The Quick 10: The 10 Most Expensive Photographs Ever

You know the photo of Einstein with his tongue sticking out - we use it all of the time here at the _floss. One of the originals was sold at auction last month for a shocking sum of money, which made me wonder... what are some other insanely expensive photos that have sold at auction? And in the interest of full disclosure, Einstein's doesn't even rank in the top ten. But since he's our mascot, I thought it was appropriate to throw him in the mix.


1. Arthur Sasse, Albert Einstein's tongue photo, $74,324. In 1951, Einstein was celebrating his 72nd birthday at Princeton University. It's a lighthearted gesture, but Einstein, of course, had a deeper meaning behind it. This particular photo is signed by the genius, and he even explains the meaning behind the gesture. In German, he wrote, "This gesture you will like, because it is aimed at all of humanity. A civilian can afford to do what no diplomat would dare. Your loyal and grateful listener, A. Einstein." It was for news anchor Howard K. Smith.


2. Andreas Gursky, 99 Cent II Diptychon, $3,346,456. Yep - this two-part photo of shelves at a grocery store is the most expensive photo sold to date. Kind of inspires you to head out to your own neighborhood market and start clicking away, doesn't it?

3. Edward Steichen, The Pond-Moonlight, $2.9 million.
In sharp contrast to Gursky's modern-day depiction, Steichen's 1904 snap shows a forest and a pond in Mamaroneck, New York. There are only three known copies of the early color photograph known to exist.

4. Edward Weston, Nude, $1,609,000.

This 1925 nude - which looks almost like a stark landscape - was the subject of a heated bidding war at Sotheby's last April. When the dust finally settled, the winner was Peter MacGill of the Pace-MacGill Gallery. It is the most a piece by Weston has ever sold for.


5. Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O'Keeffe (Hands), $1,472,000 and Georgia O'Keeffe Nude, $1,360,000.
Stieglitz holds two of the top ten spots, but since I cheated you out of one by sticking Einstein in there, we'll just count this as one spot. Stieglitz, as some of you probably know, was married to O'Keeffe. But when he took the 1919 nude photo, he was married. In fact, his wife walked in on one of their nude photo sessions (which took place in their apartment), and her suspicions of his affair were confirmed by Stieglitz - some historians believe he purposely arranged for her to walk in on the nude sessions so he had an easy way our of their marriage.

6. Richard Prince, Untitled (Cowboy), $1,248,000.
This was quite controversial, because the photograph actually violated copyright laws. A chunk of Prince's portfolio comes from "rephotographing" existing works. He first started doing it in 1977, when he rephotographed four pictures from the New York Times, and continued doing it through the '80s. Untitled (Cowboy) is one of those pieces; it was taken from an ad for Marlboro cigarettes.


7. Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey, 113. Athènes. 1842. T.[emple] de J.[upiter] Olympien. Pris de l'Est., $922,488.
This dagguerotype is the earliest image of the Athenian Temple of Zeus. At the time of its 2003 sale, it was the most expensive photograph ever sold.

8. Gustave Le Gray, The Great Wave, Sete, $838,000.
Le Gray found it difficult to get the exposure just right for photographs that had both sea and sky in one frame - if the sky was just right, the water was wrong, and if the water looked good, the sky was off. He solved the problem by printing two negatives on one sheet, then exposing one for the sea and one for the sky.

9. Robert Mapplethorpe, Andy Warhol, $643,200.
You might know this one, even if you're not a huge art lover. The series features Warhol wearing a black turtleneck on a black background, making his platinum hair stand out starkly by comparison.


10. Ansel Adams, Moonrise, Hernandez,, $609,600.
You knew Ansel Adams had to be on the list somewhere, right? The story goes that Adams had a particularly difficult day shooting where none of his images seemed to be turning out the way he wanted. He was headed back to Santa Fe when he happened upon this shot in his car; he immediately pulled over to the side of the road and pulled out equipment in a hurry because the light was fading fast. He had just barely gotten the picture when the light that illuminated the crosses moved on. His efforts obviously paid off to the tune of more than half a million dollars.

5 Subtle Cues That Can Tell You About Your Date's Financial Personality

Being financially compatible with your partner is important, especially as a relationship grows. Fortunately, there are ways you can learn about your partner’s financial personality in a relationship’s early stages without seeing their bank statement or sitting them down for “the money talk.”

Are they a spender or a saver? Are they cautious with money? These habits can be learned through basic observations or casual questions that don’t feel intrusive. Here are some subtle things that can tell you about your date’s financial personality.


Casual conversations about finance-related topics can be very revealing. Does your date know if their employer matches their 401(k) plan contributions? Do you find their answers to any financial questions a bit vague—even the straightforward ones like “What are the rewards like on your credit card?” This could mean that your partner is a little fuzzy on some of the details of their financial situation.

As your connection grows, money talks are only natural. If your date expresses uncertainty about their monthly budget, it may be an indicator that they are still working on the best way to manage their finances or don’t keep close tabs on their spending habits.


If you notice your partner is always watching business news channels, thumbing through newspapers, or checking share prices on their phone, they are clearly keeping abreast of what’s going on in the financial world. Ideally, this would lead to a well-informed financial personality that gives way to smart investments and overall monetary responsibility.

If you see that your date has an interest in national and global finances, ask them questions about what they’ve learned. The answers will tell you what type of financial mindset to expect from you partner moving forward. You might also learn something new about the world of finance and business!


You may be able to learn a lot about someone’s financial personality just by asking what they usually do for dinner. If your date dines out a lot, it could be an indication that they are willing to spend money on experiences. On the other hand, if they’re eating most of their meals at home or prepping meals for the entire week to cut their food budget, they might be more of a saver.


Money is a source of stress for most people, so it’s important to observe if financial anxiety plays a prominent role in your date’s day-to-day life. There are a number of common financial worries we all share—rising insurance rates, unexpected car repairs, rent increases—but there are also more specific and individualized concerns. Listen to how your date talks about money and pick up on whether their stress is grounded in worries we all have or if they have a more specific reason for concern.

In both instances, it’s important to be supportive and helpful where you can. If your partner is feeling nervous about money, they’ll likely be much more cautious about what they’re spending, which can be a good thing. But it can also stop them from making necessary purchases or looking into investments that might actually benefit them in the future. As a partner, you can help out by minimizing their expenses for things like nights out and gifts in favor of less expensive outings or homemade gifts to leave more of their budget available for necessities.


Does your date actually look at how much they’re spending before handing their credit card to the waiter or bartender at the end of the night? It’s a subtle sign, but someone who looks over a bill is likely much more observant about what they spend than someone who just blindly hands cards or cash over once they get the tab.

Knowing what you spend every month—even on smaller purchases like drinks or dinner—is key when you’re staying on a budget. It’s that awareness that allows people to adjust their monthly budget and calculate what their new balance will be once the waiter hands over the check. Someone who knows exactly what they’re spending on the small purchases is probably keeping a close eye on the bigger picture as well.


While these subtle cues can be helpful signposts when you’re trying to get an idea of your date’s financial personality, none are perfect indicators that will be accurate every time. Our financial personalities are rarely cut and dry—most of us probably display some behaviors that would paint us as savers while also showing habits that exclaim “spender!” By relying too heavily on any one indicator, we might not get an accurate impression of our date.

Instead, as you get to know a new partner, the best way to learn about their financial personality is by having a straightforward and honest talk with them. You’ll learn more by listening and asking questions than you ever could by observing small behaviors.

Whatever your financial personality is, it pays to keep an eye on your credit score. Discover offers a Free Credit Scorecard, and checking it won't impact your score. It's totally free, even if you aren't a Discover customer. Check yours in seconds. Terms apply. Visit Discover to learn more.

Where Do Birds Get Their Songs?

Birds display some of the most impressive vocal abilities in the animal kingdom. They can be heard across great distances, mimic human speech, and even sing using distinct dialects and syntax. The most complex songs take some practice to learn, but as TED-Ed explains, the urge to sing is woven into songbirds' DNA.

Like humans, baby birds learn to communicate from their parents. Adult zebra finches will even speak in the equivalent of "baby talk" when teaching chicks their songs. After hearing the same expressions repeated so many times and trying them out firsthand, the offspring are able to use the same songs as adults.

But nurture isn't the only factor driving this behavior. Even when they grow up without any parents teaching them how to vocalize, birds will start singing on their own. These innate songs are less refined than the ones that are taught, but when they're passed down through multiple generations and shaped over time, they start to sound similar to the learned songs sung by other members of their species.

This suggests that the drive to sing as well as the specific structures of the songs themselves have been ingrained in the animals' genetic code by evolution. You can watch the full story from TED-Ed below, then head over here for a sample of the diverse songs produced by birds.

[h/t TED-Ed]


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