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AFP auctions 200 photos and three NFTs

From the cannons of the Franco-Prussian War to Notre-Dame on fire: Agence France-Presse is auctioning off 200 photos from its archives and for the first time in its long history, three NFTs.

The works will go under the hammer at a Parisian gallery next month and the funds will be used to restore and preserve AFP’s photographic collection.

This is the second year the agency has put photos up for auction.

Last year, the sale totalled 297,000 euros ($293,000), including 15,600 euros for its biggest success, a photo of French singer Serge Gainsbourg burning a 500 franc note in 1984.

“This sale plunges us into the poetry of the news photo,” said Marielle Eudes, director of special photo projects at AFP.

Playing with colour, light and framing, these images from AFP’s rich vaults straddle the boundary between news and art, and many hold historical value.

There’s Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse in the studio, the writer Colette looking in the mirror, and Doctor Marcel Petiot, one of France’s most notorious mass murderers, photographed at his trial in 1946.

There’s also sprinter Usain Bolt winning a race as a bolt of lightning flashes in the sky, and Donald Trump supporters storming the Capitol in Washington.

Most of the photos date from before the 1960s, and the oldest is from 1871. Estimates range from 300-400 euros to 800-1,200 euros.

AFP is also putting up for sale three NFTs, digital certificates of ownership for artworks that can be traded online.

These include an image of US politician Bernie Sanders wearing a pair of mittens, which became a social media sensation, and the shot of Gainsbourg burning the banknote.

The auction will take place on November 5 at the Ellia Art Gallery, as well as online at drouot.com.

The images are also included in a book published by Fisheye, “AFP: une epopee photo”.