Peter Lik, the award-winning fine art photographer of landscapes and nature, has sold one of his photos for a record-breaking $6.5 million. The black and white image, Phantom, is now the most expensive in the world, having been purchased by a private collector. The total purchase price of $10 million also included two other photos by him, Illusion for $2.4 million and Eternal Moods for $1.1 million. The Peter Lik photo sale is making history, both as a single achievement and as a collective group.
Not only is Phantom the most expensive photo in the world, but all three of these images join the list of the top 20 photos ranked in order of selling price. Lik now has four photos among the top ranking positions. His image, One, made the list in 2010 after selling for $1 million.
Phantom was taken in Antelope Canyon, a slot canyon that formed over millions of years in Arizona by natural flowing water. In the center of the photo is a white, ghostlike figure appearing in a subterranean cavern. This black and white photo is a representation of his earlier color work, Ghost.
The buyer of the Peter Lik photos has chosen not to be named publicly even though the sale has made art history. Joshua Roth, counsel for the buyer, has said that this “long-time collector of Lik’s works” is pleased to have these to add to an “impressive collection.” Mark G. Tratos, attorney for Peter Lik and LIK USA, said this sale denotes “another milestone in the development of fine art photography,” and represents a “new benchmark” in the value of these works.
Lik, originally from Melbourne, Australia, started taking photos of nature when he was eight years old. His parents had given him a Brownie Kodak camera as a gift. He went out in the family garden and snapped the image of a spider web. That was the beginning of a lifelong calling to share his artistry and the inspiring natural scenery of the world. In his words, the purpose of his photos is “to capture the power of nature” and present it so that it “inspires someone to feel passionate and connected to the image.”
While on a trip in the U.S. in 1984, he discovered his interest in panoramic photography. He perfected his craft over the next two decades, traveling back and forth from Australia to the U.S. He took on a huge project in the 1990s by photographing landscapes in all 50 states. This was known later as the Spirit of America and involved 1,000 rolls of film over 50,000 miles.
The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History displayed his iconic images of Ghost and Inner Peace as part of the 2011 exhibition, Nature’s Best Photography. After the Smithsonian exhibit, a TV series produced by NBC, From the Edge with Peter Lik, earned him mainstream recognition. The photographer became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2013.
He has received numerous awards and honors. Some of the major ones include being named a Master Photographer from the Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP) and from the Professional Photographers of America (PPA). The British Institute of Professional Photographers (BIPP) awarded him a fellowship, as did The Royal Photographic Society (RPS).
Peter Lik’s photo sales have made history even before the record-breaking $6.5 million. Over the years, he has sold photos totaling more than $500 million to collectors who are celebrities, presidents and royalty. He has 14 galleries throughout the U.S. with the most recent one having opened in San Diego, CA, Aug. 30, 2014. His work is also in large estates, corporate offices, and luxury hotels, in addition to gallery exhibits.
By Cynthia Collins
Photo credit: Phantom by Peter Lik. Courtesy of PRNewsFoto/LIK USA