A nude, full-frontal photograph of Madonna sold at auction for $37,500 yesterday in New York, the AP reports. The black-and-white photo, which shows a 20-year-old Madonna Louise Ciccone, as she was known then, was taken by photographer Liz Friedlander and features in a 1985 issue of Playboy. The photograph instantly became the highest-priced photo of the Material Girl to ever sell at auction, beating out the top bid of $15,000 for the Herb Ritts-shot cover of True Blue. It’s not the hefty fee a U.S. collector shelled out for Jimi Hendrix’s 1965 Strat or the nearly million bucks a U.K. bidder paid for the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band bass drum cover, but it’s more than Bob Dylan’s letter to Jerry Garcia fetched. (Check out our full report on Rock’s Rarest Artifacts for more.)
The photo was taken in 1979, roughly three years before Madonna’s debut single “Everybody” was released. As the story goes, Madonna responded to a classified ad seeking a nude model. In all, six photos from that shoot were sold to Playboy. According to Friedlander, Madonna “seemed very confident, a street-wise girl. She told me she was putting a band together but half the kids that age are doing that. She was a good professional model.” (Looking for more Madge photos? The non-nude kind? Check out our Sticky & Sweet Tour gallery or our massive Madonna gallery. Also see: Getting Naked – Stars Show Skin on RS Covers.)
As Madonna has already proven to be recession-proof, claiming the title of top moneymaker of 2008, it comes as no surprise that the photo sold for more than double its expected sale price. Christie’s Auction House estimated a $15,000 sale, but an unnamed Madonna-loving European buyer purchased the photo for $37,500. Not bad, especially Madonna is rumored only to have gotten $25 for the nude photo shoot. Another Madonna photograph from the auction, this time by Helmut Newton and also from Playboy, had a top bid of $18,750, meaning yesterday was a good day to be a Madonna photograph.