Vintage till by Sascha Perrone

What is the value of a photograph? It’s an impossible question that we’ll continue asking time-and-again as artists because, in truth, it’s worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it.

Here at 500px, our top-notch Prime team sold one image for $20,000. That’s our record (so far… onwards and upwards!). But as the infographic below put together by Paul Dorrell Photography shows, it’s not even CLOSE to the most expensive photographs ever sold.

Here is the official Top 10 list:

Basic RGB

Some of you may point out that photographer Peter Lik “sold” a photo for a whopping $6.5 million at the end of 2014, beating Gursky handsomely. But if you look up the list of most expensive photos ever sold, Peter Lik is not on it.

As Andrew Taylor explains in this intriguing article from the Canberra Times, people in the know are rightfully skeptical of Lik’s claims.

Let’s consider the facts.

The work was sold privately to an unknown buyer and no documentary proof beyond a press release of the sale appears to have been provided.

Lik’s work has been ignored by major public art galleries and dismissed by critics.

When his photos have gone up for public auction, they have not sold well. Australia’s most famous photographer Bill Henson sells for nowhere near Lik’s astronomical prices.


Lik’s $US6.5 million price tag is so improbable as to require proof beyond mere assertion in a press release.

"Phantom," the photo Lik claims he sold for over 6 million US dollars.

“Phantom,” the photo Lik claims he sold for over 6 million US dollars.

When you consider that Lik has never sold a photo for more than $15,860 at auction, the validity of that widely-reported sale comes into question. For now at least, consider the list above the accurate one.