The $6.5 Million Phantom: The Most Expensive Photograph Ever Sold

By | December 11, 2014

Peter Lik’s black and white shot of an Arizona canyon comes with an enormous price tag of the likes of which has never been seen before.






most expensive photograph - peter lik

“The purpose of all my photos is to capture the power of nature and convey it in a way that inspires someone to feel passionate and connected to the image,” said award-winning fine art photographer Peter Lik in a recent press release.

Lik, known worldwide for his prominent landscape photographs, sold his image, entitled, “Phantom”, for a whopping $6.5 million, setting a new world record, making it the most expensive photograph ever taken. The photograph was taken in Arizona’s Antelope Canyon, which is located on Navajo land, near the Arizona-Utah border.

Antelope Canyon is a popular tourist attraction that is often frequented by landscape photographers because of an area of the slot canyon that shows a ray of light resembling a “ghostlike figure” (hence the name Phantom). The area has been carved out by natural flowing water over the course of millions of years, leaving a wondrous and pristine site for photographers to catch the beauty of nature.

“Certain textures and contours found in nature lend themselves beautifully to black and white photography. The intensity of contrasting light and dark spaces was surprising, but made for some of the most powerful images I’ve ever created,” says Lik.

The image was sold to an unnamed collector at an unprecedented price. To put this mammoth price tag into perspective, the previous title of the most expensive photograph ever sold, was held by German visual artist, Andreas Gursky, when he sold a print of his acclaimed photograph, “Rhein II”, for $4.3 million in 2011 (a whopping $2.2 million less than what “Phantom” sold for).

The Phantom is actually a black and white print of Lik’s original colored photograph, known as “Ghost”.

What’s even more interesting is that Lik announced that the same exact buyer purchased two other photographs for an astounding $2.4 million and $1.1 million, entitled “Illusion” and “Eternal Moods”. This brings Lik’s total to $10 million in sales off of only three individual prints.

Lik first rose to fame after selling a photograph entitled, “One” in 2011, for $1 million (pictured below) which even led to a short stint starring in his own NBC produced TV series, “From the Edge with Peter Lik.”

Peter Lik’s “One” was shot on the banks of the Androscoggin River in New Hampshire just after dawn

Peter Lik’s “One” was shot on the banks of the Androscoggin River in New Hampshire just after dawn

Though the sale of “One” put the self taught photographer, Lik on the map, he has reportedly sold over $150 million in limited edition prints, which means he is no stranger to bringing in the big money with his photography.

Peter Lik, was born in Australia, but moved to the United States in 1984. As a young boy, he was always enamored by the beauty of nature and sought to capture it through the means of photography. Through his unwavering passion, came his success. He is now known for having sold 4 of the 20 most expensive photographs of all-time, one of which is the “Phantom” which (for now) boasts the highest price tag for any photograph ever shot.