Sales of photographs are attracting an ever-growing population of collectors and the rise in demand was reflected in last year’s auction prices with twelve 7-digit results, a general price index up 25% and an auction turnover ten times higher than 10 years ago. In New York at the beginning of April, Phillips, Sotheby’s and Christie’s were offering several hundred photographs with estimated prices ranging from $800 to $500,000. The sales took place on April 1 at Phillips, April 1 (evening sale) & 2 at Sotheby’s, and April 3 at Christie’s. Here are some of the results:
Top Bid at Christie’s was:
IRVING PENN (1917-2009)
Frozen Foods, New York, 1977
dye-transfer print, printed 1984
signed, initialed, titled, dated, notation ‘14696’ in ink, Penn/Condé Nast copyright credit reproduction limitation stamp and stamped ‘signed prints of this photograph not exceeding 33’ (on the reverse of the mount)
image/sheet: 23 3/8 x 18¼in. (59.5 x 46.4cm.)
mount: 26 x 21in. (66.1 x 53.4cm.)
Estimated $60,000 – $80,000 it realized $198,000
Six of the Top Ten lots were Irving Penn photographs out of which four sold for an 6-digit amount. One of four photographs by Richard Avedon was also sold for a price of this category.
RICHARD AVEDON (1923-2004) Nastassja Kinski and the Serpent, Los Angeles, California, June 14, 1981 gelatin silver print signed and numbered ’51/200′ in pencil (on the mat) image/sheet: 28 x 42in. (72.2 x 109cm.) Estimated at $70,000 to $90,000 realized $137,000 which was $18,000 less than another print of the edition had realized two days before at PHILLIPS.
The cheapest Lot was sold for $938 despite an estimate of $3,000 to $5,000 and created
by DANNY LYON
Total Turnover at Christie’s $4,230.000
The two top lots out of the ~ $4,000.000 result at Sotheby’s were:
ALFRED STIEGLITZ (1864-1946) Georgia O’Keeffe – Nude Study, Palladium print, mounted to board, 1918-19 Size 9 1/2 by 7 5/8 in. (24.13 by 19 cm.) Estimated at $300,000 to $500,000 the lot realized $365,000
Man Ray (1890-1976),’Champs Delicieux: Album des Photographies,Paris 1922, an edition of 40 numbered copies), a volume containing 12 tipped-in photographs of rayographs by Man Ray, with a printed 3-page preface by Tristan Tzara and colophon signed and numbered ’34’ by the photographer in ink. Folio, original red wrappers with yellow printed label
The photographs approximately 8 3/4 by 6 3/4 in. (22.2 by 17.2 cm.)
Estimated at 250,000 — 350,000 it brought $281,000 including Buyer’s Premium.
The least expensive deals of the day were photographs by Berenice Abbott. Three of his images offered for $5,000 to $7,000 each, all changed hands for $3,750 each including Buyer’s Premium.
Here is one of them:
BERENICE ABBOTT (1898-1991)’Sumner Healey Antique Shop’, numbered ‘170’ in the negative, the photographer’s Federal Art Project ‘Changing New York’ and caption stamps, with title, date, and annotations in colored pencil, on the reverse, 1936 (Yochelson, Middle East Side, pl. 33) Size 9 1/2 by 7 1/2 in. (24.1 by 19.1 cm.)
At PHILLIPS, April 1, around Lunch Time Auctions (10AM and 2PM) offering 271 modern and contemporary lots, we saw
HIROSHI SUGIMOTO (1948)
The Music Lesson, 1999, Pigment Print 53 1/8 x 41 3/4 in. Signed in ink, printed title, date and number 5/5 on an artist’s label affixed to the reverse of the frame. Estimated at $200,000 to $250,000 with a result of $629,000 in front.
Followed by fellow country man
NOBUYOSHI ARAKI (1940), ‘From Close to Range’,1991
A Gelatin silver print diptych, printed 2008. Each 49 x 39 7/8 in. Overall 52 1/2 x 86 in. (133.4 x 218.4 cm) Right panel signed in pencil on the verso; signed, dated in pencil, printed credit, title and date on a Certificate of Authenticity accompanying the work. Estimated at $80,000 to $120,000 it had generated $191,000 when it changed hands.