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Lions, Leopards or Elephants, Anyone?

Leopard Staring, 2010. © Nick Brandt

In certain pockets of the economy, you’d never know there’s a recession! Consider the recently released black and white photographic images of British photographer Nick Brandt at the Fahey-Klein Gallery (www. faheykleingallery.com) in Los Angeles.

Being collectors of fine photography for some thirty years, we’ve been interested in Brandt’s work in East Africa for some time. He creates beautiful black and white images of large African mammals—animal portraits, if you will. The best images are close-ups with beautiful lighting that are taken from a low angle—most of them a result of close encounters with these magnificent beasts.

We had hoped to invest in one of these new images at a favorable price once the gallery had notified us of the release date (with fair warning that we’d need to decide quickly!) Pricing goes up steeply as the edition of a photograph sells out (and Brandt’s edition sizes are small, usually 20 prints or less of each image).

Things got out-of hand! After viewing the images, we thought we’d take a few days to decide on a purchase. Checking back with the gallery just hours later, we discovered prices had already doubled or tripled, depending on the image! One compelling portrait titled Leopard Staring, for example, had already escalated from $5,000 to $15,000…and one of the most beautiful elephant close-ups we’ve ever seen had moved up to $16,000. Yet another image was already over $20,000. We decided to pass.

Recession? Not among avid collectors of photography! The fall auctions at Christie’s and Sotheby’s in New York should be interesting in terms of gauging the overall market.

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