Yesterday the National Geographic Soceiety auctioned off 232 photograps and other works of art at Chrisie's in New York. Details are in the Washington Post. The sales netted 3.8 million dollars including $178,900 paid for Steve McCurry's iconic Afgan Girl photo. Steves's picture was the highest price paid for an image from a living artist by an order of magnitude.
The biggest sale was over $1 million paid for a Wyeth painting "Duel on the Beach", and the biggst photographic sale was $266,500 paid for a set of William Henry Jackson and John K. Hillers USGS photos.
The society was selling the physical objects only. It still retains the rights to publish the images. Selling a tiny fraction of the archive is an interesting way start the celebration of the Society's 125th year. THe sale raises the archive's profile and it demonstrates that images gain value as time passes.
In a world that is flooded with images that is a good thing to remember.