Top 10 Photography Lots at Auction in 2010

According to our statistics on 71 different auctions around the world in 2010 (covering both focused Photography sales and the photography buried in Contemporary Art and other compilation sales), these were the top 10 photography lots in terms of overall selling price this year. Unlike last year, when no works crossed the $1 million dollar mark in public secondary market transactions, 8 out of the top 10 lots this year broke that threshold (3 actually crossed $2 million dollars). Our top lot last year (Gilbert & George, The Moon, 1978), would have been good for a tie for 10th place this year (last year’s list can be found here).

While some might persuasively argue that certain artists do not fall under the label of “photography”, all of the works that have been included in this list are made up of photographic prints. Prices all include the buyer’s premium and have been converted to dollars/rounded to the nearest dollar where appropriate (1 Euro = 1.31 Dollars; 1 Pound = 1.55 Dollars, both exchange rates slightly lower than last year; varying quality reproductions via the respective houses).

1.) $2770500: Lot 14, Cindy Sherman, Untitled #153, 1985, at Phillips de Pury & Company, Carte Blanche, November 8th

2.) $2098500: Lot 8, Andreas Gursky, Frankfurt, 2007, at Sotheby’s, Contemporary Art, November 9th

3.) $2060338: Lot 6, Andreas Gursky, Pyongyang IV, 2007, at Sotheby’s, Contemporary Art, October 15th

4.) $1669738: Lot 72, Andreas Gursky, Madonna I, 2001, at Sotheby’s, Contemporary Art, February 10th

5.) $1426500: Lot 19, Cindy Sherman, Untitled #420, 2004, at Phillips de Pury & Company, Carte Blanche, November 8th

5.) $1426500: Lot 58, Cindy Sherman, Untitled (#88), 1981, at Christie’s, Post-War and Contemporary Art, November 10th

7.) $1101710: Lot 16, Richard Avedon, Dovima with elephants, Evening dress by Dior, Cirque D’Hiver, Paris, August 1955, 1955/1978, at Christie’s, Photographies provenant de la Fondation Richard Avedon, November 20th

8.) $1082500: Lot 122, Edward Weston, Nautilus, 1927, at Sotheby’s, Photographs, April 13th

9.) $962500: Lot 17, Thomas Schütte, Old Friends, 1993, at Phillips de Pury & Company, Carte Blanche, November 8th

10.) $902500: Lot 113, Richard Prince, Untitled (Cowboy), 1998-1999, at Phillips de Pury & Company, Contemporary Art, November 8th

10.) $902500: Lot 8, Andreas Gursky, Chicago Board of Trade, 1997, at Christie’s, Collection of Michael Crichton, May 11th

While we cover most of the major auctions, it is entirely possible (though not hugely likely) that a photograph could have sold outside our coverage area, in a smaller house or in a secondary market location (especially in the 19th century realm), but could still have reached the top 10 in terms of overall price. So please, if we’ve missed something somewhere, by all means, add it in the comments.

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Read more about: Andreas Gursky, Cindy Sherman, Edward Weston, Richard Avedon, Richard Prince, Thomas Schütte


  1. Anonymous /

    The auction prices say more about the market than they do about about the artist or the work. And that, to me, is boring. I bought a can of beans yesterday for $1.49. But what really matters is that the beans were fucking good beans.

  2. Anonymous /

    lets appreciate the time, research, and effort that goes into all the DLK Collection articles, b/c they actually contain usefull information.

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