Issue #122  3/26/2007
Updates/Corrections On Last Newsletter

I certainly did make a few misstatements in the last newsletter about the Christie's Solley auction, most of which I corrected in the online version.

On the battle over "God" (the photograph): I said that bidder Gabriel Catone was working for Thea Westrich. He did indeed work at one time for this mega art consultant, but he recently went out on his own and formed a partnership in New York City with another former Westrich employee, Andrew Ruth, which is called Ruth/Catone. My apologies for failing to keep up with the changes. Both Tom Gitterman and Stephen Perloff filled me in belatedly on this move. Catone, who lost the bidding battle with dealer Peter MacGill, was apparently bidding for collector John Pritzker.

Lorraine Anne Davis wrote me about my comment on Strand "waxing" his prints. As she emailed me, "Strand didn't wax his prints...he VARNISHED them! With rectified turpentine and stand oil. It works OK on silver gelatin, but it wasn't always so successful on platinum, so that is why you can sometimes see reticulated surfaces. (He may very well have waxed the platinum prints...I only remember the silver gelatins.) The original Mexican portfolio was also coated with furniture lacquer. He cut a mask and physically "blew" a mist of furniture lacquer across the surface. That's one reason why Strand prints are so toasty now. He did this because he liked the way wet prints looked. The lacquer mimicked the wet-print look by punching up the reflective density and the contrast."

Davis knows what she is talking about because she worked at the Strand archives from 1983-1987. I won't tell you the rest of her tale because it might be too embarrassing to all concerned (amusing as it was), but if she ever writes her memoirs, definitely pick up a copy.

When talking about the price/value relationship, I said, "Compare this lot to the late-printed Horst that came up earlier in this auction, for example, that sold for more than four times the price of the Weiss and was considerably less rare. I know which I would rather have won." Well, although I did win awards for math in high school, that was obviously a long time ago. The cost for the late printed Horst was actually SEVEN (not four) times the price of the Weiss, making my point all the stronger.

Lot 59, the late-printed Klein that was featured on the cover of the Christie's Solley collection catalogue, sold to an Internet bidder for the ridiculously high price of $48,000 (double the high estimate, which itself was a bit high). During the week of this auction, this same image was reportedly priced at one major New York gallery for a mere $4,000. But auctions are surely the best place to buy low cost prints, right? Please wake up bidders! These same overpaying bidders will complain about the "high prices" from the dealers at AIPAD and then the very next week will again pay twice as much or more at the auctions for the same prints (or usually worse quality ones). Break down: buy a print from a respected dealer, who will actually stand behind what they sell (unlike the auction houses), and save money.

Stuart Alexander, one of Christie's experts that I highly respect, told me that two of the Cartier-Bresson prints in the sale that were listed as 1960s were probably just that, and that the papers they were printed on were virtually identical. I had said one looked early 1950s and the other 1970s. If he is right, I will blame it on low blood sugar.

The Bill Brandt Elbow, which I originally thought was printed very early, but may have been made as much as ten or 11 years after it was taken, I now think was made very close to the image date due to a number of factors, including provenance information, lack of glow under black light, Rapho stamp, etc. It is the earliest print of this image that I have seen on the market in nearly two decades or more. It was a definite bargain compared to one that sold recently in Paris for $19,000 more than this print and reportedly glowed heavily under black light. (Dating photographs simply by whether or not they glow under black light can be rather tricky. There are unusual occasions where glowing might be considered as more likely indicative of an earlier print. See my article on "Determining the Vintage or Age of a Photograph" at: http://www.iphotocentral.com/collecting/article_view.php/12/10/1 .)