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Who’s Afraid of Helmut Newton?

Who's afraid of Helmut Newton? I am. More specifically, I'm afraid that I'll have to lift or move our signed limited edition copy of Newton's Sumo one more time. It weighs 66 pounds, and if I drop it on my foot I'll be in a cast for weeks.

So heavy and unwieldy that it shipped with a custom folding stand, Sumo is the kind of art object you either love, or hate. According to Taschen, the book's publisher, it was the most expensive book production of the 20th century.

Having escaped Germany in 1938, Helmut Newton forged a career in fashion photography that spanned over 30 years. (You can check out his biography on Vogue.com.) He was killed in 2004 when his car crashed into a wall of the famous Chateau Marmont in Beverly Hills, and his ashes are buried in Berlin, next to Marlene Dietrich.

As everyone knows, you can never be too thin or too rich. Though we have only one copy of the signed limited edition of Sumo, Powell's does stock the trade edition. It weighs in at a slim 15.7 pounds.

And many thanks to Matthew, Gary, and Michael Powell for helping me wrestle with the 66-pound copy of Sumo.

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Kirsten Berg has worked as a used book buyer for Powell's for more than 10 years. She is experienced with technical and general reading material, and enjoys working with out-of-print and rare material the most.

Books mentioned in this post

  1. Sumo New Hardcover $20250.95
  2. Helmut Newton: Sumo Used Hardcover $150.00

One Response to "Who’s Afraid of Helmut Newton?"

    Aziz Inan July 9th, 2010 at 10:39 pm

    Hi Kirsten:

    Very interesting indeed, thanks for bringing this unique art book to our attention...A couple of thoughts:

    1. I weigh about 186 pounds, so this 66 pound book is 4 pounds more heavier than 1/3 of my weight! :-)
    2. The book is priced at $6500, this means, each pound is worth ~$100! :-)
    3. I am just curious, does Powell's Bookstore provide health insurance for their customers in these special circumstances such as this one if someone accidentally tries to lift this book and as a result they seriously injure their back or something? (Or this could even happen even to someone after they purchase the book and take it home...) :-)

    Thanks again and please keep up the good work,

    Aziz Inan
    University of Portland

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