Ramón Jurado says:

    Can someone explain to me why it is so expensive?

  • Abir Bose says:

    Thanks….I will carry a gun with 100 rounds of bullet… my next exhibition……..maybe..

  • Shirley Jean Hewitt says:

    Someone is full of imagination and it is not me – I would give them to my cat to play with, she loves chewing things –

  • Chris Kay says:

    Clearly, it’s not the image that garnered the hefty price tags, it’s which photographer has the best marketing team

  • Michael Mottarella says:

    Look at the new results from the NATIONAL GEOGEAPHIC CONTEST. The winners are easily better than those. …..

  • Alexandra says:

    I don’t understand the price of the second photo. I’m not saying it’s not a good one but I would like to understand why is it so special.

  • Jeremy Jordan says:

    Wow. has Beyer photos then the ones listed here. Check him out.

  • Mihajlo Stojanovski says:

    I have more attractive photos in my cell phone. F logic

  • Dhanushka Keerthirathna says:


  • Kochi Ravi says:


  • Aniecea says:

    I like the first one and the last one.

  • Dan McCormack says:

    I’m not a big fan of 4 or 6 but greatly enjoy the others. Art has always been in the eye of the beholder I believe. If so, then these are worth a lot to certain people.

  • Dedek Hajes says:

    I don’t understand any price of pictures. First an most expensive is a copy of picture taken by other masters. Boy have many people made this photo :-D I believe first guy who took it – sells it for about 900USD :-D It is just 6.49M saving :-D

    Albert was right “Human stupidity and Universe is infinite, but I am not sure about the second one.”

  • David Tower says:

    Obviously, Some poeple have more money than brains!

  • Scurvyp says:

    #4 & #5 are interesting, the rest… Well, the only reason I gave them a second glance was to try to figure out what would convince someone to pay that ridiculous price for them. I failed miserably.

  • Graham Lymelite-Photography says:

    Does anybody know who bought these I have loads of photos for sale!!!!!! Lol

  • DonnaM says:

    i think to say that photography is “art’ is… well… just plain wrong. The ART is already there.. you are just putting that ART on paper. I don’t understand them at all… what is so great about them. I would not give you two cents for any of them. I will keep taking photos of my kids. THOSE are worth more than a million. PRICELESS! Some people just don’t have any idea where to put their money and the saying goes something like this…. something is worth ONLY what someone is willing to pay for it! And they paid a lot. Now, in the newest winner, no one has said anything about the sun beam. It looks like there is a “hazy” human in there. A female. Is THAT what makes it unique? So great? No one has said anything about it that I have seen.

  • DonnaM says:

    Someone has commented concerning the black and white too! But, has anyone noticed? I think it being in black and white —-When I first saw this photo, it looked like x-ray. Does it not look like that to anyone else? You can’t do that in color. And then again, look at the sunbeam. Looks like a female form in there.

  • BPods ♪♪ says:

    I now own all of these as jpegs.

  • Rawlinsriles says:

    But how many likes did it get on Instagram?

  • frank frank says:

    cool. who is it that is actually spending this type of money on this “art”? I would so love to meet them.

  • BrujaMayor says:

    Having visited Antelope Canyon this past summer, the beauty of it is in the different colors visible in the various layers and how light and dust play against the canyon walls

  • j says:

    the third picture is a joke yeah?

  • Tom Richards says:

    clear money laundering

  • Frannz Morzo says:

    I guess there something behind these images. My 5 yrs old boy right when he saw photo #1 his first reaction and word is WOW! I guess theres connections about this images how a person look it. My boy not really exposed in this kind of craft but surprisingly for the first time i heard him say wow to a picture? There is my 2 cents

  • Andy says:

    No 6. I have one just like that. Well not quite the same.

  • Michael says:

    The first shot is definitely the best. This being said I do not equate the value placed on these shots. Comparing my work to these shots I may be sitting on millions and don’t know it. :-)

  • Don DelSol says:

    Sorry, but Adams is still the best… and none of his in the top 6, go figure…

    • Thorsten L. says:

      Because Adams’ pictures are not really limited.

      If there would be one absolutely stunning and beautifull Adams picture and if he would have made only one large print of it and if it could be guaranteed that noone will ever make another print, then this one print would be worth … well …. a lot.

      But most of Adams’ pictures are widely available, Copies printed by Adams are worth a bit but his gallery still produces new prints of most of his negatives, made by master printers. Owning one of 100 prints of a picture is not worth much from an art collectors perspective.

  • Joao Fezas Vital says:

    William Klein, Diane Arbus, Henri C.B., Richard Avedon, Robert Capa, Annie Liebovitz. This should be the photographers getting paid 1M for their photographs.

  • Everett Engbers says:

    The Steichen is the best. A Gum over Platinum print that is hand made and not printed by a machine.

  • David Court says:


  • Ken Toney says:


  • Harold Metz says:

    …and without PS? SOOC? Just imagine if…

  • peter rees says:

    People misunderstand the technical aspects of a photograph with the message an artiast is trying to get across. Lik is NOT an artist, he’s about as subtle as an air raid!! Over processed nonsense BUT didn’t he do well !! :)

  • Barta says:

  • Carey Helmuth says:

    The Steichen is my choice. You can have the others…

  • Doris Lundin says:

    Beauty sitts in the eyes of the observer.

  • Jeffrey Elijah Tillitt says:

    Umm… Right click, save to downloads, and print…

  • Marita Hughes says:

    I’m confused by number 2…

  • David Schroeder says:

    Art collection is mainly about the collector, not the artist or their work.

  • Douglas says:

    The Lik stuff is just a lie. As bad as some of the others are they are legitimate. I have never seen any of his photographs at any AIPAD show. If Irving Penn’s vintage silver gelatin prints sell for 250,000 at the high end how can anyone justify the seven figures for some of the others???

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