Gamma/Sygma: The Fall, How Corbis scrapped Sygma


Judge Van Ruymbeke from the financial division of the Court of Paris recently made headlines during the affaire Cahuzac (named after the former official of the French Ministry of Finance). He also has on his desk a less publicized case: the end of the Sygma agency. It is the story of millions of photographs covering the final decades of the 20th century.

Gamma/Sygma – Alain Dupuis: Dawn of the conquerors

For forty years, Alain Dupuis sold photos, first for APIS, then for the Sygma agency, where he was joined by Claude Duverger, Tony Rubichon and others. The founding of Sygma was the starting gun for the fierce competition among Gamma, Sygma and Sipa Press, founded the same year as Sygma by Göksin Sipahioglu. The agencies managed in just a few years to drive up the price of news photos to outrageous sums.

Between 1985 and 1995, they created what has been called The Golden Age of Photojournalism, where photographers and sellers got “filthy rich” through real and false scoops and taking foolish risks. According to several witnesses, “the parking lots at Sygma were the first in France to have Porsches, Jaguars and Ferraris.”


This success made their downfall all the more bitter.


Michel Puech