The art world and its market have been doing well in the recent past and many new records have been created with wide margins. However the news about the new record of the world’s most expensive photograph in history was received with some skepticism. Last week Australian photographer Peter Lik’s network of galleries in the U.S., Lik USA announced that the photographer’s black and white photograph named Phantom was sold to a private collector for a record $6.5 million. Some of the experts in the field including Andrew Taylor, an arts journalist, cast serious doubts about the veracity of the news. Writing in The Age he said that it is likely that the sale never happened actually.
The current record for the most expensive photograph is held by Andreas Gursky for his photograph Rhein II, which fetched $4.3 million at Christie’s in November 2011. Some of important critics are not willing to accept the new record without documentary proof of sale to the anonymous buyer. They are unwilling to take the press release at face value. Lik has never enjoyed much success in major art galleries and auctions. The critics point out that Lik’s photographs have not sold well because they have no secondary market or value. The art market is driven not exclusively by the quality of the work but by the expected value it can gain in the secondary market.
The art market is not very transparent as all the data of sales globally is not available. The data comes only from the auction market which only accounts for only half of total sales globally. A major portion of high value art sales occur privately through galleries and dealers who often don’t make any of their prices public. They are intentionally vague about the transaction details to safeguard the interests and privacy of their clients. People who want to invest in art should be careful as you might not necessarily make money if you sell it. However, Lik must be given the benefit of doubt as it is really remarkable that a photograph has fetched such a high price.
Via: news.artnet, forbes