Chimpanzee’s Photographs Set to Fetch Over $100,000 At Auction


Having photographs sell for more than $100,000 at a world famous auction house is no small feat, and it’s one that will likely soon be accomplished by a photographer who gives new meaning to the term “chimping” every time he snaps a frame. The photographer is Mikki, a chimpanzee.

Mikki received his basic photography education from well-known Russian conceptual artists Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid, who work as Komar and Melamid. The duo spotted the ape some time ago while at the Moscow Circus.

After training the primate with a Polaroid camera at first, the artists then decided to teach Mikki the ways of analog photography. When he graduated from a modern film camera, Mikki was taught to use an old school large format camera.

A batch of 18 photographs by Mikki and of Mikki will be auctioned on June 5, 2013 by Sotheby’s auction house in London. The collection is titled “Our Moscow Through the Eyes of Mikki.”

What’s crazy is the price the collection is expected to fetch: experts say the prints will fetch up to £70,000, or around $106,000!

The prints in the collection include images of the artists teaching Mikki how to use various cameras:





The other prints are photos captured by Mikki in 1998. Mikki’s photographs are mostly colorful out-of-focus snaps showing Moscow’s Red Square:






Sotheby’s contemporary art curator, Suad Garayeva, says the collection is “a very important piece of work”:

It’s a very important piece of work, and it is very exciting to be able to sell the pictures at auction. There’s been a lot of interest because it’s very unusual and it works on so many different levels. It’s an alternative view of Moscow as seen through alternative vision. writes that the work plays on “the notions of art and it’s value,” and that “the artists questioned the role of the human race and the relevance and exclusivity of artistic talent.”

We’ve reported on monkey’s trying their hand at photography before, but if Mikki’s photos are sold for their expected prices, he would likely become the world’s best-selling ape photographer.

(via Sotheby’s via Metro News)

  • Ivor Wilson

    I think my Cynicometer just broke.

  • P.

    Next photo book due out any day: “How to Photograph Like a Monkey – For Dummies”

  • niXerKG

    This is like the grandfather of Instagram.

  • gill

    can’t be dumber than that…how is that an alternate view, it’s just view of camera not of ‘Mikki’ – the chimp.

  • Mantis

    F*ck it. Now excuse me while I pitch my camera in the trash and take up knitting or something.

  • Mark O’Brien

    gah. stupid stuff. They aren’t even as good as Lomography photos.

  • Adam Cross

    instead of being sold for money as curiosities they should simply be displayed as an example of how vile we are as a species.

  • B.Bandit

    He used the wrong ape-rture

  • eraserhead12

    that chimp needs a Lytro..

  • Karen Netterstrom

    haha! the funniest comment, yet

  • Greg Heller

    It’s too bad that Sotheby’s contemporary art curator, Suad Garayeva isn’t as talented as the chimp. “It’s an alternative view of Moscow as seen through alternative vision.” Really Suad? Anyone who pays any amount for those photos needs a check-up. $100,000 really Suad? Shame on Sotheby’s I thought it was a reputable firm.

  • Les Dishman

    Confirms my long-held suspicion that the monetary value we assigned to much of what we call art is not about the “art” itself, but is more about how we explain it to people who have money to spend.

  • André Sebastian

    That’s it, now that Sotheby’s made art from out of focus photos shoot by an ape and on top calls them “.. very important piece of work.” I really have seen it all!!!

  • Jackson Cheese

    Some of you guys have a real chimp on your shoulder about this. It’s just not worth going apesh*t over.

    I personally think this could be a real baboon to the photographic art scene, so let’s just stop gibboning Sotheby’s a hard time.

  • Ian Spiers

    How long until Mikki’s on tour, selling workshops?

  • Joseph Campanella

    The funny thing is, the photos of the chimp taking the pictures are actually interesting.

  • veni vidi

    Worst excuse for art.

  • Mikki

    Haters hate. Mikki laugh. Many many bananas for Mikki. Females impressed. Who alpha chimp now?

  • Brian Grady

    Right, ok I quit.

  • TheDanarchist

    I liked Mikki’s early stuff.

  • elizabeth england

    The art world has officially reached a new low. I’m a photographer though, so maybe it’s just professional jealousy…

  • Umbuklu

    im sure he shoots JPG.. and nikon….

  • bob cooley

    Well, the ‘evolution’ of it at least ;)

  • Scott M.

    Now you guys know how it feels to compete in the oil painting field, where a blue canvas with a green stripe down the middle just sold for $43 million. Paul Allen sold it.s

  • Mike

    Alpha is Human.

  • Mike

    1- Someone makes you hold a thing
    2- When you touch a small thing on the thing, it makes a sound. Then Someone hands you a banana.

    3- Eat, enjoy
    4-Learn that pressing that thing=bananas
    5-Press thing whenever can.

  • Jason Kazuta

    If he looks at the back of the camera, is the proper verb still “chimping”? At any rate, he seems quite cAPEable! BTW, is there a bobobo-nus for best pun? Time for some gorilla tactics!

  • Richard Sisk

    Yeah that’s great, but does he do his own darkroom work? I think not…

  • Terry Thomas Photos

    Since when is a chimpanzee an ape?

  • Jason Kazuta

    Chimpanzees are members of the Great Apes.

  • Spongebob Nopants

    You have won the internet. We can all go home now.

  • Spongebob Nopants

    for day to day shooting he prefers a Gorrilympus.

    I bet for his first sale he cracked open a bottle of the finest chimpagne.

    Despicable puns aside it’s obvious he doesnt understand what he’s doing. He’s not choosing what to shoot. He’s even not pointing the camera or looking thru the viewfinders. All he’s aware of is to fiddle something with his finger.

    If I had seen footage of him recognizing what he photographed with the polaroid then I might think he knew what he was doing.

    I might as well press my cat’s paw on my camera and say he took the photo.

    Or better yet hit the shutter button with a basketball. SEE FOLKS! The Amazing Basketball that is a photographer!

    So no these pictures are not thru the eyes of the monkey.

    The artwork painted by elepehants is far more authentic art. They have been witnessed spontaniously making images in sand and have been taught to paint with brushes and paints. They are actually doing it. This monkey is just pushing a button.

    Though the first three pics with his junk in view out are a bit remeniscent of Maplethorp.

  • Tom Waugh

    I’m sure the black suited art brigade will lap them up but really I can’t see any merit whatsoever in these images. Emperors new clothes anyone?

  • WorldsNumberOneMonkeyExpert

    If it has a tail it’s a monkey, if not, it’s an ape.

  • Welly_eh

    How can the chimp get the exposure correct on every photo but not the focus? Surely focusing would have been easier for a chimp than working out the correct exposure. This is rather fishy.

  • Franc

    When I first saw the post header I asked myself. “Where was it sold? In Moscow?!” And I was almost right…
    Cheers for all Russian patriots in London :D

  • orson wells

    I think the elephants that paint have a lot more talent. The chimp needs a lot more practice. My photos are better than these.

  • scotthuck

    The curators comments are just dumb … “It’s a very important piece of work …”