The Story About the Image of Che Guevara

The 5th of March 1960 the Belgian arms transport “La Coubre” exploded in Havana harbour, killing 136 people. As a staff-photographer at the Cuban newspaper “Revolution”, Alberto “Korda” Gutierrez was assigned to cover the following memorial ceremony held in Havana. Among the prominent guests were Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre. Fidel Castro held one of his endless speeches and Korda was shooting away, when Che Guevara suddenly appeared on the stage. Korda pointed his Leica at Che and managed to make two shots of him, before Che turned around and disappeared.

Back in his darkroom Korda enlarged, among others, one of the Che frames. The editor at “Revolution” picked a Castro-picture for the newspaper and returned the rest. Korda liked the Che picture and put it on the wall in his Havana-studio.

The picture was still hanging on the wall in 1967, by now tobacco-tinted though, when a man knocked on the door. The person did not present himself, but handed over a letter of introduction from a high-ranking member of the Cuban administration. The letter asked Korda to help this person in his search for a good Che picture. Korda pointed at the wall saying: “This is my best Che picture”. The visitor agreed and asked for 2 copies of the print. Korda told him to return the next day, which he did. When asked the price of the prints, Korda replied, that since the visitor was a friend of the revolution, he didn’t have to pay.