National Geographic items up for auction

Iconic photo of Afghan girl to be sold

National Geographic has made its mark by bringing the world -- in all its grandeur, beauty and horror -- into people's living rooms.

Soon, some won't be limited to a glimpse from a magazine or a snippet from a TV show: They can get the full picture, literally, from the National Geographic Society as it auctions off originals of some of its most well-known, evocative works.

The auction house Christie's announced this week that it will put up for sale "fine art from the archives of the National Geographic Society." The items will be available for viewing between December 1 and 5 at Christie's gallery in New York, then go up for bid on December 6.

The images include the June 1985 cover photo of an Afghan girl - living in a land then, as now, embroiled in violence - with striking green eyes. Seventeen years later, National Geographic caught up with the woman, then believed to be in her late 20s and living near Tora Bora, in mountainous eastern Afghanistan.

Other photographs dating from the 1800s also will be up for sale, as will paintings from artists like Andrew and Newell Convers Wyeth.

The goal is to raise more than $3 million for the National Geographic Society, which bills itself as one of the world's "largest nonprofit scientific and educational institutions" and is behind research, conservation and education efforts, as well as its namesake magazine and television network.

The society celebrates its 125th birthday next year. Over that time, it has amassed "more than 11.5 million images, many of which have before been published nor exhibited," according to Maura Mulvihill, a senior vice president at National Geographic.

"As we celebrate our past accomplishments and look forward to our new ones, we are thrilled to bring a selection of these special works of art to the public and enable them to share in the rich legacy of National Geographic," Mulvihill said in a press release.