Category Archives: Premium Prints

The Value of a True Limited Edition Print

A true limited edition print in the art world is harder to come by than it might first appear. Many art buyers are new to the market and will perhaps only make a purchase every few years; it’s a very rare handful who can afford the luxury of buying regularly and building up the expertise this brings.

So how do new buyers know that the money they’re investing in art is justified? How can they be reassured that they’re buying a true limited edition print and not paying over the odds for something with little to no value?


Negotiating a Good Buy in a Dishonest Market

Unfortunately, too many people take advantage of the inaccessible nature of the art world.  Ebay is rife with listings from sellers boasting that they have obtained a limited edition run of an image, signed by the artist themselves and for sale at an incredibly low price. The perpetrators are careful with their descriptions, often noting that the item listed is “hand-signed”, which it is, but by the hand of the seller, not the artist.

Sellers can print batches of these images after finding the picture online, sign the prints, pop them up for sale on auction sites and sit back and make a tidy and dishonest profit at the buyers’ expense.

Buying Limited Editions from an Art Gallery

At the other end of the scale are the gallery limited editions, which regularly sell for prices in the tens of thousands. These limited editions usually number under a dozen and investors making these purchasers can be assured that the work is genuine thanks to the contact with the gallery and sometimes the artist themselves.

What they can’t be assured of is their investment. Art is an unpredictable market, with popular artists and prints changing with the fashions. There is no guarantee that a print will increase in value, even if it was one of only five in the world and cost the buyer £10,000.

The individuals operating at this end of the market,   either have the money to buy expensive art for the sheer love of the image and price is no matter to their wallet – or they are professionals with a real understanding of the art world. But even these people are making only an educated guess with their investment.

The time needed to research the art world to this level is akin to a full-time job and the ever-changing nature of the market makes it a constant effort. And yet many people want to purchase true limited edition prints without risking their fortunes in doing so.

Low Risk Genuine Limited Edition Fine Art

ONGallery is providing a new way to access limited edition fine art photography which reduces the financial risk to buyers and offers a guarantee that what they’re buying is a genuine limited edition.  This isn’t the inaccessible world of high price galleries and it’s a million miles away from the faux bargain ‘limited editions’. These are true limited editions of some of the world’s most beautiful images.

Through years of building careful connections with world renowned artists and industry experts, the company is able to offer limited edition prints for sale for prices in the hundreds, rather than the thousands.

This is done by increasing the limited edition print runs of the image so that the number are in the low hundreds rather than dozens. By doing so, the artist still receives the money he or she deserves for their work but the market is no longer restricted and more buyers have the option of entering the market.

To reassure art buyers that their investment is the real deal, without demanding that they put tens of thousands on the line, fine art prints are sold with a Certificate of Authenticity. Usually something found in the most expensive of galleries, ONGallery’s Certificate of Authenticity is proof of the value of the buyer’s investment. It lists the size of the limited edition, the print number of this individual item, the title of the work, and the artist’s name and their signature (or in the case where the print has been acquired through the estate of the artist, it may feature the signature of the artist’s representative or agent).

The shift in approach is a change in the art world which is already making waves. Peter Neilson, founder and CEO of ONGallery, remarked: “We know how much limited editions matter in the art world, they are a hugely important part of the photograph’s value. But until recently, buyers were faced with an uncomfortable choice between the high prices of the galleries where art works came with guarantees of their authenticity, but prices were sky high; and affordable but unscrupulous online sellers, who offered far too many ‘too good to be true’ deals.

“ONGallery represents a genuine alternative to these two markets and it’s been a delight to see the positive reaction from buyers taking ownership of some of their favourite works.”

The Most Expensive Photograph in the World

The most expensive photograph in the world has an unlikely back story, one strangely distant from the world of high art. Peter Lik’s image Phantom demonstrates the beauty in the natural world and the play of light, but its achievement is beyond visual; the work is also a demonstration of the artist’s business skill.

Phantom was taken in one of Lik’s favourite places to shoot, Antelope Canyon in Arizona. The canyon itself is carved from the natural flow of water, which has rushed through the rock over millions of years. In a subterranean cavern in Antelope Canyon, Lik captured Phantom, a simple and haunting image of a shaft of sunlight in which dust is suspended, mimicking a haunting human figure.

A sister image of Phantom, titled Ghost, portrays the same shot in colour and bears a strong resemblance to the work of Jasper Dalgliesh, entitled Antelope Canyon, which is itself for sale at more accessible price bracket. Clearly the canyon is a favourite with photographers and fine art buyers alike for its fantastic colours and plays on light.

The Power of Nature

Phantom itself was in keeping with Lik’s style, he is known for his landscapes, which for fans and collectors, hold their value in the fact that the capture the essence of a place so well. In fact, many of Lik’s galleries are purposefully located in holiday destinations in order to connect with wealthy travellers keen to take home more than just memories of a great vacation they can connect with a wonderful vacation. Lik himself said: “The purpose of all my photos is to capture the power of nature and convey it in a way that inspires someone to feel passionate and connected to the image.”

But the sale of the most expensive photograph in the world didn’t make headlines for the artistic value of the piece, it was the financial value which got the press talking.

A Mysterious Record

On 9 December 2014 Peter Lik’s company, Lik USA, released a press release stating that a private collector had purchased Phantom for $6.5 million. The sale pushed his work in another league and smashed through the previous record holder, of Andreas Gusky’s Rhein II, which sold for $4.3 million at auction in 2011.

The announcement itself never quite gained the confirmation and clarity Lik’s PR team worked so hard to achieve and to this day the anonymity of the buyer and the art establishment’s lack of recognition for Lik’s work in general have meant that the sale price still has a air of doubt surrounding it.

However, it’s not something that Lik or his fans are losing any sleep over. His work, which is almost always sold through a clever limited edition pricing strategy of 995 prints, increases in price as the edition runs out and buyers are not difficult to find. An image that is initially offered for somewhere in the region of $4,000 at a Lik gallery, will later be listed for $17,500 once 95 per cent of the print run is sold out and the image is classed as ‘Premium Peter Lik’.

The same practice is seen in other limited edition prints from artists, but Lik’s strict adherence to the formula has made him one of the wealthiest, if not the wealthiest, fine art photographer of all time.

Rare and Expensive Beauty

For buyers, the potential of buying into something early and potentially capitalising on its rarity in later years is an attractive concept, even if doubts have emerged over the realistic chance of a high resell price for Lik’s work in particular. But for others, it’s as Lik executive Mr Fatoohi told the New York Times when asked about investment claims on the art: “We tell clients who ask about future values ‘Buy because you love it’. There are no guarantees.”

As with any art purchase, the love for the piece has to come first. But the limited edition nature of a print is doubtless a factor in many art purchasers, whether they’re looking at buying at Lik’s level, or seeking something more accessible, the limited edition nature of art is an important consideration in the purchase, guaranteeing the rarity of the beauty you’re bringing into your home.

Take a look at our premium collection for more amazing prints too special to ignore.

Spotlight On: Nudes

Tom Kelley- Sweetheart of the month

Sweetheart Of the month by Tom Kelley.

Great nude photography and art goes beyond the aesthetics and captures a  moment. It’s a form of artwork that many people have a particularly strong  reaction to, perhaps because the subjects are exposed, the artist is able to capture  something about the essence of the model.

There’s no denying that the bold statement a nude s hot provides is also highly desired by those looking to buy art; these pieces create a real connection with the owner.And with the truly iconic nude photographs,  there is very often a story or dare we say a great legend behind the image itself.  In some cases it’s the model, in others the photographer, or perhaps how the two were united in the creation of the piece.

Norma Jean Baker and Tom Kelley

In this genre of art, icons don’t get much greater  than Marilyn Monroe, or Norma  Jean Baker as she was known when Tom Kelly photographed her in 1949. Kelley took what is now one of the most infamous images of  Marilyn Monroe, but at the time, Monroe was unknown as an actress and the shoot was simply something she had agreed to in order to “pay the rent”.

Tom Kelley sold the shots to be published in a glamour girl pin-up calendar and for a few  years that was the end of the story. But in 1953, Hugh Hefner launched a new magazine, Playboy. Hefner purchased one of Kelley’s prints from the original calendar shoot and featured it in the very first is sue of the magazine, which sold over 50,000 copies.

The renowned early shot of Monroe doubtless played  a significant role in Playboy’s success and is now part of the Playboy Legacy Collection, a small selection of infamous shots of some of the most beautiful women to ever grace the pages of the magazine.

Ursula Andress, star of the fantastic James Bond  Dr No  scene in which the actress  emerges from the ocean in a white bikini, is another member of this exclusive Playboy club in the image she is Ursula Andress. A 1965 portrait taken by John Derek, her then husband, sees Andress reclining against a waterfall and is a  stunning portrayal of her confident sexuality.

When asked why she had agreed to the shoot, Andress  replied: “Because I’m beautiful.” Her response is in stark contrast to Monroe’s claims that she needed the money from her early calendars for rent, but each gives the images themselves a  backstory, adding the women’s identities to the images along with their physical sexuality.

Fine Art Nudes

Away from the glossy shots of Playboy is an area of  nudes more influenced by  artistic form and representation. Renowned artists  like Barry Lategan and Sanders Nicolson may work with the nude form in their piece s, but it’s their adaptation and playful inspiration which makes their shots iconic;  these artists provide an  interpretation of the female form as opposed to simply capturing the form which  they find before them.

Barry Lategan’s work has taken him from working with fashion royalty like Twiggy, who he is credited with having discovered, to shooting political figures including Margaret Thatcher. But it is some of his personal work that is most striking in its  originality.

Body in Satin, for example, or Bum & Plum are both  playful shots, highlighting his  own focus on the female form and allowing the viewer to take an alternative look at  the human body away from the forms we’ve become accustomed to.

Sanders Nicolson is another photographer who, while he enjoys a successful  advertising career, has always been passionate about fine art and creating  something under his own brief and influence. Nicolson’s work has created some striking imagery that creates a very erotic but equally emotional connection  between his subjects and the viewer.

Personal Choice

As with all art, buying the right nude image is about personal choice. But one thing to keep in mind is the diversity of this genre, it  portrays sexuality in its many different guises as well as touching on new interpretations of the human form. On top of this of course, is the simple fact that this genre features shots of some of the  most beautiful women in the world.  

Rue Aubriot / Le Smoking

Rue Aubriot-Le Smoking Photography Print
Controversial. Sexual. Timeless. Rue Aubriot is known to many as ‘Le Smoking’ but by whichever name you came across this fantastic image, it is instantly recognisable as the work of Helmut Newton and a piece well worth showcasing.

Newton’s art redefined the portrayal of women and to some, Rue Aubriot is the culmination of this: the light, the androgynous model and of course, the Yves Saint Laurent jacket all coming together to create a new strong femininity and a powerful sexuality that was symptomatic of its time and yet still relevant today.

His portrayal of women is something Newton has been both praised and criticised for. Much of his work has an overtly sexual focus and there have been times when it has been accused of overstepping the boundary between art and pornographic voyeurism.

Whichever side of the line you find yourself on, however, there is no denying that Newton’s work is beautiful and shocking. In analysing his pieces, it’s also worth remembering that Newton himself always stated with confidence that his work was about celebrating his love and admiration of women more than anything else – although it’s true that he also aspired to be seen as an agent provocateur.

A Statement Piece

In working with the YSL jacket, a piece which was first shown by the designer in 1966 as part of the Autumn/Winter ‘Pop Art’ collection, Helmut Newton found the perfect complement to his work, this stylised masculine item of fashion, reimagined on a female form.

The photograph itself was taken in the 1970s as part of a fashion shoot for French Vogue. Newton worked with a beautiful model and shot his work in a softly lit alley in Paris. There were other equally well-known images in the series, including one of a second female model, naked other than her simple black heels and entwined in a casual embrace with the woman in the Le Smoking jacket.

Newton used the shots as part of his publicity material with French fashion houses and magazines of the time. Many of the images he distributed in this way were printed by himself and a rare number have survived the decades.

Vintage Limited Edition Prints

ONGallery is among the handful of global outlets to have secured some of these world renowned prints. A limited number of pre-1985 printed photographs, authenticated by the artist’s former US agent Norman Solomon, can be viewed and purchased directly through the site.

The piece is one of the team’s favourites and is something we’re proud to hang in our office as a celebration of the strength of style and simplicity in art. Find out more about how you can own a limited edition vintage print of Rue Aubriot here.