The Pictures Worth 4 Million Smackeroos

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie with Namibian first lady Penexupifo Pohamba in Swakopmund on Wednesday. Britney Spears sold pictures of her son to People. Photos of Michael Jackson's first child turned up in the National Enquirer.
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie with Namibian first lady Penexupifo Pohamba in Swakopmund on Wednesday. Britney Spears sold pictures of her son to People. Photos of Michael Jackson's first child turned up in the National Enquirer. (Associated Press)
By Bravetta Hassell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, June 10, 2006

People magazine isn't saying much about the deal it made that landed Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's new little bundle, Shiloh Nouvel, on its cover.

As you may have heard by now, the magazine reportedly paid more than $4 million to be the first to run pictures of the duo's daughter in North America. And though its managing editor, Larry Hackett, would not confirm the price tag for the rights to the photographs, he didn't hesitate to do a little chest-thumping about the coup.

"Readers expected People to have those pictures of personal moments," Hackett said. "I want readers out there to know . . . that they can come to us."

But if you publish such pricey pictures, will the gawkers come?

A spokesman for People said yesterday it's too early to measure newsstand sales of the issue, which hit the racks yesterday. The publication did raise the price on the weekly, however, from its usual $3.49 to $3.99. The magazine's Web site received 25 million hits Thursday, Hackett said, calling the response "beyond avid."

The money shelled out for the pictures will be donated to several charities, according to Hackett and a statement released by the couple, whose daughter was born in the south African country of Namibia on May 27.

The money will go to "various charities in Africa dedicated to children's welfare," Hackett said, though he said he did not know which ones.

Bridget Russel, spokeswoman for Getty Images, the agency that shot the photos and handled the bidding, said the arrangement was the first on that scale for the company. Other bidders included celebrity publications OK! magazine and Us Weekly. Hello! magazine won the British rights for the photos.

Pitt and Jolie also sold pictures for charity in April, Russel says. Photographs of the couple in Kenya were sold to Us Weekly, though Russel would not say for how much.

"While we celebrate the joy of the birth of our daughter, we recognize that two million babies born every year in the developing world die on the first day of their lives," the couple said in a statement Monday. "These children can be saved, but only if governments around the world make it a priority."

Jolie, a U.N. goodwill ambassador, has often leveraged her fame to draw attention to humanitarian issues.

But $4 million for baby pictures? Even the National Enquirer, which routinely pays for information, scoffed.


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