Industry News

Warhol’s Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera Sold for $13,750

October 12, 2020

By Jacqueline Tobin

A little piece of history was sold off during a public auction of photographs and related memorabilia at Heritage Auctions, for a grand total of $13,750. That’s a giant sum for a Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera, which we hear can be scooped up on Ebay for between $100 to $200—and that’s for one that still works. The difference is, this one belonged to Andy Warhol.

Andy's Warhol's Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera

Polaroid SX-70 cameras were produced from 1972 to 1981 and like those models, the one owned by Warhol is a folding, single lens reflex Land camera, chrome-plated with brown leather panels. The Warhol version has a partially used Flash Bar 10.

Warhol is said to have used the decades-old camera, one of several that he reportedly owned, in the 1970s to take portraits of himself as well as of other celebrities and collectors. He then passed the camera on in the mid-’80s to his close friend John Wilcock, with whom he co-founded Interview Magazine in 1969.

Included in the lot was a letter of authenticity signed by Wilcock himself in 2009, which reads: “I, John Wilcock, confirm that the Polaroid camera (marked XA4291B4P) was a personal property of Andy Warhol. Andy was a dear friend of mine. We worked for many years together and had a good relationship.”

Wilcock passed away in 2018. Another letter, this one from Alexander Bitar History, a leading dealer in historical artifacts, also attested to the authenticity of the camera.

Heritage Auction, in its sales description online, designated the camera as being in “overall very good condition with some signs of wear.” The auction house provided more details to the buyer, claiming that it’s “apparently working but not tested.”

“Warhol was almost never without a camera and his camera of choice was the Polaroid SX-70,” said Nigel Russel, director of photography at Heritage Auctions at the time of the sale. “He used it to take portraits of his friends and document his life. This is an iconic piece of photographic and art history.”