Andreas Gursky has once again reclaimed the world auction record for a photograph at a stunning $4.3 million, breaking the current record, which was held by Cindy Sherman and just set in May 2011. Gursky's three-meter wide photograph of the Rhine River sold in November at Christie's Contemporary Art sale in New York. The print far exceeded its pre-sale estimate of $2.5-$3.5 million. You can see it here with commentary: http://www.christies.com/features/andreas-gursky-rhein-ii-1844-4.aspx?CID=541700219224ph01 .
Rhine II, 1999, is one of an edition of six photographs by Gursky, four of which are in major museums, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Tate Modern in London. The rather minimalist piece, a very simple landscape, is a much more abstract image than previous contemporary photography record holders.
The price not only took the title away of "Most Expensive Photograph at Auction" from Sherman's self portrait, which also sold at Christie's but in the 2011 Spring Contemporary Sales for $3,890,000, it also pushed Richard Prince's Marlboro Man (Untitled, Cowboy), which sold at Sotheby's, NY's November 14, 2007 Contemporary Art Evening Sale for $3,401,000, into third place. Gursky's previous world record photo, his 99-cent diptych at $3,346,456, which had been set at Sotheby's London on February 7, 2007, was delegated to fourth highest price at auction for a photograph. Edward Steichen's Pond--Moonlight, which still holds the record for a non-contemporary photograph, was delegated to fifth place at $2,928,000.