Manhattan’s “El” train, on the 9th Avenue line, 1941
One of the most haunting photographs ever taken was sold to an anonymous bidder last thursday. The image of a green-eyed 12-year-old Afghan refugee girl with an orange-red scarf with holes in it covers her head, staring intently into the camera lens, taken in 1984 in Pakistan by National Geographic photographer Steve McCurry. The famous picture made the cover of the magazine’s June 1985 issue.
National Geographic sold 232 images from its huge 11 million-plus collection at a New York auction that raised $3.8 million to preserve the magazine’s unparalleled archives. McCurry wrote in a foreword: “From an outpouring of pictures over 20 years, these are the faces I cannot forget. Some stare out of places I don’t want to remember. All of them represent chance connections in a world of resilience.” The picture was sold last Thursday to an anonymous buyer for $147,000.
National Geographic retains rights to publish the picture, copies of which are to be found for a few dollars on the Internet. Look for “Afghan girl.”