The company was taken private by fellow buyout house Hellman & Friedman for $2.4bn in 2008.
Bain Capital, KKR and Charterhouse were all thought to be considering bids for the company but appear to have been spooked by the likely sale price.
The sale process is now heading into the final leg with a three-way bid-off between the three firms, Reuters reported.
KKR’s interest came as no surprise following its recent acquisition of stock photography website Fotolia, which will serve as a platform for acquisitions of other digital rights groups similar to its partnership with music publisher Bertelsmann.
A leveraged buyout by another private equity firm would require equity of around $1.5bn, previous reports have suggested, while an IPO could be complicated by a lack of similar quoted companies against which to value Getty.
Hellman and minority stakeholders collected a $379m dividend earlier this year, and a $504m dividend in 2010.
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