Simulated Battlefield Photo Sells for $3.6 Million, Sets Canadian Record

A fake war photograph by Canadian artist Jeff Wall was sold yesterday at Christie’s in NYC for a staggering $3.6 million — a new record for Canadian photographers and the third highest price ever paid for a picture. The 1992 photo, titled Dead Troops Talk, was captured inside a suburban Vancouver studio using models, borrowed military outfits, and fake blood. It shows a group of dead Soviet soldiers chatting with one another during the Soviet-Afghan war of 1986. The sold image is one of two copies that exist, and considered Wall’s most important creation. Interestingly enough, Andreas Gurksy (who holds the record for most expensive photo) cites Wall as an influence.

(via The Vancouver Sun)

  • Joey Duncan

    My guess is that the person who bought this doesn’t get on the internet, or watch movies very much, much like the other “most expensive ” photos, they probably meant a hell of a lot more to people back in the early 90’s when they were taken. That and who ever spent the money didn’t care about spending. 


  • Kbg32

    I consider Jeff to be one of the most overrated photographers around. Glad it wasn’t my money.

  • rohit kothati@ click kudos

    :O 36 million for a fake picture man is this man syco or what

  • Everyone with taste

     Funny, I consider you to be severely overrated, JD Memories Photography.

  • thehiker

    One of Gursky’s influence ‘s that makes sense all this money for boring  work in both images Wall and Gursky, wallpaper for the one percent that have all the money.

  • Suman0102

     I’d be shitting my pants too if it was 36 million :P
    Jokes aside, Jeff Wall is a pretty famous photographer. and like many fine art photographers, their images sell for prices I’d never pay even if I was SUPER wealthy.

  • Aeiou11235

    I’ve seen this print in the mid 90ies and was absolutely stunned by it. It’s one of the most amazing photographs I know. A large format print of it was hanging for years in my studio. Wish I had the money to buy the original…

  • mythbuster

    What is the difference of a copy with the original? It´s not oil painting! You can make as much copies as you want without any problem. Overrated, overpriced, absurd…

  • Aeiou11235

    The difference is that – if you’ve ever seen an original by Jeff Wall – that it’s huge and lighted from the back, like a very big slide. The print is so big and detailed that you’re literally “getting sucked into it”, that you’re part of the scene. If anyone can reproduce this I’d be happy to buy a copy.

    To argue that it shouldn’t be that expensive just because it’s not an “oil painting” does not make any sense. If I go and buy a diamond for 5 Million Dollars then it’s also not an oil painting. Why should only “oil paintings” be valuable? What about acrylic paintings? What about water colours?

    The manufacturing process and presentation of the picture (size, printing-technique, mounting, framing,…) is in the case of Jeff Wall (and Gursky and others) can indeed add value to the picture. If it wouldn’t add value on the picture and only the “information of the picture” would be important (what is readable in the picture) then we all could be happy with copies of the Mona Lisa and burn the original.

  • Aeiou11235

    Just to add: no I’m not rich and I don’t have the money to even buy a copy. I’m a starving photographer myself, so: no offense.

    It’s always the most easy way to criticize the success of others if you yourself have none. But if you’re a photographer yourself you should be happy that the price got kicked up a bit again and that maybe you might be able to sell a picture of yours at a similar rate, depending on how successful you are.

  • John Dunne

    …shows a group of dead Soviet soldiers chatting with one another… Huh?

  • Michael Courier

    I’m glad there are a few people replying to this that have seen his work in person. The Art Institute in Chicago had his work displayed a few years ago. The room was fairly dark, except for the light of his work.

    Stunning. The prints we so large, it was like you were in the scene. 

  • mythbuster

      I can´t agree. The manufacturing process and presentation of the picture add value indeed, but not more than 3 million dollars value. The comparation with the 5 million dollars diamond is nonsense as you can´t get a copy of it.
    By the way, recently a collector sued photographer William Egglestone for selling extra copies of a photograph alleging the artist diminished the value of the copy he bought some years before…

  • Aeiou11235

    @59d4f038d43ce3f015c0a0b09e071b18:disqus  Very nice, now we have a discourse instead of the random comments-shit…
    In my opinion the manufacturing process and presentation of the picture can indeed add value to the picture:

    A) “The Artist’s Touch”

    Even if you buy a one-to-one copy of an artwork that is reproduced by the exact measurements and specifications of the original, so that the copy is a 1-to-1-copy of the original, then the original that the artist actually conceived will still have a much higher value than the copy. It’s the artist’s touch. I don’t agree with that (not in all cases) but it’s definitively there.

    B) Presentation & Manufacturing

    The way an artwork is presented and the way it is manufactured can add value to a picture, because it just makes a very huge difference if you print a photograph at the Fuji-Lab on DIN A3 on glossy paper or if you print it by hand by dye-transfer on a huge screen. It’s the same way as art-works in general get treated: the manufacturing process adds value. Otherwise the HC Breston print (made by a printing press) you can buy framed at IKEA should have the same value as the print that he actually printed by himself (on photographic paper) in the darkroom.

    C) Value is in the eye of the beholder

    If someone wants to pay 3.6 (?) millions of dollars for a print then it is in my opinion legit. If I want to sell a piece of moldy bread and someone offers me a million $$$ for it, I would take the money, too. No questions asked.

    Then there’s other people who are complaining about me getting one million $$$ for a piece of rotten food, but honestly: what should I care about that? I have my million! Did they make it to sell a piece of moldy bread for a million bucks to someone? Obviously not, otherwise they wouldn’t have a reasoin to complain. So: fuck the mockers…

     Why is it such a big problem for all the photographers who do not get this rate to complain about everyone else to get this rate? I had jobs that paid me 5000 USD a day but I’m neither rich nor do I get these jobs every day. Still I have to listen to the complaints about half-baked photographers who complain that they wouldn’t get the same rate. I honestly give a fuck. They should try to get there and if they don’t get there then they are either not good enough or not professional enough or they will earn ten-fold when they are already dead (lucky descendants) or they are just bad. I give a shit.

    In my opinion everyone who’s complaining about the success of others is completely depraved, sorry.

  • Aeiou11235

    Sorry for my English, I got messed up with the prepositions (by, at, etc…). English is not my mother-language, excuse moi…

  • Jackson Cheese

    Is this the thread where we insult each others photography?

  • mythbuster

     Who is complaining about the success of others? I am very happy with the success of this Canadian photographer (by the way, I earned net 19000 $ a month during two years of work) and I also think you can spend your money as you like. The matter is that a photographer can make countless copies of a work  and this fact undoubtely diminish the value of each copy sold. Based in this fact, a collector sued renowned photographer William Egglestone and I think his lawsuit is reasonable. So I sincerely believe this work is extremely overpriced.

  • art photography

    Thanks for the info.

  • mythbuster

    In 2007 at Christie´s  of London 50 rare Goya´s engravings (the “photographs” of the past) were sold all of them for 1,2 million euro. Much of them unique prints. Could you compare 50 Goyas with a very good contemporary photograph?

  • mythbuster

    “many” not “much”, sorry ;-)