Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Dell buys Magnum...

Computer builder and photography collector Michael Dell bought the press print archive of Magnum photos. At first, I thought that he had bought the agency, lock, stock, and barrel. But after reading this story in the NYT, I realized that what he had bought, was the press prints archive of images that Magnum photogs had made over the years, all 180,000 of them. Essentially, the press prints are vintage prints that the agency would send out to magazines back in the day when a magazine was doing a story on particular subject. Lets say Time is doing a story on WWII, they would call photo agencies and have the agencies send over a box of prints of WWII images. Then, if Time were to use any of the images in the magazine, they would pay the agency a usage fee, and the photographer would get half of that. In the past, these press prints weren't really looked at as collectible the way an editioned print of the same image was from a gallery. But recently, there has been a trend of buying vintage prints with historical value, and frankly the art photography world has become so diluted and questionable with these images that collectors dont see them as having much value anymore. There's always a "new" edition, or a little different size, and now prints are essentially ink jet, not traditional darkroom prints like these. All of these prints in the magnum collection have notes and a rich history written on the backs of them and really are one of a kind, and alot of the times printed by the photographer himself. At first I thought "100,000,000 is way too much for a bunch of press prints". But after pulling out my calculator, it came to 555 per print, not a bad deal at all as magnum really owned photojournalism and had the best photographers last century..... Hopefully this money will help Magnum reinvent itself and recapture it's previous glory....

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your value calculation ($555 per pic) makes mathematical sense, but is it sensible? Are all 180,000 pics of equal value? I would bet you $555 that 95% of the collection (171,000 pics)is worth $1 each, .01% (18 pics) is worth $100,000 each, and the rest, 4.99% (8,982 pics) is each worth approximately $10,000 ($10,914 to be exact). Or maybe its just a rich man playing with his money.....
jaydee