Arbus' Child with a Toy Hand Grenade makes $511,000

An artist's print of Diane Arbus’ Child with a Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park, NYC has sold for $511,500.

It is one of the most famous photographs of the 20th century.

Arbus hand grenade

The eighth shot was the winner

Taken in 1962, it is the eighth of 12 shots Arbus took of the boy that day, as the exasperated sitter vents his frustration at having to pose. The hand grenade appears from the sixth shot onwards.

"This is the moment when the boy slips from posing ‘as he should’ and what he reveals is both unexpected and menacing," says Christie's, the auction house behind yesterday's sale.

“Arbus releases the shutter and in that fraction of a second produces an image that has transfixed the world for over 50 years.”

In addition to the work's fame, rarity played a key role in the selling price; just three examples of the work printed by Arbus herself have sold at auction.

The piece depicts Colin Wood, son of Wimbledon tennis champion Sidney Wood.

Colin told the Washington Post he was "imitating a face I'd seen in war movies, which I loved watching at the time."

Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons television programme, has said he used the photo as the basis for the Bart Simpson character.

The photography auction was topped by Edward Weston's 1925 work Nude, printed by the artist.

Edward Weston nude

Edward Weston's lover Miriam Lerner

It sold for $871,500, further evidence of the significance collectors attach to those prints produced by the artists themselves.  

The 1925 work depicts model Miriam Lerner in the second and final year of the pair's romantic relationship.

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