Entrepreneur Buys British Photo Archive

Times Staff Writer

The Hulton Picture Library, one of the world’s leading repositories of photographs, has been sold to a London businessman for an undisclosed price, the British Broadcasting Corp. announced Monday.

A bid by Brian Deutsch, a 41-year-old entrepreneur with interests in cable television, was selected over 21 others submitted since the BBC announced last year that it planned to sell the library.

Deutsch is “a collector by nature, he’s a shrewd businessman and he has good ideas how to exploit the library’s resources,” said Stephen Bennett, a director of Deloitte Corporate Finance, which handled the sale for the BBC.


The cost of the transaction was not made public, but Bennett indicated that it was probably around the $3.6 million the BBC had sought.

“The amount was substantial,” Bennett said. “The BBC is quite satisfied.”

With more than 10 million photos, engravings and other images, some dating back to the 16th Century, the Hulton is regarded as one of the richest visual archives anywhere, ranking in quality with Time-Life and Bettman.

The BBC had specified that the purchaser must maintain the library intact, not move it out of Britain and guarantee public access to it.

Deutsch, chairman of the London-based cable television companies Westminster Cable Television and City Center Cable Ltd., purchased the library as a separate business interest, Bennett said.

Deutsch said in a telephone interview that he plans to relocate the library at a new site in London, catalogue it for easier access, and market its pictorial riches aggressively.

“I’ve always been interested in pictures,” he said. “I’ve always collected them. But aside from collecting, this is a good commercial enterprise. Proper packaging and marketing of something like this is extremely important.”

He said he plans to extend the library beyond its present cut-off date, “to remedy the post-1980 gap.”

Bennett said that Deutsch, in his purchase proposal, mentioned expanding the production of calendars, posters and pictorial books of famous events.

The library’s three-man management team, which had also submitted a bid, issued a statement in support of Deutsch and declared its intention to remain with the library.

The BBC bought the Hulton Library 30 years ago from the Hulton Press, publishers of the now-defunct Picture Post, a leading pictorial magazine from the mid-1930s to the late 1950s. The BBC said it sold the library because it no longer fit into the marketing strategy of BBC Enterprises, the corporation’s subsidiary that sells rights to BBC material.