Andreas Gursky (b. 1955) is a German fine art photographer that specializes in architecture and urban landscape photography. Gursky's large format photographic prints are among the most expensive photographs ever sold at public auctions. Three of Gursky's fine art prints rank in the top ten most valuable photos ever sold as of 2019. Rhein II sold for $4.3 million dollars in 2011 and is considered by many to be the most expensive photo ever sold according to according to media sources including Wikipedia, The Telegraph and NPR.
There are obviously many talented photographers currently working today so why does Andreas Gursky have three of the top ten most expensive photos ever sold? The art industry is a peculiar one in that some artwork is deemed to be an "investment". Artists that have institutional museum support tend to fetch the highest prices at art auctions. Wealthy art collectors are often looking to make headline news for bragging rights. While I'm sure that some actually do like the artwork that they splurge on, I would argue that there is lot better photography out there in this world that doesn't sell for nearly as much money. Secondary art value is largely determined by how much a piece sells for at public auctions. So really all you need is an extremely wealthy patron or two willing to pay large sums of money to establish value.
What does investment value have to do with quality artwork? Nothing necessarily. Some people buy artwork because they like to invest their money into alternative assets such as artwork. Other people buy artwork because it resonates with them emotionally. I would categorize myself in the latter category. While it would be nice to command large sums of money for my artwork, that's not the audience I seek out. Art consultants, doctors and retirees acquire my fine art photography prints because they like the way my artwork looks and it adds some emotional value to their lives. What I'm saying here might fly in the face of what an art salesperson might say but I would discourage you from buying my artwork if you think you might recoup some investment value later on. My photography is probably worthless on the aftermarket. However, if you enjoy my artwork and can envision keeping it for many years then I would love to help you acquire my artwork.