SuperStock Sold To RGB Ventures

Posted on 1/19/2009 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (3)

In a court-approved auction in Jacksonville, Fla., on Jan. 16, RGB Ventures bid $2.825 million to become the new owner of the U.S. assets of SuperStock. RGB intends to continue to operate the company, rather than close it down as was the intention of previously announced bidder Masterfile. The sale is free of liens and encumbrances.

RGB Ventures is a consortium of photographers that unites Rubberball, Glow Images, Blend Images and some of Blend’s partners. Lanny Ziering of Blend will become CEO of the new company. RGB intends to continue to employ most of the existing SuperStock staff, and there may also be a few new hires.

As part of the deal, RGB structured its bid to insure that a portion of the $2.825 million would be set aside by the court to pay unsecured creditors—photographers and image partners—a portion of the monies owed. The exact amounts of this portion and the total owed such creditors were unavailable at the time of this writing. In most bankruptcies, secured creditors, such as banks and others who extended collateralized loans, are given priority treatment over others. Old SuperStock owners are now obligated to make some payments to image suppliers.

Ziering said: “We see this purchase as a great opportunity. SuperStock is a great agency with a wonderful image collection, including about 110,000 wholly owned images of vintage, fine art, travel and scenic subject matter. It also has a great staff and great direct sales.”

When asked how RGB could make SuperStock profitable, Ziering pointed out that new owners will not pay interest on a $15.5-million debt, as a21 Group had been doing. In addition, RGB believes it can drastically reduce overhead by moving to smaller offices: SuperStock had paid $50,000 per month for office space. Finally, RGB estimates that taking SuperStock private and eliminating the need to comply with public accounting rules would save over $700,000 annually. As a result, TGB expects SuperStock to become profitable within the first year.

Louis Ingram bought SuperStock Ltd., gaining control of Ingram Publishing for $100,000, and then sold the U.K. domain to RGB Ventures, which will continue to maintain direct sales in the U.K. The ArtSelect portion of the a21 business was sold for $1.625 million.

Copyright © 2009 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


  • John Hults Posted Jan 19, 2009
    What a great way to resolve this. Congrats to the new ownership group, and especially to Lanny. Lots of challenges ahead, surely, but I can't think of a more qualified group than this to take it on. Good luck, guys!

  • Gerard Fritz Posted Jan 19, 2009
    A good outcome. As usual, however, the photographer's images somehow 'become' assets of the company. When in fact they are on loan from the real So to somehow be lower on the list of creditors, than the banks, is a sad reminder of the pecking order in business today.

  • Bill Bachmann Posted Jan 19, 2009
    Funny, the photographers MAY get SOME of the money owed to them! Boy, someone let me know that percentage...

    Larry loves that "110.000 wholly owned images" are what excites him. I know for a FACT that they hired cheap photographers to absolutely COPY big sellers and other best sellers from other agencies so that they could FULLY OWN them. Nice to just forget the ol' copyright idea of images.

    I wish them the ability to treat PHOTOGRAPHERS correctly... something that the original owners never could even spell. Never with them , but I kept a close watch and was often disgusted in the work ethics. If I were you Superstock photographers, I would run -- not walk -- to any other agency.

    Bill Bachmann

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