Magnum sells its archive to Dell

One of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s iconic photographs in the Magnum archives.

Michael Dell, founder of Dell Computer, just bought something big. Along with two other investors he purchased the entire archives of Magnum Photos, over 185,000 prints, for an undisclosed amount. Magnum Photos, founded by photographers Robert Capa and Henri Cartier-Bresson (among others) in 1947, relied for many years on the revenue generated from newspaper and magazine licensing, but as newspaper and magazines declined and the move to digital is more or less complete, their capital sunk to the point that they were forced to put their entire archive up for auction – the prints only, not licensing or resale rights.

The archive dates back to the 1930s and includes work by Steve McCurry, Martin Parr, Eli Reed, Dennis Stock and a long list of other familiar names. Mark Lubell, the director of Magnum’s NY office said the sale “gives Magnum a very big push in helping reinvigorate the distribution of stories,” as well as provides the needed funds to move to a more efficient digital system. The archive was moved to the humanities library at the University of Texas in Austin, where it will be exhibited within the next two years.