The Wall Street Journal has a nice profile of Benedikt Taschen which includes a good explanation for his success–who knows?–and these interesting numbers for Helmut Newton’s Sumo:
His most recognizable book changed his empire forever. “SUMO” (1999) by Helmut Newton was an oversized heavyweight, AT 35.4 kilograms with 420 images. The book sold out in its limited run of 10,000 copies and became the most expensive book of the 20th century. Initially, it retailed at $1,500 (€1,091); today, it sells for $15,000. The first “SUMO” copy sold at auction in Berlin in 2000 for $430,000.
But don’t ascribe Taschen’s success to his taste for the outré:
“In the media, sex is still, in a way, officially the devil. I never saw it like this; it’s one of the driving forces in human nature. Surprisingly, sex is a very insignificant part of business—only about 5% of our sales, even though the media makes it seem like more,” he says.
Benedikt Taschen’s Risky Business (The Wall Street Journal)