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The Most Expensive Photograph in the World

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by , 11-17-2011 at 03:24 AM (8596 Views)
This is the most expensive photograph in the world...

It's called "Rhein II", and is a simple (in fact quite drab) photograph of the mighty German river Rhine.

It looks quite clean considering there are no people or buildings in the photo, but the artist "cheated" a little--he actually digitally manipulated it (Photoshopped) and removed some people and a factory in the horizon on the opposite bank. Here is the Wikipedia entry about the photograph so you can read the details about it.

Yes, believe it or not, it fetched a whopping $4.3 MILLION US DOLLARS at an auction at Christy's New York, last November 8, 2011. Identity of the buyer is unknown.

$4.3 million dollars...for this photoshopped, drab gotta be kidding right? Well, let's listen to a what-if story...

...whoever brought this must photo, must have been say, an American soldier in World War II, who crossed the Rhine in a small, leaky boat, under intense fire from Germans on the other side of it, and survived that crossing, survived numerous battles, and eventually survived the war. We imagine him going back to the states and he put up a business and eventually earned a fortune. And then...when he saw the photograph on display at a museum while visiting Germany, he probably said, "This is how I like the Rhine...peaceful, with no guns pointed at me on the opposite bank." and promptly bought it for 4.3 million dollars!

There is a saying that goes like this... "One man's junk, is another man's treasure." The reason for my little hypothetical story about the American war veteran who became a billionaire (who could very well be the "unknown buyer" of this photograph), is that, sometimes, we look at an image or object, and we do not see any value in it, because we are not equipped with the experience, culture and relevant data that could possibly make such an object valuable to us.

Thus, if a soldier indeed nearly drowned or got shot while crossing the River Rhine sixty or so years ago, then it is an event he will likely never forget, and perhaps seeing a more serene version of the river can help calm his aging nerves and let him come to terms with the demons of his past, and thus the photo to him is IMPORTANT, and he will pay ANY amount to own it. Value, therefore, is based on the IMPORTANCE of a connection to an experience, to the culture and data behind an object, and object that perhaps to others' eyes, may simply be "junk."


Updated 11-17-2011 at 04:17 AM by rodsky




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