Last week, various international media sources (nationally, in Texas and in North Carolina) announced that the mystery man who puckered up to an unsuspecting nurse in time’s square when the Japanese announced their surrender on August 14, 1945 has been “outed.” Alfred Eisenstaedt’s famous photo of the sailor kissing the nurse (V.J. Day, The Kiss – 1945) is the icon for America’s joy at the end of World War II. Eisenstaedt did not identify the two kissing because he was on assignment to “get the story.” In fact he simply returned the roll of film to his editor and moved on to the next story. (we know this because he personally told us in 1993).
Today’s focus on the two in the photo is part of the greatest generation’s great debate. Glenn McDuffie has contended for years that he is the sailor featured in Eisenstaedt’s photograph. McDuffie has been identified by Houston based forensic artist and facial expert Lois Gibson. While we are art experts, the great debate continues because the photograph means so much internationally and to Americans, young and old. Collectors should include this image in a personal collection because of it’s patriotism, romanticism or for it’s most obvious meaning – historical significance. Only a limited amount of the photographs were authorized by Eisenstaedt prior to his death in 1995.
Not all versions of the photograph have significance. The signed, limited edition in pristine condition is currently valued at $48,000 unframed, with the certificate of authenticity and in pristine condition. Variations of the photograph exist: a dorm room poster might be $30 new while other signed photographs by Eisenstaedt from the original negative can range from $3500, $20,000 and $48,000. The pricing depends on provenance, condition and format.
Victory over Japan was a global event. The winds of peace settled shortly after these two romantics found their way from Times Square. Today’s collectors can honor the beauty of this moment by including the work as an icon to both the photographer and the event he so elegantly captured.