Christie's auction to support family of slain photojournalist Anton Hammerl


Libyan loyalist forces' bombs explode on rebels position on April 5, 2011 near the eastern oil town of Brega.



"We need to get to the vehicles,” South African photojournalist Anton Hammerl shouted as two trucks overflowing with fighters loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi raced toward him. It was early April, 2011.

Hammerl, an experienced war correspondent, had traveled to the front lines of the Libyan conflict with GlobalPost journalist James Foley, Atlantic reporter Clare Gillis and Spanish photographer Manu Brabo.

The team never got to those vehicles. The four instead ran off the side of the road to take cover from the spray of bullets they assumed were directed at the fleeing rebels. It wasn't long before they realized the bullets were directed at them.

"With all the bullets flying, we pressed ourselves as close to the ground as possible." Foley recalled after he, Gillis and Brabo was released from prison 44 days later. "The rebels faded into the distance and the Gaddafi trucks slowed to a stop. The roar of bullets overhead sounded like machines eating up metal. AK-47 rounds ripped past us from less than 50 meters."

Foley heard Hammerl call out for help. His voice was weak. "Anton, are you ok?" Foley shouted between bursts of fire.

"No," Hammerl said, in a much weaker voice.

More from GlobalPost: Inside Gaddafi's Libya: 44 days of captivity, survival and hope

Foley would catch his last glimpse of Hammerl, lying limp in the dessert, as he and the others were carted off by the Libyans and taken to Tripoli. As they languished for a month and a half in the Libyan judicial system, they never uttered a word to anyone about the fate of Hammerl, fearing official reprisals.

Outside of Libya, speculation grew about his whereabouts and safety. The Gaddafi regime led the world to believe Hammerl was alive. But as soon as his three colleagues crossed the border into Tunisia, they called his wife to confirm what everyone feared. Her husband had been killed.

The celebrated photographer is survived by his wife Penny and their three children. Foley said that on the night before the attack, Hammerl showed him a picture of his son Neo, who was 7-years old at the time. There is also 11-year-old Aurora and his 1-year-old baby Hiro.

Now, just over a year later, friends of Anton Hammerl are raising money to help support the family he left behind. At Christie's in New York City on Tuesday, the group will be auctioning off contemporary photojournalism prints from acclaimed and award-winning photographers from around the world. Renowned international correspondent Christiane Amanpour is hosting the event.

For more information or to make an absentee bid, check out their website here.