Rhine II, record setting image sold at $4.3 Mil, makes an OK desktop wallpaper


You may have heard of this photograph taken in 1999 by Andreas Gursky, which sold at Christie’s in New York at auction for a record setting $4.3 Million on Nov 8 2011.

The buyer was not disclosed, and there is lots of speculation in the media as to why the three meter chromogenic color print face-mounted to acrylic glass was sold for so much: some mention that it is one of six, four of which are in major museums, others point out to it’s simplicity and abstract nature; yet others point to it being a contemporary twist on the German romantic landscape genre. At Freewaregenius, we speculate that the zillionaire who bought it may have considered that the image makes an adequate desktop wallpaper; not the best, perhaps, but perfectly passable 😉 (you can find a download link to a high-res version below).

Rhein2 by Andreas Gursky

Default_800x600The way we seen it, the green and gray motif might just be a tongue-in-cheek homage to “Bliss”, that most famous of Windows wallpaper images (pictured to the right). We can see that the green hills and optimistic blue skyline with bursts of cloud are now replaced by a general greyness more in tune with the mood of the new though less optimistic century. One point of similarity is that both pictures fetched a lot of money, apparently (for more on Bliss see here)

In true Freewaregenius fashion, here is a list of PROS and CONS to this as a desktop background.


  • A good conversation starter in your cubicle at work: “hey, what’s that wallpaper image you have?”, “that’s Rhine II by Andreas Gursky, it sold at 4.3$ Mil in auction, the most expensive photograph ever”; “seriously?”; “yes”; “wow, you are so cultured and informed!”; “it’s because I read freewaregenius dot com”’; “free what?!”; etc.
  • Not much going on: not a lot of action, simple abstract lines do not consume too much mental energy, and do not compete with your icons.


  • Not very exciting: there are much better artsy wallpaper images around. As a wallpaper, it is kind of second rate I’m afraid 😉

For more exciting wallpaper images check out my series of post entitled “10 wallpaper selections”; here’s a link to part one and a link to part two.

Download a high res version of Rhine II here (courtesy of the Washington Examiner). The image provided there seems like it need a bit of color correcting, but who am I to judge?