Avedon's Nastassja Kinski and the Serpent achieves $74,500


Nastassja Kinski and the Serpent, one of Richard Avedon's most famous works, brought $74,500 in an auction on May 1.


Richard Avedon Nastassja Kinski & The Serpent
Richard Avedon's Nastassja Kinski & The Serpent

The famous image first appeared in an issue of Vogue magazine and went on to become a best-selling poster. A brilliantly realised photograph, it has become one of the most iconic works in Avedon's unrivalled back catalogue.

Richard Avedon was one of the world's foremost fashion and portrait photographers who, according to the New York Times, "helped define America's image of style, beauty and culture". He died in 2004.

Nastassja Kinski, now 51, was aged just 20, and at the height of her career when the photograph was taken. The Avedon shoot was conducted in 1981 following the release of Roman Polanski's Tess in 1979, for which she won a Golden Globe award. 

Kinski reportedly sat for over two hours before the perfect shot was captured, with the Burmese python flicking its tongue in her ear.

The current record for Richard Avedon's work is held by 1955's Dovima with Elephants. The arresting photograph was on show at Avedon's New York office before being sold for €841,000 ($1.1m) at Christie's in 2010.

In the same 2010 sale, which was held to raise funds for the Richard Avedon Foundation, a set of four psychedelic prints of the Beatles made €445,000 ($585,472), further highlighting the value of Avedon's work to collectors.

Steve McCurry's Afghan Girl also starred in the auction. The mesmerising image, which was named "the most recognised photograph" by National Geographic magazine after appearing on the cover, has seen global success. It sold for $13,750, almost doubling its high estimate of $7,000.

Iconic imagery always experiences strong results at auction. This characteristic signed photograph of Charlie Chaplin from Paul Fraser Collectibles shows the actor in one of his best loved roles, "The Tramp".

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