Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt: Should Celebrities Sell Baby Photos?

August 3, 2008

Celebrities Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt Sell Brangelina Baby Photos for Record $14 MillionTomorrow is the big day! The first photographs of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitts’ twins, Vivienne Marcheline and Knox Leon, will hit the newsstands in People magazine. The photos of the twins, born less than a month ago on July 12 in Nice, France, fetched about $14 million. People magazine, in a deal with the British Hello! magazine, paid the king’s ransom bought the photo rights. Apparently, there’s a premium on twins, as photo rights for Brangelina’s first biological child, Shiloh, fetched a mere $4.3 million in 2006. Still, Shiloh’s pictures helped People sell 2.2 million copies — its best-selling issue since People’s 9/11 issue, which sold 4 million copies. But should celebrities commercialize the births of their children?

While Shiloh’s fee was purportedly donated to African charities and the twins’ fee will likewise be donated to charity, the process of monetizing baby pictures is distasteful. Must newborn infants be thrust into the spotlight to make money? And how will the children feel later in life about having been commercialized as a baby? It’s not like they have a say in the matter.

Movie Star Angelina Jolie, Pregnant with Twins, Takes Her Brood for a StrollEveryone except the twins will get a lot of mileage out of the latest Brangelina pictures. People and Hello! will enjoy increased magazine sales and big tax breaks, with the money spent listed as a donation to the Jolie-Pitt Foundation, managed by the Long Island, New York-based Foundation Source. According to a Fox News story and according to Roger Friedman, Brangelina has deposited $8.5 million in their foundation’s account, with $1 million donations going to Doctors without Borders and the Epidermolysis Foundation. Interestingly, the Red Cross in Namibia, where Shiloh was born, got only $137,035. These donations are tax deductions for Brad Pitts, 44, and Angelina Jolie, 33, as well. And that doesn’t count the intangible, yet valuable, publicity the couple receives from the infants’ photo spread.

Last year, Brangelina also sold photos of their three-year-old son, Pax, to People and Hello!.

Angelina Jolie at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2008In Baby Bucks, a June MSNBC article which questioned the trend, several A-list celebrity publicists were interviewed. One publicist said: “I’ve been in this business for a long time and, really, it never occurred to (anyone to) ask for money until the last five years or so. It became a negotiating tool around the same time more celebrity magazines flooded the market. People used to be the only game in town, and then Us became a weekly, and then there’s In Touch and Life & Style, and now OK!, too. It’s all out of hand.”

Another publicist commented: “The bubble is going to explode, it just has to.. .Why? Not only has the money involved climbed to ridiculous heights, but there is nothing left to be surprised about when everyone from the teen star of a children’s show to the most powerful couple in showbiz is having kids. . . What else is out there? Is someone going to light themselves on fire? Because that’s essentially what it’s going to take to get this kind of attention and money again. There’s nothing left to be over-the-top about now. Interest has to begin to shift.”

Nicole Kidman Pregnant with Keith Urban's BabyWe like Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban’s approach to the matter. Kidman, 41, gave birth to the couple’s daughter Sunday Rose in Nashville, Tennessee on July 7; she said:“My baby’s not for sale.” A friend of Kidman and Urban told the Sydney Morning Herald: “They don’t think it’s appropriate to make deals.” Singer Urban and actress Kidman also refused magazine offers for exclusive photos of their wedding, instead releasing one official photo of the nuptials.

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Photo credit: TMZ, Reuters and SplashNews.

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