Leaked Sony emails have shown how Gagosian Gallery, who represent the German artist Andreas Gursky, worked for months to enable the artist to use images of Batman, Superman, Iron Man and Spider-Man for a series of works. 

The Art Newspaper reports that at least six Hollywood executives were involved in the extensive negotiations for the licences, which included the use of personal favours. The publishers of the comic-book characters appear to have needed convincing, and have maintained a large measure of control of the copyright.

The emails reveal that Marvel, which publishes the Spider-Man and Iron Man comics, sought a 10% royalty on all sales of photographs featuring Marvel characters. They also insisted on approving how each image would be used. Gursky apparently offered to give Marvel a small print of the Iron Man and Spider Man photographs (valued at around €100,000 each) in lieu of a licensing fee. The retail price for the full-size images is around €350,000 each.

Roven, the producer of the Batman films, also needed persuading. He was concerned that the Batman images that Gursky wanted to use would be out of date, as they featured Christian Bale, not Ben Affleck, who will take on the role in future films.

The photographs went on view at London’s White Cube gallery last Spring, and are due to travel to the USA later this year, according to The Art Newspaper.