On the auction block: Getty Images could fetch $4B in private equity bid

Getty Images, the Seattle digital image company led by Jonathan Klein, may be headed from the arms of one private equity firm to another. And the price tag is getting quite high.

The Wall Street Journal reports that private equity firms KKR and TPG are among five bidders kicking the tires on the company, with reporter Anupreeta Das citing unnamed sources who say initial bids have come in at about $4 billion.

The company actually was taken private in July 2008 by private equity firm Hellman & Friedman in a deal that valued Getty at $2.4 billion. Prior to that deal, it was traded on The New York Stock Exchange.

A public offering is another possible path for Getty Images, which competes against Seattle-based Corbis in the stock photography business. But the Journal said that is not as likely as a sale since the interest has been high in the company on the private equity front.