[NOTE: I added the final paragraph on Dec. 15 to take into account later reaction to the sale from one art critic.]
A public relations firm is calling it “the most expensive photograph in history,” and it may very well be exactly that. Today, Peter Lik–the famous shooter who has galleries all over the world, including Lahaina–announced that he’s sold the above photo, titled “Phantom,” to an unnamed private collector for $6.5 million. According to the PetaPixel blog, the previous title holder for most expensive photo was “Rhein II,” shot by Andreas Gursky and sold for $4.3 million in 2011.
“The purchase also included Lik’s masterworks ‘Illusion’ for $2.4 million and ‘Eternal Moods’ for $1.1 million,” states a Dec. 9 press release from Lik Galleries’ PR firm. “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.’”
According to the news release, “Phantom” and “Eternal Moods” are “black and white representations of Lik’s iconic images ‘Ghost’ and ‘Eternal Beauty.'” This makes the sale all that more unusual, since Lik images are usually in vibrant colors.
The private buyer is represented by Joshua Roth of the Glaser Weil Fink Howard Avchen & Shapiro, LLP in Los Angeles, states the news release, which also indicated that the buyer “preferred not to be publicly identified for security and privacy reasons.”
“The buyer saw the photos in New York and the deal transpired from there,” said a Lik Galleries spokesperson. “We don’t actually have an exact location since the buyer is anonymous.”
For more information on Peter Lik, go to Lik.com.
Given so many unknowns about the sale, at least one critic has expressed skepticism that the deal actually went through. “Peter Lik’s claims to be the ‘world’s most influential fine art photographer’ and ‘one of the most important artists of the 21st century’ follow a fine tradition of male bluster,” said Andrew Taylor, an arts reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald, on Dec. 12. Though Taylor did hedge his bet by saying that “It is not entirely impossible that Lik pocketed the millions of dollars he claims for Phantom. His sales staff are apparently very good at singing his praises and he has galleries in places like Las Vegas, where there is more money than sense.”
Image of “Phantom”: Peter Lik