“Phantom,” a haunting black-and-white photo of Arizona’s Antelope Canyon, sold at auction last week for a record $6.5 million, instantly making it the most expensive photograph in the world.
In a statement, photographer Peter Lik said that “The purpose of all my photos is to capture the power of nature and convey it in a way that inspires someone to feel passionate and connected to the image.”
Shutterbug reports that a private collector, whose identity was not disclosed, also purchased two more of Lik’s images, bringing the total sale value to $10 million.
The sale of “Phantom” broke the record for the most expensive photograph in history by more than $2 million. The previous recordholder, Andreas Gursky’s “Rhein II,” sold for $4.3 million in 2011.
Antelope Canyon is an oft-photographed area within the Lake Powell Navajo Tribal Park in northern Arizona. Due to usage restrictions, visitors are required to join a guided tour to explore the region’s unique slot canyons.
The sale of “Phantom” has drawn some criticism in the art world, however, with some arguing that the photograph is nearly identical to hundreds of other snapshots of Antelope Canyon’s unique stream of light.
“Lik’s photograph is of course beautiful in a slick way, but beauty is cheap if you point a camera at a grand phenomenon of nature,” Jonathan Jones wrote in The Guardian, going on to call the image’s black-and-white treatment “nostalgic and affected, an ‘arty’ special effect.”