Skip to main content

Ansel Adams photographs smash record, sell for $6.4 million

Ansel Adams
Ansel Adams in front of what is arguably his most famous image, "Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico". A 9x12in print of this picture is being auctioned with an estimate of $700,000-$1,000,000 (Image credit: Getty Images)

UPDATE: A collection of Ansel Adams' rare photographs has sold for an incredible $6.4 million (approximately £4.74 million / 8.455 million), with a single photograph smashing the auction house record at $988,000. 

"The Grand Tetons and the Snake River, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming" (pictured below) was one of the star lots in the auction, and carried an estimate of $400,000-$600,000. Its ultimate sale price of almost a million dollars set a new Sotheby's record for an Adams print.

• Read more: 50 best photographers ever (opens in new tab)

The entire collection, entitled "A Grand Vision: The David H. Arrington Collection of Ansel Adams Masterworks", had an estimated value of around $4 million, so it smashed predictions even with 8 of the 123 prints going unsold. 

Ansel Adams, Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico - sold for $685,500 (Image credit: Sothebys)
(opens in new tab)

Ansel Adams, Half Dome, Merced River, Winter, Yosemite Valley – sold for $685,500   (Image credit: Sothebys)
(opens in new tab)

Ansel Adams, Yosemite Valley From Inspiration Point, Winter, Yosemite National Park – sold for $163,800   (Image credit: Sothebys)
(opens in new tab)

ORIGINAL STORY (07 Dec): A collection of rare photographs by Ansel Adams are going up for auction in New York next week, with an estimated value of over $4 million. The black-and-white prints are all taken by who is arguably the best-known landscape photographer who ever lived. The prints, many of which are printed by Adams himself, are split into some 121 lots, and will go under the hammer at Sothebys, New York, on 14 December.

A star lot in the auction is a very early print of Ansel Adams' "Moonrise", which he shot in November 1941 - which shows a cemetery caught by the setting sun, with the moon. The 9x12inch print is being sold with an estimate of $700,000 - $1 million.

Ansel Adams "The Grand Tetons and the Snake River, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming" was one of the star lots in the auction, with an estimated value of $400,000-$600,000. It sold for a record-setting $988,000. (Image credit: Getty Images)
(opens in new tab)

All of the works in the sale are part of a collection that has been put together by Texas oil baron David H. Arrington over the last 20 years – since Adams' death in 1984. Arrington will still own over 500 Adams prints after the sale, we are told.

Born in 1902, Ansel Adams is best known for his images of the American National Parks, and of Yosemite in particular. Some of the other high-priced prints in the sale are his famous mural-sized prints. His picture of The Tetons and The Snake River, for instance, measures some 38x51 inches - and has an estimate of $400,000-$600,000.

You can see all the lots, and register to bid, at the online catalogue (opens in new tab).  

Read more:

How Ansel Adams changed photography forever (opens in new tab)
The best coffee table books on photography (opens in new tab)
100 great quotes from great photographers (opens in new tab)

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Chris George
Chris George

Chris George has worked on Digital Camera World since its launch in 2017. He has been writing about photography, mobile phones, video making and technology for over 30 years – and has edited numerous magazines including PhotoPlus, N-Photo, Digital Camera, Video Camera, and Professional Photography. 


His first serious camera was the iconic Olympus OM10, with which he won the title of Young Photographer of the Year - long before the advent of autofocus and memory cards. Today he uses a Nikon D800, a Fujifilm X-T1, a Sony A7, and his iPhone 11 Pro.


He has written about technology for countless publications and websites including The Sunday Times Magazine, The Daily Telegraph, Dorling Kindersley, What Cellphone, T3 and Techradar.