Sherman Self-Portrait Sets Record as Highest-Selling Photo

Take a look at the most valuable photograph in the world. “Untitled #96” by Cindy Sherman broke records when it sold recently for $3.89 million at auction.

Christie’s held the auction, which tallied more than $300 million in sales. While not the priciest item up for auction that day, Sherman’s self-portrait from 1981 passed all records for photography, and was sold for $3.89 million. According to, the buyer was New York dealer Philippe Segalot, and the underbidder was Per Skarstedt, also a New York dealer.

The story behind the photo is an intriguing one — The Centerfold or Horizontals series began when the publication ArtForum commissioned Cindy Sherman to create a portfolio of images for display in the magazine. Inspired by the magazines horizontal format and the fact that the publication wanted Sherman to make two-page spreads, she decided to create pictures that would mimick centerfolds from pornographic magazines. In the series, Sherman again is the subject in the images and portrays diffrent women in each photo.

In Untitled #96, Sherman portrays what seems to be a young teenager. This image portrays the character as being innocent yet seductive because at closer inspection, you will notice that her finger points to a small “singles” ad in the newspaper. This is to show how the character wants to leave her young single life and is ready to find her man, showing how she’s progressed from a young teenager to a woman. Criticts panned the series, claiming that Sherman was reaffirming sexist stereotypes. Eventually, ArtForum rejected the series and the images were never published in the magazine.

Christie’s confirmed that this was a record for a photograph at auction, previously held by Andreas Gursky’s “99 Cent II Diptychon,” which fetched $3.35 million in 2006. Sherman recently had another high profile sale, with her work ”Untitled #153,” from 1985 reaching $2.7 million in late 2010.

Other big sellers of the night include Andy Warhol’s 1963-64 “Self- Portrait” which went for $38.4 million, an undocumented Rothko for $33.7 million, and ”Untitled (Lamp/Bear)” by Urs Fisher, an enormous, 35,000-pound bright-yellow teddy bear which had been in front of the Seagram building in New York for the last month that sold for $6.8 million.

Image by Cindy Sherman

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One Response to Sherman Self-Portrait Sets Record as Highest-Selling Photo

  1. Maryland says:

    Furrealz? That’s mavruelosly good to know.

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