Issue #122  3/26/2007
Christie's Feb. 15th Multi-Owner Sale Tops $1.23 Million With Just Over 72% Sold

The second photography sale at Christie's seemed to really be just an afterthought, especially after the Thomas Solley sale the day before. It couldn't even be called a bargain-hunters sale, although there were a few rare opportunities. It did total $1,231,800 and sell about 72.2% of the lots (Christie's "rounded up" to 73% in their press materials).

The "highlights", for what they were, follows. The prices all include the 20% auction house tariff over the actual hammer bids. I will only report on the few lots that got over $18,000. That means the Top Ten list here.

Most of the bidding came from the phones and commission bids. At one point the active phone bidders actually outnumbered the attendees at the sale itself (19-17).

A printed later (whatever that means now) Garry Winogrand photograph of "Central Park Zoo, New York City" (lot 3) soared over its normally reasonable estimate of $3,000-5,000. In the battle between a commission bid and the phone, the phone "won" at $19,200.

Another phone bidder took lot 68, a late-printed Henri Cartier-Bresson of "Queen Charlotte's Ball, London", for nearly twice the high estimate at $18,000.

The top lot of this auction would not have been predicted prior to the sale. Irving Penn's "Hat, New York", which had been estimated at $10,000-15,000 for this silver print in an edition of 11 and printed in 1985, soared on frantic phone bidding. It was finally hammered to a European dealer on the phone for an astounding $60,000.

Another late-printed Horst took off. Lot 82, a Mainbocher Corset in a larger 16-1/8 x 12-7/8 in. size, went well over its estimate ($9,000-12,000) to finally sell for $24,000--which had been well over gallery prices.

A Cole Weston print of one of his father's nudes (lot 95) sold well above the estimate ($4,000-6,000) for $18,000 to the phone.

Ruth Orkin's "American Girl in Florence, Italy" (lot 119), again in another late print, still managed to more than double the high estimate at $18,000. I had just sold a superior one the week before for less than half of this price.

Ansel Adams did very well here with most prints getting into the estimate ranges. The top two--both bought by an American dealer--were his "Moonrise, Hernandez, NM" (lot 145, which sold for a reasonable $42,000) and "Basin Peak and the Buttermilk Country Road" (lot 152, which soared over it high estimate at $26,400).

Eikoh Hosoe's platinum portfolio of Ordeal by Roses went well over its high estimate (as it should) at $20,400. Hosoe is one of those great masters and influences, who is still greatly undervalued and overlooked.

The back cover lot (in more ways than one), John Swannell's sexy shot of two women scantily clothed from the rear touching each other (lot 182, "Fine Lines"), more than doubled its high estimate at $19,200.