5. Edward Steichen – The Pond-Moonlight (1904) – $2,928,000 – Febuary 2006.
Pond—Moonlight is a pictorialist photograph by Edward Steichen. The photograph was made in 1904 in Mamaroneck, New York, near the home of his friend, art critic Charles Caffin. The photograph features a forest across a pond, with part of the moon appearing over the horizon in a gap in the trees. The Pond—Moonlight is an early color photograph, predating the first widespread color photography technique (the 1907 autochrome), and was created by manually applying light-sensitive gums.
Only three known versions of the Pond-Moonlight are still in existence and, as a result of the hand-layering of the gums, each is unique. In February 2006, a print of the photograph sold for US $2.9 million, at the time, the highest price ever paid for a photograph at auction. The auction itself is also presented in the part 6 of the BBC documentary “The Genius of Photography”. In addition to the auctioned print, the other two versions are held in museum collections. The extraordinary sale price of the print is, in part, attributable to its one-of-a-kind character and to its rarity.