In 1999 Benedikt Taschen published SUMO, a retrospective of iconic photographer Helmut Newton. SUMO was a titanic book in every respect: it broke records for weight, dimensions, and resale price. The book was tribute to one of the 20th century’s most influential, intriguing and controversial photographers. SUMO – a landmark book stood head and shoulders above anything previously attempted in publishing history.
Measuring 50 x 70 cm (20 x 27.5 inches) and weighing approx. 30 kg (66 lb.), the book contains 464 pages, breaking any previous record. Some explicit adult content, 100s of photos including Elizabeth Taylor, bejewelled and beautiful in her pool, Hugh Heffner and a bevy of beauties, mafia types, clothed and unclothed women in those iconic 1980s shots, often monochrome, and many famours names to spot frpm Hollywood. It also comes complete with a Philippe Starck folding bookstand.
The 10,000 copies sold at a staggering £6,000 each, while the first of the limited run, signed by 80 of the celebrities shot by Newton, later sold at auction for $430,000. Now, copies of Sumo often pop up on eBay – one recently sold for $15,000.