Fine art photographs carry with them a kaleidoscope of price ranges from a little splurge to a jaw-dropping investment. While your home art budget may be more in the hundreds or thousands and not the millions, it’s always fun to dream.

These are our favorite most expensive photos ever sold and why we love them. Learn how to create your own expensive-looking art prints without breaking the bank.

Andreas Gursky: Rhein II (1999) – $4.3M
Edward Steichen: The Flatiron – $11.8M
Richard Prince: (Untitled) Cowboy – $3.7M
Cindy Sherman: (Untitled) #96 (1981) – $3.8M
Peter Lik: Phantom – $6.5M

Andreas Gursky: Rhein II (1999) – $4.3M

German photographer, Andreas Gursky (1955-present) is renowned for his large-format landscape and architecture photographs. Our favorite is Gursky’s Rhein II (1999) which sold for $4,338,500 (November 8, 2011).

Many have attributed the artwork’s remarkable value not only to its size and technique but also to its rarity. Among the limited number of existing pieces, only six are known to exist, with three held in prestigious public museums (Moma, Tate, Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich), one in a private museum, and merely two remaining in private collections.

Rhein II is a simple, yet mesmerizing work of art. Nearly 12 feet wide and mounted on Plexiglass, the print’s size itself is something to behold. As far as the composition goes, Gurnsky breaks several traditional rules, but it works. For example, the photo is cut in half by the horizon. Composed of alternating horizontal stripes in two colors- gray and green- the photo is balanced and expressive.

The Rhein II 1999 photography by Andreas Gursky born 1955

Copyright: Andreas Gursky

Edward Steichen: The Flatiron – $11.8M

Edward Steichen (1879-1973) was a prominent photographer and a pioneer in the world of modern art. Born in Luxembourg, he later moved to the United States and became one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century.

Steichen’s famous New York City photograph The Flatiron was sold for $11.8 million (November 10, 2022) at Christie’s New York, making it the second-most expensive photograph ever sold. This photo of NYC’s iconic Flatiron building was photographed in 1904 and originally sold for over $2 million, which was much higher than expected.

The Flatiron is a moody still picture that evokes a lot of emotion. It feels intense, yet calm at the same time. It was taken at twilight, so there is a combination of natural dusky light and street light. There are also several interesting focal points- the tree branches, the building, and the people walking down the street.

The Flatiron photography by Edward Steichen

Copyright: Edward Steichen

Richard Prince: Untitled (Cowboy) – $3.7M

Untitled (Cowboy) is the work of American photographer and painter Richard Prince (1949-present). It was executed in 1989 and last sold on May 12, 2014, for $3,749,000. This photograph is nearly 3 meters wide, making it among the largest of Prince’s cowboy photographs from the 1980s.

This photograph is interesting and generates conversation because, like much of Prince’s work, it was created using appropriated mass media imagery from ads and magazines. This particular photograph was made using a Marlboro ad. Cowboys are a very romanticized part of the American mythos and calls to mind feelings of freedom, heroism, grit, and adventure.

Untitled (cowboys) photography by Richard Prince

Copyright: Richard Prince

Cindy Sherman: Untitled #96 (1981) – $3.8M

American artist Cindy Sherman’s (1954-present) body of work predominantly revolves around photographic self-portraits where she portrays herself in different contexts as various imagined characters. Untitled #96 is the iconic masterpiece from Cindy Sherman’s celebrated Centerfolds series and sold for $3,890,500 on May 11, 2011.

The photograph is one of 12 large-scale color photographs in Sherman’s Centerfolds series. The photos were originally commissioned by the contemporary art magazine Artforum, but they rejected her project, so Sherman finished it on her own.

In Untitled #96, we love the monochromatic oranges seen in the skirt, tile, shirt, hair, and warm glow of the young woman’s skin. The checkered pattern on her skirt is also reflected in the floor tile. It has a very cinematic look, like it is a still frame taken from a movie.

Untitled #96 photography by Cindy Sherman

Copyright: Cindy Sherman

Peter Lik: Phantom – $6.5M

Australian photographer Peter Lik (1959-present) is famous for his nature and panoramic landscape images. Peter Like holds four of the top 20 spots for most expensive photo prints, the most expensive being Phantom which sold for $6.5 million in December 2014.

Peter Lik has taken many awe-inspiring photographs of the American Southwest. Phantom was captured at the iconic Antelope Canyon in Arizona. It is actually a monochrome version of a previously published color photograph titled Ghost.

The center focal point of this other-worldly print is the phantom-like beam of light shining into the cavern. The soft shape of the hard sandstone also creates an interesting juxtaposition that we love. It manages to be enchanting, eerie, and ethereal all at the same time.

Click here to learn How to Print Like Peter Lik.

Phantom photography by Peter Lik

Copyright: Peter Lik

Create Your Own Expensive-Looking Art Prints

Luckily, decorating your home or office with art prints doesn’t have to come with a million-dollar price tag. Elevate your own photos or use free-to-use public domain art and print them with help from a high-quality art printing company. ArtisanHD has a wide selection of high-quality print materials and personalized customer service to bring your print projects to life.

Ready to transform your photos into jaw-dropping art that makes people wonder— How much did that cost?! Easily print your photographs with ArtisanHD and remember our print experts are always here to help.

Trustpilot Review ChromaluxeArtisanHD offers a variety of printing options so that you can find something that works for your space as well as five-star customer service and support. Contact us today!