Why Invest in Helmut Newton?

Helmut Newton (1920-2004) was a prolific fashion photographer, widely recognised as one of the most collectable and prominent photographers ever to hold a camera. Dubbed the 'King of Kink', his erotically charged imagery was provocative as it was masterful in its compositional and narrative direction.

Over the past decade, recognition and appreciation of his oeuvre has reached high peaks amongst collectors and art experts alike, but it is in recent years that prices have dramatically skyrocketed, and this trend is likely to continue.


Helmut Newton was born Helmut Neustädter in Berlin on October 31. From early age, Newton developed a obsession with photography, purchasing his very first camera aged 12. Four years later, he would take an apprenticeship with renowned German photographer, Yva.

In 1938, no longer able to ignore the change of political climate in Germany following the seizure of his father's factory, and Helmut's brief internment in a concentration camp on Kristallnacht, the family emigrated to South America.

Helmut was given a train ticket to Trieste from where he was meant to have gone by boat to China. Instead, he got off in Singapore where he joined the Strait Times as a local photographer, but he only managed to last two weeks. In 1904 he left for Australia, finding work in the Australian Army.


Newton’s style developed a very distinct taste for the erotic, long legs, and couture photography pushing the envelope of boldness for the time.

His technical ability and sense of style gained him work as a fashion photographer for Harper’s Bazaar, French Vogue, Playboy, and numerous other iconic publications.

Shooting on the Street

Newton took fashion photography out of the studio and into the vitality of the street, bringing to his work the immediacy and dynamism of the paparazzi. "A woman does not live in front of a white paper" he said, in reference to the studio, "she lives on the street, in a motor car, in a hotel room." By bringing a journalistic element into his photography, he infused his photographs with human interest.


Newton expressed through photography the idea that women's sexuality could give them power. The women he portrays are independent, and in command.

He encourages the viewer to question the sexual objectification of women by forcing them to confront their own voyeuristic gaze.


Newton's admiration for the cinema, particularly Film Noir, is evident in his preference for black and white film, seductive women, and mysterious narrative elements. He utilises elaborate sets, highly posed scenes, and of course, glamorous attire, but at the heart of the photographs, these are always in service of conveying human emotion.


Helmut Newton straddled the gap between art and commerce, always managing to surprise and polarize his audience.

his unusual visual ideas resulted in a body of photographs that was not only exceptionally recognisable and successful, but also reached millions of viewers.

During his 25-year collaboration with Paris Vogue, Newton firmly established his international reputation and defined his signature style: highly stylised and erotically charged black-and-white photographs that embraced elements of glamour, fashion, erotica, portraiture and documentary, while flirting with provocative themes such as voyeurism.

Time magazine dubbed him ‘The King of Kink’. In the early 1970s Newton started working for Playboy — a collaboration that would last for around 30 years. Among his most famous sitters for the magazine was Charlotte Rampling. In 1973 Newton photographed the actress, who would later become his muse, nude on a dining table in Arles, a glass of wine in hand.

Over his prolific career, Newton worked extensively for American, Italian, German and French Vogue, shooting 64 covers for the latter, as well as for Marie Claire, Elle and Queen, among others.

He photographed a wealth of celebrities, as well as politicians such as Margaret Thatcher and Jean-Marie Le Pen.

How much does an artwork form Helmut Newton cost?

The most expensive piece of art by Helmut Newton was sold at 4 Apr 2019 by the auction house Phillips for US$1,820,000

'from strength to strength'

The market for Helmut Newton has gone from strength to strength’, says Hull. ‘Of his top 10 sales at auction, eight have been made in the past five years.’ The large format of the ‘The Big Nudes’ makes it one of his most highly sought-after series.

Newton produced little colour work, often adding a blue light to avoid warm tones. His preference was to produce colour unconsciously, without knowing there was colour film in the camera. ‘These prints are exceptionally rare at auction and command high prices when they do come to market,’ states Hull.

helmut newton's auction results

Big Nude III, Paris, 1980 (1982)

Size: 231.1cm x 106.3 cm


PRICE $345,000 AUD

LOCATION Christie's London Auction House

DATE May 31, 2007