On this day in 2008, the first published photos of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s newborn twins, Vivienne Marcheline and Knox Leon, go up on People magazine’s Web site, People.com. A 19-page photo spread followed in the magazine’s August 18, 2008, issue.
People won the rights to the photos after a bidding war that, according to some reports, reached as high as $14 million, the most ever paid for celebrity baby pictures. The Jolie-Pitt twins, who were born July 12, 2008, at Fondation Lenval hospital in Nice, France, were a huge source of media fascination from the moment their mother announced their impending arrival.
People magazine, which launched its first issue in 1974, has featured photos of celebrities and their offspring since its early days. The singer and actress Cher and the rock musician Gregg Allman appeared on the September 27, 1976 cover of People with their newborn son, Elijah, and Cher’s daughter (with Sonny Bono), Chastity. However, three decades later, celebrity magazines dramatically intensified their focus on Hollywood babies and began paying millions for exclusive images of stars and their newborns. Magazine bidding wars for celebrity baby photos reached a fever pitch with the May 2006 birth of Pitt and Jolie’s daughter Shiloh. Rather than enabling the paparazzi to make money off the first photos of their child, the two actors, who co-starred in Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005) and first appeared publicly as a couple in 2005, decided to sell the photos themselves and have the proceeds go to charity. According to some reports, People paid more than $4 million for the North American photo rights.
After Jolie and Pitt appeared with Shiloh on the June 19, 2006 cover of People, the magazine sold an extra 800,000 copies and the price for images of star babies continued to rise. The actress and singer Jennifer Lopez and her husband, Marc Anthony, sold images of themselves and their newborn twins to People for a reported $5 million. Lopez appeared with the twins on People’s cover in March 2008. Several months later, the images of the Jolie-Pitt twins set a new record price for Hollywood baby pics.