BANGKOK, Thailand (AP)-When Dutch photographer Hubert Van Es shot one of the classic
photographs of the Vietnam War, his boss gave him a pat on the back and a U.S. $100
Seventeen years later, a print of his photograph-evacuees trying to reach a helicopter
on a Saigon rooftop in 1975-fetched 31,500 baht (U.S. $1,240) Nov. 4 at an auction
of some of the best photojournalism of Indochina ever assembled.
Organizers said that 96 photographs were auctioned off to enthusiastic expatriates
and Thais who paid a total of 823,500 baht (U.S. $32,400).
Proceeds will go to training programs for journalists from Vietnam, Cambodia, and
Laos and to build a memorial to some 320 journalists from all sides who died while
covering wars in Indochina from 1945 to 1975.
The auction was preceded by an exhibit-"War, Peace and the Printed Image"-of
some 140 photographers spanning four decades of Indochina coverage. They included
works by well-known war photographers like Horst Faas, Tim Page, Sean Flynn, and
Henri Huet as well as a younger crop currently focusing on a more peaceful Indochina.
At the auction, though, peace took second place to war.
After the photo of the panicked helicopter evacuation of Saigon, the most sought-after
photo was an atmospheric depiction of the battle at Hamburger Hill by Van Es, who
was a stringer for the Associated Press and United Press International during the
Vietnam War. It was sold at 25,000 baht (U.S. $985).
Third was a chilling scene by French photographer Roland Neveu, who witnessed the
1975 gunpoint evacuation of Phnom Penh residents by the victorious Khmer Rouge. This
was auctioned off for 23,500 baht (U.S. $925).
A series of stark combat photographs from the early years of the Vietnam war were
also in high demand. These were taken by Horst Faas, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner
now based in London for the Associated Press.
A minute of silence was observed by the 300 people attending the auction and dinner
for those journalists killed or still missing from the wars.
Sean Flynn, son of Hollywood actor Errol Flynn, was captured and presumed executed
by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia in 1970 along with American cameraman Dana Stone.
Huet was shot down in a helicopter inside Laos. North Vietnamese photographer Luong
Nghia Dung was killed in 1972 during some of the fiercest fighting of the Vietnam
War-in and around the city of Quang Tri in central Vietnam.
Dung's work and those of two other Vietnamese combat photographers, which were recently
obtained from the Vietnam News Agency in Hanoi, also proved popular at the auction.
"War, Peace and the Printed image" was organized by the Indochina Media
Memorial Foundation, the brainchild of British photographer Page who was wounded
five times in Indochina and lost several close colleagues during the war.
The prints, obtained from original negatives, were donated by photographers and media
organizations with buyers forbidden to use them for commercial purposes.