Helmut Newton created his Private Property portfolio in 1983. The objective was to constitute an anthology of images that would represent the range of his achievement through the preceding ten years. He eventually selected forty-five subjects, to be presented in three suites of fifteen. Each suite includes exemplary photographs that demonstrate the unique way in which this brilliant photographer drew together the disciplines of fashion, portraiture and the erotic. Private Property includes numerous images that have become icons -- Elsa Peretti in a 'Bunny' Costume by Halston, Woman into Man, Office Love, Tied-Up Torso, Self-Portrait with Wife and Models, Woman Examining Man, and the naked Sie Kommen, to name but a few.
This was over a quarter of a century ago. Newton engaged in the project with a characteristically single-minded focus. He arranged for an American master printer, Thomas Consilvio, to work in a South of France darkroom so that he could keep a very close control of the process from his Monte Carlo home. Newton had no desire to spend time in the darkroom, but he knew exactly the results that he wanted and he was an exacting taskmaster. The full edition of seventy-five was printed to his satisfaction and to high archival standards. Newton considered how to package the prints, and the choice of off-the-shelf, heavy-duty boxes with webbing straps and handles and stenciled titles suited his instinct for something tough, functional and willfully non-precious.
Though Newton was enjoying considerable professional success at the time Private Property was published, the market was not yet responding as it does today to the work of the great photographers of the post-war years. Newton's print market was in its infancy. By the time twenty or so portfolios had found buyers, he was focused on other projects and decided that no further sets should be sold. There is no intention ever to release the balance into the market place, making this, in effect, an edition of no more than twenty five. A number of the sold sets have been broken and in recent years we have seen a growing demand for the individual prints when they become available. The opportunity to acquire a complete set is today a very rare one. With the passage of time the importance of this portfolio has become ever more evident. It is a landmark representation of an exceptional photographer at the height of his creativity.