Phantom, a large landscape photograph by Las Vegas photographer Peter Lik, was sold in December to an unnamed private buyer — or so Lik says, for there is no way to verify the sale — for $6.5 million, which would be the highest sum ever paid for a photograph. It shows a beam of sunlight peeking into Arizona’s Antelope Canyon.
You can go see Lik’s photo yourself — today.
Because of the oddities of U.S. tax law, Phantom, along with two other works by Lik, is now on display at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art in Eugene. The JSMA is a regular venue for rich art collectors wanting to enjoy tax breaks on their art purchases by putting them — almost always anonymously — on display in a public art museum.
I learned of this by reading Eugene photographer Blake Andrews’ excellent photo blog B, which has a more thorough explanation of the tax law and its effect on art museums.
Lik is a highly commercial photographer who might be best understood as the Thomas Kinkade of photography. Read more about Lik and his keen marketing skills in this February profile in the New York Times.
The other two Lik photos on display at the museum are Eternal Moods and Illusion. Exhibiting them at a university art museum, of course, increases their value and fills out Lik’s resume.
Lik is hardly the only photographer to have explored Antelope Canyon. The image below is one of hundreds you can find online, it’s from a photo studio in Fort Collins, Colorado, called Chris Miller Photography Studio. You can buy a 24-by-36- inch print of Antelope Canyon there for less than $130.