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Ron Galella (American, b.1931)


Birth Place: New York, NY USA


Who is photographer Ron Galella?

Ron Galello is an American photographer who is often called the Godfather of the paparazzi due to his unique celebrity photography. This type of photojournalism has at times put him at odds with his subjects (including Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Marlon Brando) but has also garnered him praise from the high art and commercial art communities. It is said that Galella has taken over three million photographs of public figures throughout the course of his career.

Galella’s photographs have been in almost every notable magazine of the 20th century including Vogue, People, Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, Harper’s Bazaar, the New York Times, and Life. He’s the subject of the Leon Gast documentary Smash His Camera (2010) and won numerous photography awards. His pieces have been shown in exhibitions at several galleries and museums including the Tate Modern in London, the Museum of Modern Art (both in San Francisco and New York), and the Helmut Newton Foundation Museum of Photography. Ron Galella is in many ways a beautiful and compelling contradiction -- the critically celebrated celebrity paparazzi photographer.

What kind of art does Ron Galella make?

Ron Galella is a photographer whose subjects are almost always celebrities and almost always shot candidly and in public. His work has been celebrated by critics and fans alike. His techniques have sometimes led to an uneasy relationship with his subjects. He has been punched by Marlon Brando (where he lost five teeth), been beaten by Richard Burton’s security guards, and been spit on by Sean Penn. That said, he also had several celebrity fans. Andy Warhol famously praised his work sayings, “My idea of a good picture is one that’s in focus and of a famous person doing something unfamous... That’s why my favorite photographer is Ron Galella.”

How did photographer Ron Galella get started?

Ron Galella was born in the Bronx in 1931. The son of Italian immigrants, Galella won a two-year scholarship to attend the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. While this could have been a turning point, Galella turned down the school because he believed himself to be not talented enough at mathematics to succeed at the prestigious institution. Galella then served as a US Air Force photographer during the Korean War. This sparked a creative renaissance in the young photographer. He returned to the US and moved to California where he attended the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles. He received his degree in photojournalism in 1958. Galella’s hobby was taking pictures of stars at film premieres, after selling to national publications like Photoplay and the National Enquirer, Galella was able to build his name and make it a career. It was a smart move -- Galella would continue this work for over fifty years.

How much are Ron Galella photographs worth?

Ron Galella photographs can sell for anywhere between $900 to close to $10,000 for a print. The most ever paid for a Ron Gallela photograph at a Heritage Auction is $7,500 for the piece Windblown Jackie (1971) which sold on October 11th, 2017. This is one of Galella’s most famous photos of his favorite subject, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Galella’s work usually hovers around the $2,000 mark, making this print an exquisite and rare find. In fact, it had already been sold once earlier by us for $1,900 on May 2nd, 2011.

Where to buy Ron Galella photographs for sale?

See the works for sale below. Why buy from Heritage? Art buyers feel confident because our experts know the market and put careful valuations on the artwork for sale. We make the bidding process easier to help you expand your art collection.

How to value Ron Galella photographs?

The best way to value art is to compare past auction prices for similar works. View past sale prices below. When you’re ready to sell, contact Heritage Auctions to request an auction estimate of the likely selling price at auction. If you need a formal written appraisal for estate planning or insurance, please contact our Appraisal Services Department.

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