German photographer Andreas Gursky now holds the record for the most expensive photograph ever sold at auction, with Rhein II, his 143-inch-long image of the Rhine River selling for $4.34 million last night at Christie’s contemporary art evening sale.
That result was strong enough to beat its $2.5 million-$3.5 million estimate, as well as the previous holder of the auction record for a photograph, an untitled “Centerfold” image by Cindy Sherman, which made $3.89 million at Christie’s in May.
The Gursky is an edition of six, and as Christie’s noted in its catalogue, three of those reside in museum collections, meaning that collectors will have a hard time getting their hands on the image. The Museum of Modern Art, in New York; Tate Modern, in London, and the Pinakothek der Moderne, in Munich, Germany, all own one, and a fourth copy is in the collection of Glenstone, the museum run by billionaire collector Mitchell Rales in Potomac, Maryland.
Those looking to take a peek at other Gurskys can visit Gagosian’s West 21st Street gallery, where an exhibition of the photographer’s latest works is on view through Dec. 17.