Sunday, February 19, 2006

Forget a thousand words. This picture's worth $2.9 million -

Forget a thousand words. This picture's worth $2.9 million

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

"The Pond-Moonlight," taken in 1904 at Mamaroneck, New York, sold Tuesday for $2,928,000, including the buyer's premium, Sotheby's spokesman Matthew Weigman said. The buyer's identity was not immediately disclosed.

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 highest price for a photograph at auction, $1,248,000, was set in November by Richard Prince's "Untitled (Cowboy)." (ABOVE)

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.

All three photographs were among a group of close to 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.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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