Issue #139  1/3/2008
Richard Prince's Marlboro Man Sets World Record of $3.4 Million For Photo At Auction

By Alex Novak

Richard Prince's Marlboro Man
Richard Prince's Marlboro Man

Richard Prince's Marlboro Man (Untitled, Cowboy) sold at Sotheby's, NY's November 14, 2007 Contemporary Art Evening Sale for $3,401,000. That beat the record for a photograph at auction previously held by Andreas Gursky's 99-cent diptych of $3,346,456, which had been set at Sotheby's London on February 7, 2007. It also beat Prince's own previous record for a photograph set at Christie's, NY's May 16, 2007 Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale where it sold for $2,840,000

Considering the edition size of this copy print was supposedly only two (except for the ads themselves, of course), it is amazing how many of these have come up for auction or are in institutional collections. This one was an AP. I wonder just how many APs were produced. Most of the price difference between the Prince and Gursky auction prices--not that it really matters--was a result of the higher buyer's fees that Sotheby's had put in place later in 2007.

The only downside to this record-breaking auction for the photo market is that Prince's artist record was reset during this same sale. Instead of a photograph, which had held his record as an artist (Marlboro Man), one of Prince's Nurses paintings sold for even more than the Marlboro Man. "Piney Woods Nurse", 2002, sold at the same sale for a whopping $6,089,000 and is currently the world auction record for a work by Richard Prince.

Novak has over 45 years experience in the photography-collecting arena. He is a long-time member and formally board member of the Daguerreian Society, and, when it was still functioning, he was a member of the American Photographic Historical Society (APHS). He organized the 2016 19th-century Photography Show and Conference for the Daguerreian Society. He is also a long-time member of the Association of International Photography Art Dealers. Novak has been a member of the board of the nonprofit Photo Review, which publishes both the Photo Review and the Photograph Collector, and is currently on the Photo Review's advisory board. He was a founding member of the Getty Museum Photography Council. He is author of French 19th-Century Master Photographers: Life into Art.

Novak has had photography articles and columns published in several newspapers, the American Photographic Historical Society newsletter, the Photograph Collector and the Daguerreian Society newsletter. He writes and publishes the E-Photo Newsletter, the largest circulation newsletter in the field. Novak is also president and owner of Contemporary Works/Vintage Works, a private photography dealer, which sells by appointment and at exhibit shows, such as AIPAD New York and Miami, Art Chicago, Classic Photography LA, Photo LA, Paris Photo, The 19th-century Photography Show, etc.