Here's how you can get those photos deleted:
1 - create a new, empty album.
2 - open the Trash bin and drag the photo onto the empty album icon below.
3 - back in the Trash bin select all of the phtoos and drag them onto the Library icon to return them to there original Events.
4 - go to the album, select about 100 photos at a time and type Command+Option+Delete to move them to the Trash bin.
5 - empty the iPhoto Trash bin.
6 - repeat step 4 and 5 until all photos are removed from the library.
I found the same problem "trashing" about 10000 photos and thumbnails. The only thing I found to get rid of the spinning disk crash after the iPhoto trash is emptied (via iPhoto), was to actually open the OS trash and toggle the folder called iPhoto. This allowed the trash to be emptied in the iPhoto program, and then I was able to empty the OS trash to permanently delete my duplicates and thumbs.
Using Mac 10.6.8, iPhoto 9.2.3
Hope that helps
how are you dragging photos from the trash bin to the albums? Mine won't let me. It will only let me drag the trash bin photos back to the library. I already have spent hours going thru my library finding the photos that need to be deleted. I don't want to have to go thru that again. I have over 20,000 photos in the trash bin.
Do you use ratings with your photos? If not then select all of the photos in the trash and Control-click to bringup the contextual menu. There will be the 4 stars for the ratings. Select either 5 or 1 to apply that rating to the photos.
Next create a smart album with the criteria:
selecting the number of start you applied to those in the Trash bin.
Move the photo from the trash bin to the Library and the Smart Album will immediately be populated with those photos.
You can now select about 100 photos at a time and use the Command+Option+_Delete key combination to move them back to the trash bin and empty it. Repeat with groups of about 100 or so photos till they are all deleted.
Having 48,239 photo's in my Iphoto Trash and experiencing the "Crash" I sought a solution and landed here. While I didn't take the route of the suggestions above.... I did find a solution that I wanted to share should anyone else experience this.
In IPhoto Preferences on the General Tab. Toggle the Selected Items check box. The solution I found said to uncheck it - However mine was already unchecked - so I decided to try enabling it and "BAM!" I was able to empty my trash in Iphoto and get rid of the 48,239 photo without crash.
I hope this works for you as well.