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This Photo of a Potato Sold for a Million Dollars

That story may make the blood of today’s music photographers boil across the land, but there’s no denying that “Potato #345 (2010)” is a good-looking potato. And though Abosch is best-known for his photos, he is also a power connector in Silicon Valley...
January 25, 2016, 11:00pm

The economics of the art market are a mystery for the layperson, and, perhaps, a source of rage and disbelief. What makes a Jackson Pollock splatter worth $140 million, more than all but the one-tenth percent will make in a lifetime, only the billionaire buyers know. So when it comes to this five-foot by five-foot photo of a potato that sold last year for more than a million bucks, most of us will be scratching our heads or considering a career shift to fine art photography.


The potato pic, dubbed "Potato #345 (2010)," is the work of the Irish photographer Kevin Abosch, one of the world's top photographers known for his black backdrop portraits of high flyers in Silicon Valley and celebrities such as Yoko Ono, Steven Spielberg, Johnny Depp, Malala Yousafzai, and Sheryl Sandberg. He is known for his efficiency, taking photos of busy in-demand people in just a few minutes, according to Business Insider.

He sold "Potato #345 (2010)" to a wealthy collector for the non-negotiable price of one million euros last year. (Given the work's name, you have to wonder if he has at least 344 more of the photos ready for printing.) As to how the humble potato earned such a position in the world of fine art, Abosch sees something of the human condition in potatoes.


Abosch's "Potato #345 (2010)"

"Kevin likes potatoes because they, like people, are all different yet immediately identifiable as being essentially of the same species," Abosch's studio told PetaPixel. "He has photographed many potatoes. This one is one of his favorites."

Abosch's portrait commissions run from $150,000 and up to $500,000 if commercial licensing is involved, Business Insider reports, making a photo of a potato worth between two and seven times as much as a photo of a titan of industry.

"Potato #345 (2010)" was hanging on Abosch's own wall until it sold. The million-euro price tag was the highest ever for one of his non-commissioned works.


"It's not the first time that someone has bought the art right off my wall," Abosch told The Sunday Times. "We had two glasses of wine and he said, "I really like that.'"

"Two more glasses of wine and he said: 'I really want that.' We set the price two weeks later."

Ausich is one of the world's most famous photographers. His breakthrough gig came in the 1990s, when CBS Records was looking for someone to photograph a band. Abosch, having read that one of Hollywood's most famous photographers, Herb Ritts, charged $10,000 a day, put in a bid at $5,000 for the few-hour job. He didn't have a portfolio, but showed them a few of his favorite photos. When they balked at the price and said they could just hire Ritts, Abosch said, "Do you want Herb Ritts? Or do you want me?" They then agreed upon $2,500.

That story may make the blood of today's music photographers boil across the land, but there's no denying that "Potato #345 (2010)" is a good-looking potato. And though Abosch is best-known for his photos, he is also a power connector in Silicon Valley and considers himself an ontologist, concerned first and foremost with identity and existence.

But the real win here has to be for potatoes, which, as of last week, cost around 80 cents per pound (for Russets), according to the USDA. You could have more than a million pounds of Russets, or "Potato #345 (2010)," itself an Irish organic potato. Ah, art and its insights and social criticisms.