Photographs are often recognized as a form of art by museums, corporations, banks, galleries, and individual collectors. Along with this recognition come corresponding prices commanded for outstanding photographs by well-known photographers. For example, one self-portrait of photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, who died of AIDS in 1989, sold for close to $40,000. Recent photography sales at auction houses such as Sotheby's and Christie's, and at some prominent New York City galleries, have resulted in sales of photographs much in excess of their estimated value. Some photos even sold for up to triple the estimates, with some top-quality prints made by Alfred Stieglitz during his lifetime selling in a group of 21 for a record $396,000. A self-portrait of Paul Outerbridge sold for $99,000.
Quality photographs made by early photographers, especially those from a limited edition and signed, can be good investments. This does not imply that every photograph could potentially have such a high value, but outstanding examples of recognized master photographers are finally receiving the recognition and respect deserved by pioneers of the medium. Current sales trends show that creative, reliable photographers who can consistently produce top-quality results under a wide variety of circumstances can make considerable money.
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