FALL 2005 PHOTOGRAPHY AUCTION REPORT AT SOTHEBY’S, CHRISTIE’S AND PHILLIPS de PURY & COMPANY
By BRIAN APPEL
Dorothea Lange White Angel Breadline 1933 (printed no later than 1936)
gelatin silver print, 13-1/4 x 10-1/4 inches
Courtesy Sotheby's, New York
COVER: October 2005: Garry Winogrand Women Are Beautiful 1980-1981
gelatin silver print, 8-3/4 x 13 inches
The fine art photography market is in the midst of generating some of the biggest, most talked-about highs ever at auction. Prices have reached heights that have never been seen since the photography auction market began back in the early 1970s. Is this seemingly unending boom in prices ever going to end? Is the fine art photography boom peaking and at the point where it could start to decline? Or is it just beginning to move into a new phase of maturity where its value is just now breaking out of the ‘ghetto’ of photography and will continue to rise until it catches up with the other mediums of fine art like painting and sculpture?
Grasping the important relationships between classic photography of the 20TH century and the contemporary photographic tracings of the 20TH and 21ST centuries the new Rick Wester/Lisa Newlin team at Phillips de Pury & Company brought in 6 lots over six figures and a very respectable $4.36 million with a $16,283 average per lot price over 268 lots sold. Besting their last season take, Phillips provided a wide sampling of less prohibitively expensive classic 20th century photography by sourcing ‘printed later’ works of iconic imagery or ‘vintage’ images of slightly lesser known photographs as well as a smattering of edgier contemporary work that is succeeding in drawing in a younger, growing audience for the medium. Phillips handily pushed through 12 “highest price achieved for an artist at auction” records setting the stage for what was to come the following week.
Granting a Pro-Vietnam War demonstrator his dignity while exposing his naïve gaze, the season evening opener, Diane Arbus’s “Boy in Straw Hat Waiting to March in a Pro-War Parade, New York City”, (1967), printed by Neil Selkirk in 1973 with an estimate of $25,000-$35,000 (from outside the edition of 50 printed for the portfolio “A Box of Ten Photographs” and not released in an edition of 75 as stated in the catalogue) went for a robust $69,600. Robert Frank’s “Hitchhikers - Going to Butte Montana”, his existential on-the-road picture showing two young men Frank had picked up on his criss-crossing tour of America from “The Americans” (1955) printed by the artist in the 70s (with a low/high pre-auction estimate of $9,000-12,000) took home $18,000. His famous open-door hearse image, “London, (Belsize Crescent)” from ’52-’53 printed in the 60s (very late or early 70s more likely) with an estimate of $30,000-50,000 rapidly hit $74,400 in spirited bidding. Five selected images from Larry Clark’s sensational and graphic, but still controversial “Teenage Lust”, (1970) with a high estimate of $9,000 went for $15,600 while Lewis Baltz’s 15 print, Castelli Graphics portfolio “Nevada”, focusing on the profound effect of new construction on the landscape, numbered ‘20/40’, heated up the room going for $42,000, well above the pre-auction estimate of from $15,000-$25,000. Philip-Lorca Dicorcia’s “Mario” from 1978 depicting a spaced-out 20-something staring into his refrigerator went for a hefty $54,000, almost $20,000 above its high estimate. Combining the documentary eloquence of photography with the philosophical rigor of conceptual art, Nicholas Nixon’s “The Brown Sisters”, (1975-2004), a complete series of 30 photographs of the four Brown sisters photographed sequentially turned out to be a wise investment for the artist’s dealer, Jeffrey Fraenkel at $180,000 as another portfolio from the same series with only 28 images (1975-2002) sold five days later at Sotheby’s for $12,000 more. The evening’s outstanding prize however, was Andreas Gursky’s “EM Arena 1”, from 2000, an enormous 109 x 81 ¼ inch color coupler print mounted to plexiglass of a soccer game in process shot from above. Gursky’s stadium image isn’t even remotely about information that would be provided by a typical sports section newspaper shot however; this monumental, beautifully-packaged vitrine of life hints at the all-encompassing nature of the physical and psychological landscape we have created for ourself. Stephen Shore’s most iconic effort, “Twelve Photographs” (1976) each color coupler print signed and numbered ‘50/50’ with a $30,000 high estimate went for $56,000 and broke the artist’s previous record of $33,600 set by Phillips in the spring, and Garry Winogrand’s underrated “Women Are Beautiful”, (1981) of 85 gelatin silver prints from a portfolio of 80 plus 20 APs from RFG Publishing continues to climb quickly by bouncing up to $120,000 from the $84,000 it received back in April of ’05 at Christie’s (it sold for $65,725 at Christie’s back in October of 2003). William Eggleston, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Thomas Struth, Clarence John Laughlin, Lee Friedlander, Irving Penn and Andre Kertez did as well or better than their pre-auction high estimates.
The Sotheby’s team led by the formidable Denise Bethel and Christopher Mahoney placed second with gross sales of $10.30 million but, like the season before, produced the highest number of lots over six figures with the never-seen-before total of 27. The tightly condensed, “best of the best” single collection from the Joseph & Laverne Schieszler portfolio with only 34 lots offered (33 sold) brought in a staggering $4,743,200. This, in combination with their “Photographs” sale of 81 lots sold from various owners bringing in $5,570,000 helped to establish the house’s phenomenal $51,566 overall lot average making them the top per lot performer this season.
Two images, Dorothea Lange’s iconic trophy image, “White Angel Bread Line” showing the dignity and isolation from poverty during the depression in 1933 (printed no later than 1936) and Edward Weston’s extremely rare and sublime platinum print of “The Breast” from 1921, a shadow strewn nude close-up of Tina Modotti (who was later to become the artist’s lover and partner) each sold for the breathtaking high of $822,400, twice setting the record for any 20th century photograph at auction within two days. Serving as a time capsule from the seminal decade of Andre Kertesz’s career, the artist’s most famous image, “Chez Mondrian”, and one of the 21 vintage photographs from the 20s discovered in a portfolio among the photographer’s effects three years after his death, set a new world record for the artist at an incredible $464,000 (Phillips had already sold a 1979 ‘printed later’ version for $20,400 in their morning sale on the 7th). Selling for $374,400, Diane Arbus’s “Exasperated Boy With Toy Hand Grenade, New York” from 1962, printed by the artist between 1965 and 1969 is one of the first known images taken with the artist’s 2 ¼ inch twin-lens Rolliflex. This is the format that allowed Arbus to hold the camera at waist level enabling her to implement her crucially empathic gaze that is recognized as being one of the main components responsible for the brilliance of her pantheon. Selling for just over its high estimate, a printed later version of this same image (from an edition of 75) entitled, “Child With a Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park, N.Y.C.” by Neil Selkirk, sold for a hefty $108,000. Alfred Stieglitz’s “Georgia O’Keeffe”, a sensual full-body shot of the artist’s lover one year into their relationship on a warm-toned platinum-palladium vintage print framed by the artist brought in over $100,000 more than its pre-auction high estimate landing with $352,000. Never before offered at auction, “Shells”, Edward Weston’s vintage print from the fourth negative in his celebrated series of shell studies from a 1927 exposure brought in the shared Stieglitz’s ‘top’ price of $352,000. Weston’s negative log, now in the collection of the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, Arizona, indicates that there are only four prints from this negative in existence. Discovered in the trash of the San Jose, California Chamber of Commerce, Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Farm Workers in California and the West” a group of 32 photographs from the Resettlement and Farm Security Administration estimated to sell between $50,000 and $70,000 went for a cool $296,000. Mounted to thick buff-colored or slick white board with a large number of images titled by the artist herself, this lot included Lange’s most famous image, “Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California”. Embodying two of the artist’s most potent themes: aberrance and the family, Arbus weighed in again at $262,400 with “A Jewish Giant at Home with His Parents in the Bronx, New York” and “A Box of 10 Photographs” (1970), a portfolio printed after the artist’s death by Neil Selkirk with only 7 of the 10 images included, still managed to fetch $240,000. Robert Mapplethorpe, Nicolas Nixon, Irving Penn, Pierre Dubreuil, Ansel Adams, Tina Modotti, Walker Evans, Edward S. Curtis and Lee Friedlander sold at prices beyond their high estimates.
The seemingly unbeatable team of Joshua Holdeman and Philippe Garner led Christie’s photography department into the number one slot in sales this season with a whopping $14.53 million generated over three very successful collections. An impressive overall lot average of just under $42,000 was realized from the 346 lots sold. “20TH Century Photographs/The Gert Elfering Collection” (highest total for any single photography sale at auction with $7,158,080 with 142 lots sold) along with “Robert Mapplethorpe/Flowers” ($1,530,400 with 36 lots sold) in combination with the house’s “Photographs” sale from various collectors ($5,841,880 with 168 lots sold) ultimately touched all areas of this rapidly expanding market setting 13 “new world auction records” and reinforced its position as the centre of the business in New York.
Edward S. Curtis’s magnificent 20 volume / 20 portfolio document of text and photographs of 80 Indian tribes with a foreword and signature by Theodore Roosevelt set an unprecedented new world auction record for a photographic lot as well as one for the photographer at $1,416,000. Richard Avedon’s psychedelic work “The Beatles, London, England” from 1967 (printed 1990 in an edition of six) originally appearing in “Look” magazine’s January, 1968 special issue with a pull-out portfolio on the Beatles, established a new world-wide auction record for the artist at $464,000 for the four dye-transfer prints of John, Paul, George and Ringo. “Stephanie Seymour, Model, N.Y.C.”, a provocative oversized 57 ¾ by 46 inch Avedon gelatin silver print edition of ‘5/5’ wearing a ‘transparent’ Comme des Garcons dress (used as the cover image of “Egoiste” magazine #12 in 1992) more than doubled its high estimate at $262,400. Floating within a frame of thick, black wood like a painting, Robert Mapplethorpe’s “American Flag”, (1987) a platinum print on linen mounted on a stretcher bested the high pre-sale estimate by $172,000 going for an unbelievable new auction record for the artist at $352,000. “Poppy”, the artist’s highly stylized 1988 dye-transfer print of a flower endowed with a suggestively bristled stem (numbered ‘1/7’) took the top slot at the “Robert Mapplethorpe Flowers” sale landing in at a never-seen-before $251,200 for the image produced by the artist in an edition. Diane Arbus’s vintage “A Family One Evening in a Nudist Camp, Pa.” from 1965, one of the 32 photographs that hung in the first room of the momentous 1967 Szarkowski curated MoMA show, “New Documents”, brought in a hefty $307,200 as did Irving Penn’s photograph of his wife and super-model, “Woman in Moroccan Palace (Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn), Marrakech” from 1951, edition number ‘34/50’ (printed 1983). Even though there are nine known prints of this image in public collections, Edward Weston’s “Nude – Dunes at Oceano” from 1936, a proto-typical example of the artist’s brilliance with high-key lighting and posing, far exceeded its top pre-sale estimate catching $284,800. Stieglitz’s “Georgia O’Keeffe”, from 1919, an optically sensual waxed palladium vintage print of the artist’s backlit nude muse holding a rare African sculpture sold for $240,000. Irving Penn’s luminous “Black and White Vogue Cover” from 1950 and one of his most widely celebrated images printed on platinum-palladium paper in 1976 (numbered ‘31/34’), brought $216,000, a remarkable $96,000 over its high estimate. A highly recognized image, with a ‘Conde Nast’ copyright credit, “Woman with Roses (Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn)” from 1950, a platinum-palladium print flush-mounted on aluminum and editioned ‘10/14’, sold for $84,000 over its high estimate receiving $204,000. This matched yet another Diane Arbus vintage print, “X-mas Tree in a Living Room in Levittown, L.I.” from 1963, portraying an antiseptic arrangement of what is supposed to be an important spiritual moment in suburbia. Thomas Struth, Peter Beard, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Harry Callahan, Horst P. Horst, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Brassai, Jacques Henri Lartigue, Edward Steichen, William Eggleston, Robert Frank and Lee Friedlander sold at numbers that far exceeded their high estimates.
Lee Friedlander Cincinnati, Ohio (Bed in Window) 1963
gelatin silver print, 9 x 6 inches
Courtesy Sotheby's, New York
The fact that there has never been so much excellent material offered up for sale suggests that a lot of sellers feel the market has in fact hit a high and are now taking their dividends for their prescience. The buyers who are paying unheard of record-breaking prices for these works on the other hand think that these pieces are still undervalued and have a long way to go to reach their maturity. It is an environment that makes everyone happy – especially the auction houses themselves who regardless of who’s selling or who is buying receive a 20% premium from every buyer (up to $200,000 and 12% beyond that amount) plus a 10-15% premium from every seller.
Joshua Holdeman, Head of Photographs, New York, and Philippe Garner, International Director of Photographs, on the completion of their second of three successful sales at Christie’s issued the following press release on October 10:
“Today marked a watershed moment for post-war photography with world records being smashed for photographers such as Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Robert Mapplethorpe and Peter Beard. A further eight world records were set, including those for Horst P. Horst, Brassai and Henri Cartier-Bresson. The exceptionally high percentage of lots sold by lot and value underscore the significant strength and depth of today’s market.”
During auction week I queried a very kinetic bidder who turned out to be someone who has been collecting photographs for over 30 years, a Mr. Alex Novak. Alex writes and publishes an E-photo newsletter and owns “Vintage Works, Ltd.” a private dealership in Chalfont, Pa. I asked Mr. Novak what his thoughts were on the breakdown of material offered at the big three and if it seemed like Christie’s and Sotheby’s had really grabbed a much larger piece of the pie this time out and wondered whether the market for fine art photography still had a long way to go to reach maturity. I also asked him which photographers he thought were still undervalued and which were over-valued. His responses were noted as followed:
“Brian, actually Phillips did very well. It is just that they did not have a single owner sale this time out, and they had the unenviable position of being scheduled the week before most of the action in a very heavy auction season. I know Rick Wester very well and he will be a strong competitor to the two main houses. My own E-photo Newsletter will discuss the fragmentation of the market that I think is the real story here. We are now seeing a normal traditional market, a contemporary market, a VERY high-end traditional market, and a speculative, over-priced “edgy decorator” market (think Helmut Newton, Irving Penn, Robert Mapplethorpe and Richard Avedon). It feels like a speculative bubble, especially in the high-end portion of the market. When a poorer Edward Weston print of virtually the same image sells for double the price of one auctioned just the year before and when a Mapplethorpe that is basically wallpaper sells for upward of $250,000, we may have to ask ourselves if people are really paying attention to market basics. Yes, there are still many photographers and images that are currently undervalued. Lots of photographers are still under priced, including, but certainly not limited to, Lewis Baltz, Clarence John Laughlin, Edward Steichen (although watch what happens in London next month, when records will be set), and most quality 19th century images, which have virtually disappeared from the marketplace. While we still may see a bit more movement up, the economy will put a break on this sharp upward movement.”
Andreas Gursky EM Arena 1 2000
color coupler print face mounted to plexiglass, 109 x 81-1/4 inches
Courtesy Phillips de Pury and Company
Looking for a seasoned response to these observations, I forwarded Mr. Novak’s comments to Paul Sack, a collector who is recognized by “ARTnews” magazine as “One of America’s Top 25 Photography Collectors” and he wrote the following:
“I agree with the first six sentences and like his description of the four market types. As you probably know, I have called Penn and Avedon the two most overpriced photographers of the 21st century; Alex calls it “an overpriced ‘edgy decorator’ market”.
I am an economist and not sure how he would define “market basics” except as “how the market used to be”. And it is always hard to differentiate a bubble from lasting market changes. There are, I think, new people in the market who have lots of money, are used to spending it on even more expensive contemporary art, and to whom it seems a bargain to pay $250,000 to $850,000 for vintage prints of recognized iconic landmarks in photographic history. They are supporting what Alex calls “a VERY high end traditional market”. But that may not be a bubble. A collection of these iconic trophies could easily maintain these very high prices, as heavy-duty collectors with deep pockets want to have them.
I am operating in his “normal traditional market” and hope it continues to exist. It is possible that, as the new collectors find it harder and harder to find the iconic trophies, they will spread their purchases and push up the “normal traditional market” too. Indeed, I think that’s already happening. Who knows, the trophy-hunters might even come to love photography enough to buy to their own taste and spread out into the field instead of relying on art consultants to identify and find for them the iconic trophies.
As an economist, I cannot help adding that it is a function of supply and demand. Think about the supply and the new players on the demand side. It is not likely to stop, I think. Certainly, the supply of iconic trophy prints cannot, by definition, expand – except in the ‘edgy decorator’ category. And why would not even more trophy hunters be attracted to photography from the art market, where new things by this year’s flash artist sell for more than photographs whose position in art history has long been established?”
When I e-mailed Paul’s response to Alex he send me the following:
“I know Paul very well, and I respect him. He has written a thoughtful response. I hope he is right, but I suspect that eventually the pyramiding by a handful of dealers and collectors will have a sudden and expensive stop, like most such adventures. Just where in that trajectory it hits apex is still unknown, but I think we are within about two-three years of it. You cannot see the same images double or even quadruple in a year or less and say this is a “reasonable” market. It is not supportable and it is too thin to find a lot of new buyers at this level for the market to be sustainable at these levels. That’s a “greater fool” strategy that never works long term. Only slower, sustainable growth can be depended on for the long term. That’s what I define as “market basics”.
History is important to learn from. Market peaks are always marked by frantic buying at unreasonable prices. I think any major economic indicator going the wrong way will shock this market back the other way. These images are now being bought for “investment” and greed, not because of love of photography. Yes, we all want our images to go up in value, but investment is not the ONLY reason most of us purchase photographs. The new buyer’s sure look like this is the ONLY reason for their buying pattern. They seem to be depending largely on a small group of dealers who are encouraging this short-term spike in photography prices in view of a stock market that is going sideways.”
Paul’s final response to this was:
“I hope Alex is right but do not know why he thinks these people are buying prints at these unprecedented prices as investments, thinking they will go even higher. Because of what it costs to resell a print at auction or through a dealer, the price has to go up by about 40% for such a buyer just to break even. Do they really think a print they buy for $800,000 is going to be resold for $1.5 to 2 million? I think they are collectors concentrating on trophy pictures which are very rare.”
This observer feels that as long as the collector base of fine art photography continues to grow at the accelerated pace it has been expanding into due to a combination of more interest (The Arbus and Friedlander retrospectives most recently) and more money (hedge fund fortunes being made in Wall Street, real estate, technology and other industries), and as long as the market continues to benefit from the many museums that are playing catch-up in building their photography collections to satisfy these new gallery goers who are being drawn by the incredible amount of publicity and positive reinforcement from art establishments of late, prices will continue to be buoyant. Most importantly, as long as the “unique” photograph is trading at a fraction of the price of a major painting or sculpture, the ‘still’ image will continue to rise out of the ‘ghetto’ of photography at an accelerated pace until it ultimately reaches parity with its cousins in the other fine art mediums.
The concept of the “unique” photograph may seem to be a puzzling designation for a medium which is built upon the notion of its infinite ‘democratic’ reproducibility, but in fact, prints made from a negative in an extremely close proximity to the initial exposure carry in their ‘DNA’ the fingerprints of not only the artist’s first true intensions (and sensibility) at the time of exposure, but also, as importantly, the technological underpinnings of that time frame in history. The content of the percentage of silver found in the emulsion of photographic paper for example is only one of several ways for an ‘expert’ to trace to a very specific point in time the true date of a print -- think forensic scientist estimating the likely time of death of a corpse. Hence the difference in price between Andre Kertesz’s “Chez Mondrian” carte-postale vintage print from 1926 that went for $464,000 at Sotheby’s on October 10th versus the Andre Kertesz “Chez Mondrian” gelatin silver print from 1979 that sold for $20,400 at Phillip’s on October 7th. You would be as successful in your attempt at making a “vintage” print from a negative made on “modern” photographic paper as someone trying to build another Chrysler Building in Manhattan with the materials and skills available to contemporary contractors. With a hundred billion dollars you still could never find artisans with the skills and materials with the integrity of the 1930 original. Those entities are locked into the time frame from which it sprang as surely as our own mortality is destined. The entire market is driven by the ever rising value of these rare irreplaceable ‘objects’.
In a milieu as defined by consumerism as this one, the reality of the auction event brings along with it something that is overlooked by contemporary art exhibition audiences. Whether you can afford to bid on the works or not, the auction house previews (which take place for periods of up to six days before each auction in the spring and the fall of every year) provide an extraordinary opportunity to actually interface one-on-one with the priceless objects that are a product of some of the most brilliant and revolutionary minds of our culture’s rarest and most influential artists. Connoisseurship is not something only reserved for the snobby aristocrat. Get out there and explore what the ‘aura’ of an ‘original’ means in a medium that is famous for its unlimited reproducibility. Or, as the ebullient Monah Gettner from Hyperion Press said to me recently – “Do it for the love of it!”
Irving Penn Woman in Moroccan Palace (Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn), Marrakech 1951
Platinum-palladium print, flush-mounted on aluminum, printed in 1983,
19-3/4 x 19-5/8 inches
Courtesy, Sotheby's, New York
TOP 15 LOTS AT AUCTION / PHOTOGRAPHY (New York, Fall ’05 – Oct. 6,10,11 & 12)
(Final figures include buyer’s premium of 20% on the first $200,000 and 12% on the balance)..
1) Edward S. Curtis, “The North American Indian”, (1907-1930), large format photo gravures, Portfolios 1-20 & Volumes 1-20, set number ‘83’ from an edition of only 272 with a foreword and signature of Theodore Roosevelt. [CHRISTIE’S, Sale #1560, “PHOTOGRAPHS”, October 12, ’05, Lot #12]. Estimate: $400,000 – 600,000 / Sold: $1,416,000. World Auction Record for Edward S. Curtis / World Auction Record for a Photographic Lot.
2 – Way Tie
2) Dorothea Lange, “White Angel Bread Line”, (1933), printed no later than 1936, gelatin silver print, 13 ¼ by 10 ¼ inches. [SOTHEBY’S, Sale N08115, “PHOTOGRAPHS”, October 11, ’05, Lot #115]. Estimate: $200,000 – 300,000 / Sold: $822,400. World Auction Record for Dorothea Lange / World Auction Record for a 20th Century Photograph.
Edward Weston, “The Breast”, (1921), print dated 1923, warm toned platinum print, 7 3/8 by 9 3/8 inches. [SOTHEBY’S, Sale N08164, “20TH CENTURY PHOTOGRAPHS / Schieszler”, October 10, ’05, Lot #7]. Estimate: $300,000 – 400,000 / Sold: $822,400. World Auction Record for Edward Weston / World Auction Record for a 20th Century Photograph.
2 – Way Tie
3) Richard Avedon, “The Beatles, London, England”, (1967), printed 1990, 4 dye-transfer prints, each signed and numbered ‘3/6’, 21 ¾ by 17 ¼ inches. [CHRISTIE’S, Sale #1642, “20TH CENTURY PHOTOGRAPHS / Elfering”, October 10, ’05, Lot #161]. Estimate: $200,00 – 300,000 / Sold: $464,000. World Auction Record for Richard Avedon.
Andre Kertesz, “Chez Mondrian”, (1926), on carte-postale on the original full vellum mount, signed and inscribed ‘Paris’ by the photographer in pencil on the mount, 4 ¼ by 3 1/8 inches. [SOTHEBY’S, Sale N08164, “PHOTOGRAPHS / Schieszler”, October 10, ’05, Lot #24]. Estimate: $400,000 – 600,000 / Sold: $464,000. World Auction Record for Andre Kertesz.
4) Diane Arbus, “Exasperated Boy With Toy Hand Grenade, New York”, (1962), probably printed between 1965 and 1969 by the artist, 14 1/8 by 13 7/8 inches. [SOTHEBY’S, Sale N08115, “PHOTOGRAPHS”, October 11, ’05, Lot #172]. Estimate: $350,000 – 500,000 / Sold: $374,400.
3 – Way Tie
5) Robert Mapplethorpe, “American Flag”, (1987), platinum print on linen mounted on a stretcher, 19 ¾ by 24 inches in the artist’s frame. [CHRISTIE’S, Sale #1560, “PHOTOGRAPHS”, October 12, ’05, Lot #141]. Estimate: $140,000 – 180,000 / Sold: $352,000. World Auction Record for Robert Mapplethorpe.
Alfred Stieglitz, “Georgia O’Keeffe”, (1918), warm-toned platinum-palladium print, matted, framed by the artist, 9 1/8 by 7 5/8 inches. [SOTHEBY’S, Sale N08164, “PHOTOGRAPHS / Schieszler”, October 10, ’05, Lot #13]. Estimate: $150,000 – 250,000 / Sold: $352,000.
Edward Weston, “Shells”, (1927), gelatin silver print signed and numbered ‘4/50’ on the mount in a projected edition of 50, 9 ½ by 7 ½ inches. [SOTHEBY’S, Sale N08164, “PHOTOGRAPHS / Schieszler”, October 10, ’05, Lot #5]. Estimate: $150,000 – 250,000 / Sold: $352,000.
2 – Way Tie
6) Diane Arbus, “A Family One Evening in a Nudist Camp, Pa.”, (1965), gelatin silver print printed by the artist in 1965, 13 ¾ by 13 5/8 inches. [CHRISTIE’S, Sale #1560, “PHOTOGRAPHS”, October 12, ’05, Lot #70]. Estimate: $250,000 – 350,000 / Sold: $307,200.
Irving Penn, “Woman in Moroccan Palace (Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn), Marrakech”, (1951), platinum-palladium print, flush-mounted on aluminum, printed 1983, numbered ‘34/40’, 19 ¾ by 19 5/8 inches. [CHRISTIE’S, Sale #1642, “20TH CENTURY PHOTOGRAPHS / Elfering”, October 10, ’05, Lot #156]. Estimate: $80,000 – 120,000 / Sold: $307,200. World Auction Record for Irving Penn.
7) Dorothea Lange, “Migrant Farm Workers in California and the West”, a group of 32 photographs from Selected Resettlement and Farm Security Administration Images, mounted to thick buff-colored or slick white board (32 photographs on 30 mounts), various sizes to 13 ¼ by 10 ¼ inches. [SOTHEBY’S, Sale N08115, “PHOTOGRAPHS”, October 11, ’05, Lot #43]. Estimate: $50,000 – 70,000 / Sold: $296,000.
8) Andreas Gursky, “EM Arena 1”, (2000), color coupler print face mounted to Plexiglas, one from an edition of six, 109 by 81 ¼ inches. [Phillips de Pury & Company, Sale NY040205, “PHOTOGRAPHS”, October 6, ’05, Lot #52]. Estimate: $150,000 – 200,000 / Sold: $291,520.
9) Edward Weston, “Nude – Dunes at Oceano”, (1936), gelatin silver print initialed and dated on the mount, 7 5/8 by 9 ½ inches. [CHRISTIE’S, Sale #1642, “20TH CENTURY PHOTOGRAPHS / Elfering”, October 10, ’05, Lot #55]. Estimate: $150,00 – 200,000 / Sold: $284,800.
2 – Way Tie
10) Diane Arbus, “A Jewish Giant at Home with His Parents in the Bronx, New York”, (1970), a gelatin silver print signed by the artist’s daughter Doon Arbus, with the ‘A Diane Arbus print, Doon Arbus administrator’ stamp, 15 3/8 by 15 1/8 inches. [SOTHEBY’S, Sale N08115, “PHOTOGRAPHS”, October 11, ’05, Lot #175]. Estimate: $200,000 – 300,000 / Sold: $262,400.
Richard Avedon, “Stephanie Seymour, Model, New York City”, (1992), gelatin silver print, signed, numbered ‘5/5’, 57 ¾ by 46 inches. [CHRISTIE’S, Sale #1642, “20TH CENTURY PHOTOGRAPHS / Elfering”, October 10, ’05, Lot #152]. Estimate: $80,000 – 120,000 / Sold: $262,400.
11) Robert Mapplethorpe, “Poppy”, (1988), dye-transfer print, signed, dated, numbered ‘1/7’, 19 ¾ by 18 ¾ inches. [CHRISTIE’S, Sale #1669, “MAPPLETHORPE / Flowers”, October 10, ’05, Lot #210]. Estimate: $30,000 – 50,000 / Sold: $251,200.
3 – Way Tie
12) Diane Arbus, “A Box of 10 Photographs”, (1970), a selection of 7 (of 10) gelatin silver photographs each signed, dated, and numbered ‘40/50’ by the photographer’s daughter, Doon Arbus, printed in the early 70s by Neil Selkirk, each approximately 15 ½ by 14 ½ inches. [SOTHEBY’S, Sale N08115, “PHOTOGRAPHS”, October 11, ’05, Lot #174]. Estimate: $200,000 – 300,000 / Sold: $240,000.
Alfred Stieglitz, “Georgia O’Keeffe”, (1919), waxed palladium print, 9 ½ by 7 ½ inches. [CHRISTIE’S, Sale #1560, “PHOTOGRAPHS”, October 12, ’05, Lot #204]. Estimate: $100,000 – 150,000 / Sold: $240,000.
Paul Strand, “Shadows, Twin Lakes, Connecticut”, (1916), on Satista paper, matted, framed, 12 5/8 by 10 1/8 inches. [SOTHEBY’S, Sale N08164, “PHOTOGRAPHS / Schieszler”, October 10, ’05, Lot #20]. Estimate: $200,000 – 300,000 / Sold: $240,000.
4 – Way Tie
13) Pierre Dubreuil, “The First Round”, (circa 1932), one of only two known oil prints, 9 5/8 by 7 ¾ inches. [SOTHEBY’S, Sale N08115, “PHOTOGRAPHS”, October 11, ’05, Lot #110]. Estimate: $100,000 – 150,000 / Sold: $216,000. World Auction Record for Pierre Dubreuil.
Horst P. Horst, “Mainbocher Corset”, (1939), gelatin silver print with discrete intervention of the retoucher which served as master for all subsequent prints, 9 by 6 ½ inches. [CHRISTIE’S, Sale#1642, “20TH CENTURY PHOTOGRAPHS / Elfering”, October 10, ’05, Lot #73]. Estimate: $120,000 – 180,000 / Sold: $216,000. World Auction Record for Horst P. Horst.
Irving Penn, “Black and White Vogue Cover”, (1950), platinum-palladium print signed, titled, dated, numbered ‘31/34’ printed in 1976, 17 by 15 inches. [CHRISTIE’S, Sale #1642, “20TH CENTURY PHOTOGRAPHS / Elfering”, October 10, ’05, Lot #40]. Estimate: $80,000 – 120,000 / Sold: $216,000.
Edward Weston, “Epilogue”, (1919), warm-toned platinum print on a large tan mount, signed, dated, and titled by the photographer on the mount, matted, framed, 9 5/8 by 7 3/8 inches. [SOTHEBY’S, Sale N08164, “20TH CENTURY PHOTOGRAPHS / Schieszler”, October 10, ’05, Lot #9]. Estimate: $120,000 – 180,000 / Sold: $216,000.
2 – Way Tie
14) Diane Arbus, “Xmas Tree in a Living Room in Levittown, L. I., (1963), gelatin silver print signed, titled, dated by the artist in ink, now partially cropped out (on the verso) stamped ‘a Diane Arbus print’, signed by Doon Arbus, administrator in ink, 12 1/8 by 12 ¼ inches. [CHRISTIE’S, Sale #1560, “PHOTOGRAPHS”, October 12, ’05, Lot #71]. Estimate: $150,000 – 200,000 / Sold: $204,000.
Irving Penn, “Woman with Roses (Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn)”, (1950), platinum-palladium print, flush-mounted on aluminum, printed 1979, numbered ‘10/14’, 21 5/8 by 14 5/8 inches. [CHRISTIE’S, Sale #1642, “20TH CENTURY PHOTOGRAPHS / Elfering”, October 10, ’05, Lot #17]. Estimate: $80,000 – 120,000 / Sold: $204,000.
3 – Way Tie
15) Peter Beard, “Self-Portrait for Centre Nationale de la Photographie, Paris”, (1996), collage of gelatin silver prints, color-coupler prints and morphine drip expedition label, 84 by 53 ½ inches. [CHRISTIE’S, Sale #1642, “20TH CENTURY PHOTOGRAPHS / Elfering”, October 10, ’05, Lot #149]. Estimate: $80,000 – 120,000 / Sold: $192,000. World Auction Record for Peter Beard.
Nicholas Nixon, “The Brown Sisters”, a group of 28 gelatin silver photographs from The Brown Sisters series, comprising consecutively the years from 1975 – 2002, each numbered by the photographer in pencil, ‘28/50’, each print 7 5/8 by 9 5/8 inches. [SOTHEBY’S, Sale N08115, “PHOTOGRAPHS”, October 11, ’05, Lot #181]. Estimate: $80,000 – 120,000 / Sold: $192,000. World Auction Record for Brown Sisters series for Nicholas Nixon.
Irving Penn, “Girl in Bed on Telephone (Jean Patchett), New York”, (1949), gelatin silver print, ‘print made near to date of photograph’ signed, initialed, titled, dated on the reverse, 19 3/8 by 15 inches. [CHRISTIE’S, Sale N08164, “20TH CENTURY PHOTOGRAPHS / Elfering”, October 10, ’05, Lot #92]. Estimate: $40,000 – 60,000 / Sold: $192,000.
FALL 2005 NEW YORK AUCTION HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHY SALES (Oct. 6,7,10,11 & 12) $29,207,508
1] Christie’s $14,530,360 (Sale #1642, “20TH Century Photographs, The Elfering Collection” / Sale #1669, “Mapplethorpe Flowers” / Sale #1560, “Photographs”)
2] Sotheby’s $10,313,200 (Sale N08164, “Photographs, The Schieszler Collection” / Sale N08115, “Photographs”, Session 1 & 2 )
3] Phillips de Pury & Company $4,363,948 (Sale NY040205, “Photographs”, Part 1, 11, 111)
AVERAGE PER LOT PRICE RECEIVED AT AUCTION
1] Sotheby’s $51,566 (200 lots sold / 27 lots over six figures)
2] Christie’s $41,995 (346 lots sold / 26 lots over six figures)
3] Phillips de Pury & Company $16,283 (268 lots sold / 6 lots over six figures)