$6 mil for a baby poitrait


Never mind the baby’s name or gender. These days, the real question surrounding A-list births is which tabloid will get the pictures first.

It’s an industry. Celebrity weeklies, forced to compete with a swarm of entertainment shows and tabloid-style blogs, all chronicling the minutia of celebrity life, have gone into a frenzy for exclusives. The result: The amount they’re willing to pay for snaps of private moments has skyrocketed. And entrepreneurial celebrities stepping in to maintain control of–and profit from–their exposure, only fuel things further.

In Forbes’ list of the most expensive celebrity baby photos, we surveyed top-priced photos sales in the U.S. over the last decade. Our estimates are not adjusted for inflation, and we didn’t look at photos that sold for less than $500,000. Since the celebrity weeklies are notoriously tight-lipped about such sales, we were forced to rely on published reports and only considered photo sales for which information was available.

Topping the list is the lavish cover spread of twins Emme and Max, the much-anticipated offspring of Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony. According to published reports, People magazine, which is owned by Time-Warner, coughed up $6 million for the exclusive first shots that were featured in the glossy’s March 31 issue. (The magazine doesn’t comment on the specifics of its deals, but says the figure is inaccurate.)

The second most lucrative example to date came in the spring of 2006, when A-list pair Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt peddled pictures of their pouty newborn Shiloh Nouvel to the very same magazine.

Rather than pocket the loot, the humanitarian duo donated the funds to African charity. The reported sum: $4.1 million–and that doesn’t include the $3.5 million that Hello! reportedly shelled out for the British rights to the pictorial. Less than a year later, the couple reportedly banked another $2 million for a set of exclusive pictures of adopted son Pax Thien. The coo-worthy shots of the Vietnamese-born tot, which tied with OK! Magazine‘s Danielynn (Anna Nicole Smith’s daughter) spread for third place on our list, were splashed across a June issue of People magazine. Now, with a set of twins reportedly on the way, industry insiders suggest the bold-faced couple could fetch as much as $10 million for the exclusive

Such photographs are no doubt adorable, but are they really worth their hefty price tags?

Absolutely, says OK! deputy editor Rob Shuter. But anybody that looks at it as just a one-week phenomenon has missed the real point,” Shuter explains. “It’s branding. It’s publicity. It’s marketing.”

For a magazine, an exclusive set of A-list baby pics generates a tremendous amount of buzz, from blog write-ups to talk show segments to newspaper headlines. Not every star is willing to play, however.

Will the latest crop of pregnant celebs, including Jamie Lynn Spears, Jessica Alba and Nicole Kidman, take their cue from the Sex and the City star? The increasingly competitive star-gazing industry is hoping not–and Trunzo says the audience that supports it wouldn’t be pleased either.

“Celebrities put out one face when they’re on the big or small screen,” she says, “but the face that our readers want to see is the one behind closed doors.”


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