Work of the Week: Helmut Newton’s ‘Leaving Las Vegas’

The fashion photographer's works accounted for six of the top 10 lots at Phillips's recent photographs sale in London.

Helmut Newton, Leaving Las Vegas (1998). © Helmut Newton Foundation / Trunk Archive. Courtesy of Phillips.

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Helmut Newton once said he loved photographing nights, cities, and striking individuals. That’s exactly what was on view at Phillips London, where 50 of the prolific and influential fashion photographer’s prints from the collection of Simon de Pury went under the hammer in a dedicated sale on May 16.

Although best known for his voyeuristic black-and-white images of fashion models, celebrities, and other subjects (including his wife, June), Newton’s personal passion was shooting landscapes. His 1998 work, Leaving Las Vegas, was among a handful of rare, large-format landscape photos that were included in this sale. The image was featured in de Pury & Luxembourg’s “Sex and Landscapes” exhibition in Zurich in 2001; only one other print of this scale and subject by the photographer has come to auction before. Estimated to fetch between £40,000 and £60,000, the first-edition print of just three sold for £88,900 ($112,645).

a black and white photo of a woman on a saddle that is resting on the back of a chair.

Helmut Newton, Saddle II, Paris (1976). © Helmut Newton Foundation / Trunk Archive. Courtesy of Phillips.

Newton’s works accounted for six of the top 10 lots at the auction house’s photographs sale, which coincided with the Photo London fair. Among these were some of the iconic images that people think of when they think of Newton, who was nicknamed the “King of Kink” for his ground-breaking fashion shoots that edged toward the erotic.

That includes Saddle II (1976), which depicts a model atop a horse saddle in a hotel room, from a Hermès shoot he did for Vogue Homme that also included the model wearing the saddle. De Pury’s print, edition three of 10, sold for $93,335. Celia, Miami (1991), one of the photographer’s large nudes, sold for $136,783, more than three times its high estimate.

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