Auction house selling photographer’s Marilyn Monroe negatives and copyright to them


posted Friday, July 12, 2013 at 2:54 PM EST


We've heard of classic photos being auctioned off -- such as this signed Alfred Eisenstaedt print of the famous "Kiss in Times Square" photo -- but this is the first time we've heard of the copyright to the images being sold as well. That's what's happening with 3,700 unpublished color and black-and-white negatives shot by fashion and celebrity photographer Milton H. Greene of Marilyn Monroe, which go on sale (with the copyrights) on July 27th at Profiles in History in Los Angeles and online.

"It's nearly unheard of in a public venue, particularly for an entire archive," Christopher Belport, a photography consultant for Profiles in History, told the Associated Press.

Greene, who passed away in 1985, first photographed Monroe for Look magazine, when he was 26 years old. Greene's portrait of Monroe (above right) was captured in 1955.

Along with the Monroe negatives/copyright, the auction house is also selling 75,000 of Greene's other celebrity negatives and slides, and the copyrights to them, including shots of Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Ava Gardner and Marlene Dietrich.

Green's material at the auction has been split into 268 lots and once a lot is purchased, the owner can makes prints, sell them, and license the images since he or she will also own the copyright.

Since adding in the copyright is unusual for a photography auction, estimates on how much the material will fetch is wide-ranging, from $1,000 to $15,000 per lot, according to the AP. No one, however, knows for sure until the auction takes place.

"The sudden opportunity to acquire a large number of camera artifacts from a historically significant photographer will likely amplify the value ... and provide fuller context to those that are sold in the future in auction or privately," Belport said.

(Via Associated Press)