Issue #163  8/3/2009
Piasa Auction Sells Just Over 50% Mark, Totaling 265,000 Euro

By Alex Novak

The next day was the multi-owner sale at Piasa in Drouot. The auction was a mixed bag to say the least. Just over half the lots sold and the net with buyers' premiums was only a hair under 265,000 euro or $376,000 at the $1.42 per euro exchange rate in effect the day of the sale. This is actually a pretty typical result for Piasa photo auctions though. Again, I will give a run down of those lots that came close to or broke over the 5,000 euro mark with the buyers' premium. Most of the action was over the phone or by commission bids. The expert here is Yves Di Maria, another good friend.

There were three lots of Carleton Watkins mammoth-plate prints early in the sale, but only one lot that was worth bidding on, lot 3, a view of San Francisco. The other two lots were faded, foxed and yellowed, although you might not know it from looking at the catalogue or online jpegs. Lot 3 itself would still require conservation/cleaning, but the tones were decent on this image. The photograph was actually a part of a larger three-part panorama, but still made an interesting picture on its own. Unfortunately for me, not only did it draw the attention of fellow AIPAD dealer Chuck Isaacs, but also a very persistent phone bidder. Chuck outbid me, but still fell to the phone bidder, who picked up the photograph for just a hair under 5,000 euro, or just over $7,000--still a bargain.

A pair of albums by Pierre Louys, which contained 132 small nudes and a view of his apartment, sold for 18,836 euro and was the top lot of this auction. Lot 89, five of Roger Parry's photographs that illustrated "Après" by Remarque and "Le Peseur d'Ames" by Maurois, sold for 9,914 euro.

Lot 96, a group of photographs by and of Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann, sold for more than double the low estimate at 6,196 euro.

The well-known image by Jean (Yan) Dieuzaide of Dali in the water with flowers at the tips of his waxed moustache (lot 194) also sold well over its estimate of 1000-1500 euro. With buyer's premium it sold for a whopping 5,452 euro.

Despite doubling its low estimate, lot 289, Jean-Baptiste Huynh portfolio group of 42 prints, was a great bargain at just under 5,000 euro. There were some great images in this lot.

The cover lot, (lot 307) Jacques Olivar's "Eva Herzigova with Python, Java", sold for its high estimate at 7,559 euro.