Is Peter Lik Phantom The Most Expensive Photo Of All Time?

Is Peter Lik Phantom The Most Expensive Photograph Ever Sold?

Out of the seven reported highest grossing photographs ever sold as of 2019, five of them were sold at auction by Christie's, one by Sotheby's and the most expensive one....anonymously? In December 2014, “Phantom" a monochrome version of a previously released photography print titled "Ghost" by photographer Peter Lik® was thrust into the spotlight by claiming to be the most expensive photograph of all time.

This anonymous art sale was for a reported 6.5 Million dollars, shattering the previous record held by Andreas Gursky's Rhein II after it sold for $4,338,500 via the auction house Christie's in November 2011. The story and skepticism of the sale has been well covered in the press by the New York Times as well as many others on both sides of the sale.

Despite the claims by Peter Lik USA, the lack of evidence of this anonymous sale has lead many to question its validity. In fact, when looking at a list of the top thirty most expensive photographs of all time, Peter Lik's Phantom, as well as his other claimed sales in excess of one million dollars, don't even make the list. Phantom is listed at the bottom, as a side note, as being a disputed sale. Controversy swirls around the sale of this photograph and its anonymous nature. Ultimately, you will need to decide for yourself if this sale was authentic.

Man Ray's "Le Violin d'Ingres" Photograph Sells For 12.4 Million Dollars

The Phantom sale has always been disputed and swirled with controversy but one thing is for sure, it's not the most expensive photograph ever sold anymore!

On May 15th, 2022, this disputed record was smashed when Man Ray's famed "Le Violon d'Ingres" made history Saturday when it became the most expensive photograph ever to sell at auction. The black and white image, taken in 1924 by the American surrealist artist, transforms a woman's naked body into a violin by overlaying the picture of her back with f-holes. The original print of the masterpiece, widely considered to be Man Ray's most famous work, sold for $12.4 million, smashing sale estimates. Prior to the sale, it was expected to fetch between $5-7 million, the highest estimate for a single photograph in auction history, according to Christie's, which sold the work.

Where Was Phantom Photographed?

Phantom was captured in upper Antelope Canyon in Page, Arizona. Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon in the American Southwest, on Navajo land east of Page, Arizona. It includes two separate, scenic slot canyon sections, referred to as Upper Antelope Canyon (or The Crack), and Lower Antelope Canyon (or The Corkscrew). Upper Antelope Canyon is called Tsé bighánílíní, 'the place where water runs through rocks' by the Navajo. It is the most frequently visited by tourists because its entrance and entire length are at ground level, requiring no climbing; and because beams of direct sunlight radiating down from openings at the top of the canyon are much more common.

Peter Lik's black and white photograph of upper Antelope Canyon in Arizona shows a shaft of light and falling sand inside the underground slot canyon. An iconic place where many photographers and tourists visit and one I have photographed myself many times. Beams occur most often in summer, as they require the sun to be high in the sky. Winter colors are more muted. Light beams start to peek into the canyon March 20 and disappear by October 7.

The Vortex

The desert sun shines down through an iridescent portal in one of Antelope Canyon’s famous slot canyons. Over the eons, the solid rock has begun to take on the shape of the wild rivers which have carved their way through it. Fine Art Limited Edition of 50.

How Was Antelope Canyon Formed?

Antelope Canyon was formed by the erosion of Navajo Sandstone due to flash flooding and other sub-aerial processes. Rainwater, especially during monsoon season, runs into the extensive basin above the slot canyon sections, picking up speed and sand as it rushes into the narrow passageways. Over time the passageways eroded away, deepening the corridors and smoothing hard edges to form characteristic "flowing" shapes.

Heaven's Gate | Japanese Maple Tree Photograph for Sale by Aaron Reed

Heavens Gate, a Fine Art Photograph with a limited edition print run of 100 by photographer Aaron Reed.

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Carved by the powers of natural, this beautiful work in stone can be found in Antelope Canyon in the state of Arizona. Fine Art Limited Edition of 50.

Who Is Peter Lik®?

Peter Lik (born 26 December 1959) is a photographer from Australia, best known for his nature and panoramic landscape images. He hosted From the Edge with Peter Lik, which aired for one season on The Weather Channel. He sells his work through high end photography galleries located in Las Vegas and around the United States in high traffic tourist locations.

Out To Sea Pano

Transform your space with Aaron Reed's luxury fine art photography print, Out To Sea, from his Panoramic Wall Art collection.

Peter Lik For Sale? Lik Fine Art Galleries

  • Lik Fine Art Gallery Aspen - Colorado
  • Lik Fine Art Gallery Dallas - Texas
  • Lik Fine Art Gallery Hamptons - West Hampton, New York
  • Lik Fine Art Gallery Houston - Texas
  • Lik Fine Art Gallery Key West - Florida
Lik Fine Art Gallery - Lahaina, Maui (indefinitely closed)

On August 8th, 2023 and into August 9th, a devastating wildfire ripped across Maui and was especially damaging in the historic town of Lahaina. The Peter Lik Fine Art Gallery, along with 18 eighteen other photography and art galleries in Lahaina were destroyed by this apocalyptic event.

  • Lik Fine Art Gallery La Jolla - California
  • Lik Fine Art Galleries Las Vegas - Nevada (Caesar's Palace & Forum Shops, Mandalay Bay, The Venetian)
  • Lik Fine Art Gallery Miami - Florida
  • Lik Fine Art Galleries New York City - New York (Madison Avenue, SoHo)
The Broken Hearted

Waves of warped stone cradle the path through a narrow slot canyon outside Page, Arizona like statues in a sunken catacomb. Glowing pillars of amber and white show the way to the welcoming warmth of the sunshine beyond. Fine Art Limited Edition of 100.

So What Makes Phantom Special?

Antelope Canyon is visited by millions of people each year including countless nature and landscape photographers like myself. What makes Phantom so special? Did Peter Lik capture a moment in time that no one else has? The main attraction of the upper Antelope Canyon tour comes in the early afternoon when the sun is high in the sky above the canyon. The light falling through a small hole in the roof of the canyon is illuminated by the tour guide throwing a shovel full of sand, allowing it to fall where the light penetrates the earth. This beautiful scene plays out every day for hundreds of photographers and sightseers alike. I visited and photographed the canyon myself in 2015, capturing the photograph below which I have titled ShapeShifter.


Shapeshifter, a limited edition of 100 by artist Aaron Reed.

In Conclusion: Photography Is Collectable Art!

What is based in fact without question is that photography does have its place in the collectable art world. As artists, it is our collectors themselves who determine value and we price our work accordingly. As a widely collected artist myself, although nowhere near the realm of these artworks here in terms of cost, I would argue that I provide a much greater value for my customers.

The Window
Transform your space with Aaron Reed's luxury fine art photography print, The Window, from his Panoramic Wall Art collection. Order yours today! Fine Art Limited Edition of 100

Waves of silken stone are frozen in motion in a deep crevasse in Antelope Canyon, Utah. The brilliance of the sun, refracted on the winding surfaces of the rock, evolves from fiery orange to shadowy blue as it travels down the cracks. Fine Art Limited Edition of 50.

A colonnade of twisting live oaks form an emerald arcade over a quiet promenade in New York’s Central Park. Rows of street...
A tangled web of skeletal branches lace together the ashen trunks of a grove of aspen near Leavenworth, Washington. Unfazed as...