TOP, as photo blog followers will know, is The Online Photographer, Mike Johnston’s excellent site. He recently posted this article, And We Have a New Winner. The winner is in fact the new holder of the title “the world’s most expensive photograph”. It depicts a small section of the river Rhein, three strips of grass and a towpath. Yup. That’s it. Oh, I nearly forgot. You get some sky thrown in. Now I do know the Rhein pretty well. I lived in Düsseldorf for 3 years. Glutton for punishment that I was, I even used to go to the Rheinstadion to watch Fortuna play soccer. That was in the days when they had a (half) decent team. Nostalgia-addict I may be but I can’t really begin to contemplate paying $4,338,500 for a large print of a picture that has the word tedium written all over it. Actually it doesn’t because that would spoil the impact. TOP reports that the image was also digitally manipulated. I assume that means all the interesting bits were removed.
I suggest that after you follow the link and gaze with bewilderment at the said image, you also read the comments.
Now before we (or more accurately, I) assume that the buyer is one cup short of a tea set this might, just might, be a good investment. After all from tulips to CDOs, bubbles have been blown and it is only the last mugs in line that lose. Others have bought and flipped for a profit. Tulips have no significant intrinsic value. You can go down to the local gardening emporium and buy all manner of bulbs for a few quid. But tulip mania took off and perhaps people will be queueing up to pay more for a shot of the Rhein due to its scarcity value. In this case I agree that scarcity is a thoroughly good thing.
I have to confess I could not bring myself to read all the comments as I was laughing too much. Most people seemed bewildered by the whole idea. I also toyed with the idea of nipping down to the local town, photographing the seawall and a few feet of the South China Sea and trying to flog it on e Bay for a modest fortune. I am not greedy. I am not thinking of $4.3m. Heavens no, $2m would do me fine. That would keep Mrs. H in handbags for a few months. Maybe even a posh frock or two thrown in. I am rather busy this afternoon though so instead of going out I shall diligently trawl the archives of my hard drive and offer you an image that I think has considerably more interest and is arguably worth more than the dingy, grey waters of the Rhein. You see mine has vibrant colours in it and the only thing removed from it is the contents of the bottles. Dear readers, I offer, you a crate of empty beer bottles.
I’ll drink to that. And may I thank Mayank Pandey for the inspiration to write this short appreciation of fine art. Do visit his site.