Fine art photography is getting weirder and weirder to commoditize.
The whole Vivian Maier saga has been an interesting (and frustrating) story here in Chicago for a few years...last year upon the release of a new book, there was a gallery show with non-vintage, silver gelatin prints made by a local Chicago print specialist. The prints were really nice but the gallery sucked because for some reason their heat was on even though the temps outside were in the high 60's. You could only stand to be in the gallery for 5-10 minutes at a time :~(
At the exact same time, just down the road was a different, non-associated Vivian Maier show at the Chicago History Museum...that show was a mix of silver gelatin and pigment inkjet prints. Some of the larger pigment inkjet prints didn't hold up as well as as the smaller silver gelatin (about 24"x24" framed sizes).
You can read the Vivian Maier Wikipedia story
...it describes the "discovery" of a large amount (said to be 100K) of her negs–some undeveloped and a smaller number of vintage prints by a real estate agent John Maloof ...I remember seeing a local PBS special on Vivian and an interview of Maloof. Maloof came off as somebody who wasn't looking to exploit Vivian Maier's legacy but somebody who was kinda thrown into the situation. The show talked about him having to learn curatorial arts and the effects he spent organizing and digitizing the collection that was in his possession.
A few years later, Chicago art collector Jeffrey Goldstein acquired a portion of the Maier collection from one of the original buyers–it's not clear who sold what to whom...both Maloof and Goldstein have portions of Maier's work...which is where the confusion and competition has come from. There's also a 3rd person, Ron Slattery who has a smaller collection and posted images on his own website.
None of which negates the talent that Vivian Maier shows in her photography...she was a true amateur and it seems she never tried to sell or profit from her work–although she did sometimes give prints away to some of the people she photographed, she rarely if ever showed other people her work.. According to the Wiki article, toward the end of her life, Maier may have been homeless for some time. She lived on Social Security and may have had another source of income, but the children she had taken care of in the early 1950s bought her an apartment in the Rogers Park area of Chicago and paid her bills. In 2008, she slipped on ice and hit her head. She did not fully recover and died in 2009, at 83.
It's a sad but interesting story...sometime this year, there's due to be a release of a film titled Finding Vivian Maier
John Maloof owns and runs http://www.vivianmaier.com
Jeffrey Goldstein owns and runs http://www.vivianmaierprints.com/
Ron Slattery had shown some of Vivian's photos on his web site http://www.bighappyfunhouse.com
Here's a local story from 2011 that tells some of the backstory between Maloof & Slattery Getting the Right Angle on Vivian Maier
Some people accuse Maloof & Goldstein of trying to exploit Vivian Maier's legacy while others credit them with bringing her work to the attention of the art community and furthering her legacy. I think the truth is somewhere in the middle. But, the bottom line is if these guys hadn't done something, Vivian Maier would have passed along into obscurity and her work would have been lost. Which would have been a shame because the work speaks for itself...