NEW YORK (Reuters) - A photograph of Marilyn Monroe by Bert Stern and a photograph by Helmut Newton of four women naked and then dressed sold for record prices on Wednesday, Christie’s auction house said.
The Newton photo “Sie Kommen, (Naked and Dressed), Paris, 1981” sold for $662,500, smashing the previous 2007 record for the photographer of $380,725, while the Stern image “The Last Sitting,” one of the last pictures of Monroe before her death, sold for $146,500, shattering the $63,000 mark set in 1994.
Both photos were part of the Constantiner Collection, which included the largest-ever grouping of Monroe photos to come to market, more than 100 in all. The entire Constantiner Collection fetched $7.7 million, the highest total for a single owner dedicated photographs sale, Christie’s said.
“The superb results achieved for this collection demonstrate the potential of works bought with true passion and considerable connoisseurship to perform magnificently even in the present uncertain economic climate,” said Philippe Garner, Christie’s international head of photographs, in a statement.
“The results also confirm the central position that Helmut Newton has rightly been accorded as a master photographer of the 20th century, and, of course, Marilyn Monroe’s magical appeal has proven to be truly timeless,” he said.
Leon and Michaela Constantiner began buying photos of glamour and style icons in the early 1990s. Their collection also includes works William Klein, Herb Ritts, Irving Penn, and scores of prints by Newton, including several life-size nudes estimated at up to $600,000.
Many of the images are already well-known. They appeared in mass market media and helped define the post-war period, Garner said. That contrasts with much contemporary photography, which is made for galleries and museums, rather than destined for magazines.
Since the turn of the millennium, digital photography has taken over from a chemical-based process, so prints available in the art market now are a part of history.
Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Eric Walsh