(Publisher's Note: my thanks to Stephen Perloff for the following article, but we are not responsible for any of his puns and/or "jokes".)
Sotheby's sale of 175 Masterworks to Celebrate 175 Years of Photography on December 11 and 12 in New York realized a record $21,325,063, led by Alvin Langdon Coburn's Shadows and Reflections, Venice, at $965,000, and Alfred Stieglitz's Evening, New York from the Shelton at $929,000--both well over high estimate. The sale attracted many leading dealers and collectors and the evening sale especially boasted the largest number of people in a New York photography auction salesroom in many years. And in an era when phone, order, and online bidding usually far outnumbers the bidding in the room, this sale featured a majority of winning bids coming from the room, making for real excitement from beginning to end.
The audience was comprised of a who's who of American photography dealers and collectors--though not any European dealers in the room and seemingly few on the phones. Among the bidders in the room and on the phone and Internet were photography dealers and consultants Gabriel Catone (who usually bids for collector John Pritzker), Jeffrey Fraenkel, Michael Shapiro, Edwynn Houk, Robert Koch, Hans Kraus, Dan and Mary Solomon, Robert Burge, Bruce Silverstein, Kevin Moore, Peter MacGill, Alex Novak, Howard Greenberg, Jill Quasha, William Schaeffer, Janet Lehr, Parker Stephenson, Tom Gitterman, Kevin Moore, Henry Feldstein, Deborah Bell, Ezra Mack, Matthieu Humery (bidding for his boss, François Pinault), Timothy Prus, Hendrik Berinson, curators Keith Davis (Nelson-Atkins), Virginia Heckert (Getty) and Joshua Chuang (CCP), and collectors Michael Mattis, Sylvio Perlstein, and Thomas Walther, among others.
It also should be noted that the catalogue for this sale resembled Sotheby's excellent catalogues before the financial crisis of 2008 in that it had many large illustrations and extensive historical background material on the images. I'm sure this helped and it makes the catalogue a collectible and useful item in itself. Much of that material had been relegated to the Internet site for the auctions in the past few years, although it had been returning in small increments more recently.
World auction records were set for Alvin Langdon Coburn, August Sander, Tina Modotti, Julia Margaret Cameron, Lee Miller, Walker Evans, and Martin Munkácsi, as well as Lewis Baltz*, Ernest Benecke, Gordon Coster, Ted Croner, T. Lux Feininger, Hiromu Kira, Clarence John Laughlin, Etienne-Jules Marey, Ralph Eugene Meatyard, Oscar Nerlinger, Charles Nègre*, Judith Joy Ross, Stephen Shore*, Lewis Tabor, Benjamin Brecknell Turner, Doris Ulmann* and Garry Winogrand. (The starred names mean the record was for an individual photograph; albums or lots of multiple images have sold for more.)
The total exceeds the previous record for a Photographs auction by over $6 million. That sale, Important Photographs from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Including Works from the Gilman Paper Company Collection, in February 2006, had an estimate of $4–$6 million and totaled $14,982,900, well over high estimate. This sale fell close to the midpoints of the estimate of $13–$20 million. (Estimates do not include the buyer's premium, but sale totals do.)
And so the sale began. Fortunately none of the lanes were closed, so Jeffrey Fraenkel got the evening started by paying a toll of $87,500 for Margaret Bourke-White's The George Washington Bridge, New York City (1) ($60,000–$90,000). [Just to help keep the many lots I mention clear, I'm adding the lot number in parentheses after the titles.] Michael Shapiro claimed Lee Miller's Untitled (Iron Work) (2) ($150,000–$250,000), a rare and striking modernist print, for $377,000, well above high estimate, and auguring so well for the rest of the sale that in the end, it did not even crack the top ten.
Order bidder L0059 modeled Edward Steichen's Cheruit Gown (Marion Morehouse) (Mrs. E. E. Cummings) (3) ($50,000–$70,000), for $87,500. [While no phone, order, or Internet bidder won more than four lots, I will also mention their numbers to help keep everything straight.]
Next, Gabriel Catone, usually bidding for collector John Pritzker, and consulting on his cell phone and using number 203 (he had three separate paddles), paid a Manhattan-style price of $929,000, more than double the high estimate, for Alfred Stieglitz's Evening, New York from the Shelton (4) ($200,000–$300,000), the cover lot, as he outlasted San Francisco gallerist Jeffrey Fraenkel, who himself had surpassed the bids of New York dealers Peter MacGill and Edwynn Houk. It was the second highest price of the sale. Some scattered applause greeted the hammer.
A man in the room, 229, planted $197,000 for Edward Steichen's Wheelbarrow and Flower Pots (France) (5) ($150,000–$250,000). Then L0059 came back for Alfred Stieglitz's The Picasso-Braque Exhibition, "291" (6) ($200,000–$300,000), for only $173,000, under estimate and perhaps a mild surprise. Indeed, with all the records set in this sale, there were also quite a few bargains in the end.
Collector Michael Mattis went over high estimate to win Paul Strand's Hudson River Pier (7) ($100,000–$150,000), from Michael Shapiro, for $245,000. Gabriel Catone shoveled up Alfred Stieglitz's Out of Window—291--N.Y. (8) ($400,000–$600,000), for $461,000, just under low estimate, perhaps another bit of a bargain for a very pleasing picture.
Alfred Stieglitz's Music—A Sequence of Ten Cloud Photographs, No. 1 (9) ($200,000–$300,000) floated by without a bid as it passed at $95,000. One assumes the reserve might have been a couple of bids higher, but overall most of the reserves seemed quite low. One wonders if the sale had a global estimate that was clearly going to be surpassed so that it was sometimes better to sell a lot than let it buy-in.
Edwynn Houk plucked Charles Sheeler's The Lily, Mount Kisco (10) ($100,000–$150,000), for $87,500, below estimate and another strong image that could well have done better. Perhaps early in the sale some bidders were holding back a bit in order to go after other things later in the sale.
Alvin Langdon Coburn's Shadows and Reflections, Venice (11) ($350,000–$500,000), was not the highest estimated lot in the sale, but is a rare, stunning, and important image. Gabriel Catone, using a different bidder number, 206, for this lot, went over high estimate to $965,000 to claim the top lot of the sale. But Coburn's rare Vortograph (12) ($300,000–$500,000), bought in at $170,000.
Michael Shapiro purchased a ticket for $112,500, well under estimate, for Tina Modotti's The Stadium, Mexico (13) ($150,000–$250,000). Likewise Michael Mattis did not have to reach the low estimate for Paul Outerbridge, Jr.'s. Saw and Square (14) ($150,000–$250,000), as he completed the job for $149,000.
But Gabriel Catone had to go above the high estimates for the next two lots, László Moholy-Nagy's Photogram with Pinwheel and Other Shapes (15) ($300,000–$500,000), at $773,000--using number 203--third place; and August Sander's Handlanger (16) ($350,000–$500,000), at $749,000--using number 206--fourth place. While about 70 lots an hour is often normal for a photo auction, it had already taken more than 40 minutes to get through these first 16 lots.
L0029 became the first phone bidder to claim a lot by winning Christian Schad's Schadograph (17) ($150,000–$250,000), for $185,000. But László Moholy-Nagy's Photogram with Postal Scale (18) ($300,000–$500,000) passed at a low $170,000.
Phone bidder L0042 went to $461,000, over high estimate, to sew up a large, early print of Herbert Bayer's Unmöglich (Self Portrait) (19) ($200,000–$300,000). This finished just a bit out of the top ten.
Hans Bellmer's Study of Die Puppe (20) ($80,000–$120,000) passed at only $47,500, as did Henri Cartier-Bresson's Cuba (21) ($100,000–$150,000) at $55,000, both especially surprising for prime vintage prints. There would have been after-sale offers on both lots if Sotheby's could have taken them, because they were both worth at least about five times what they bought in at.
Michael Mattis took a dip with Martin Munkácsi's Negerknaben in der Brandung Des Tahganyikasees (Boys in the Surf at Lake Tanganyika) (22) ($150,000–$250,000), for $197,000. Mattis exclaimed, "This is the photo that famously inspired Henri Cartier-Bresson to put down his paintbrushes and pick up the camera. It is the 'original story' for the Decisive Moment." And L0052 chugged away with Pierre Dubreuil's oil print. Puissance (23) ($150,000–$250,000), at the same price.
Bidder 219, a man with a phone in his ear, didn't hit the brakes as he went over estimate to $233,000 for Martin Munkácsi's Foreign Water (Motorcyclist, Budapest) (24) ($80,000–$120,000). California dealer Robert Koch must have used an iHOP discount coupon for Wanda Wulz's low-calorie Futurist Breakfast (25) ($70,000–$100,000), paying only $62,500. And phone bidder L0049 got a below estimate bargain for Imogen Cunningham's Snake in a Bucket (26) ($150,000–$250,000), at $112,500. (Maybe it would have done better if Samuel L. Jackson was in the cast.)
L0055 on the phone paid $37,500, well under estimate for Charles Nègre's Portrait De Chien (27) ($50,000–$70,000). Well, it is a small dog, although it went for about $58,000 in the Jammes Sale III in 2002. I wonder if any of the original underbidders (Daniel Blau, Michael Sachs and Leon Herschtritt) back then were bidding on it in this sale. And Jacques-Henri Lartigue's My Cat Zizi, Paris (28) ($30,000–$50,000) did not find a home at $17,000, even though it certainly had as much charm as Nora, The Piano Cat of YouTube fame.
Edwynn Houk had to go to $197,000, over estimate, to claim André Kertész's Nature Morte, Chez Mondrian--also known as Mondrian's Pipe and Glasses--(29) ($100,000–$150,000) from Bruce Silverstein. And Silverstein lost out on the next lot as Gabriel Catone using number 203 paid $161,000, under estimate, for Josef Sudek's Stone and Ceramic—Still Life in the Style of Navrátil (30) ($150,000–$250,000).
Not surprisingly, Hans Kraus bought Julia Margaret Cameron's Mrs. Herbert Duckworth (Julia Jackson) (31) ($70,000–$100,000) for $93,750. L0096 on the phone colonized Félix Teynard's Large Speos--Colossal Statue Seen from the Front, Abu Simbel (32) ($70,000–$100,000), under estimate at $75,000. Then Kraus won the next lot, Camille Silvy's The Emperors Ordre du Jour (33) ($70,000–$100,000), for $118,750, over Matthieu Humery of Christie's, who was consulting on his cell phone, and bidding for François Pinault. Humery went over estimate for Julia Margaret Cameron's No. 5 of series of Twelve Lifesized Heads (Kate Keown) (34) ($250,000–$350,000) at $461,000, again just out of the top ten, but Kraus returned again, hooking David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson's A Newhaven Fisherman (35) ($70,000–$100,000) over estimate at $155,000.
Phone bidder L0086 purchased August Sander's The Painter Anton Räderscheidt, Köln (36) ($150,000–$250,000), for $269,000.
Then a remarkable string of battles erupted leading to a series of very high prices.
Jeffrey Fraenkel waltzed off with Diane Arbus's National Junior Interstate Dance Champions of 1963, Yonkers, N. Y. (37) ($200,000–$300,000), over estimate at $377,000, and then held off Gabriel Catone after a fierce competition that required him to more than quadruple the high estimate for Walker Evans' Faces, Pennsylvania Town (Johnstown) (38) ($50,000–$70,000), at $389,000. Next Catone cradled a vintage print of Robert Frank's South Carolina (Charleston) (39) ($150,000–$250,000), well over estimate at $497,000, ninth place on the top ten list.
Dan Solomon, on his phone, had to almost triple the high estimate to carry home Eugène Atget's Corsets (Boulevard de Strasbourg) (40) ($100,000–$150,000) for $509,000, eighth place. Matthieu Humery made a play for the two Gustave Le Grays--The Pont du Carrousel Seen from the Pont Des Arts (Pont du Carrousel, Vu de Lest) (41) and The Pont du Carrousel Seen from the Pont Royal (Pont du Carrousel, Vu du Pont Royal) (42), both estimated at $150,000–$250,000. But a phone bidder, L0035, more than doubled the high estimate for each, claiming the first at $725,000, sixth place, and the second at $773,000, fifth place.
Phone bidder L0084 ascended Carleton E. Watkins's The Yosemite Falls, from Glacier Point, Yosemite ($150,000–$250,000), at $329,000, the seventh lot in a row to sell over estimate. L0055 on the phone was more persistent than Hans Kraus and cut down William Henry Fox Talbot's Elm Tree at Lacock (Winter) (44) ($80,000–$120,000), for $106,250. Then curator Keith Davis planted $75,000 for Albert Renger-Patzsch's Blutbuche (Blood Beech) (45) ($50,000–$70,000).
L0066 on the phone got another bargain, paying a below estimate $317,000 for Charles Sheeler's spectacular Abstract--Ford Plant (46) ($300,000–$500,000). Phone bidder L0042 marched off with Tina Modotti's Workers Parade (47) ($200,000–$300,000), at $485,000, tenth place.
Robert Burge got a tremendous bargain, paying only $257,000 for Edward Weston's Hands against Kimono (Tina Modotti) (48) ($350,000–$500,000), while phone bidder L0041 had to go well over high estimate to outbid Gabriel Catone at $653,000 for Edward Weston's Charis, Santa Monica (49) ($200,000–$300,000), seventh place. And then L0052 on the phone ended the evening sale by calling in an over estimate bid of $137,000 for Irving Penn's Girl (in Bed) on Telephone (50) ($60,000–$80,000).
Auctioning off the 50 lots amid competitive and sometimes fierce bidding took two hours--and buoyed an energized audience eager to return the next day.
And return many of them did, though not quite in the numbers of the previous evening. And upon returning they found Chris Mahoney at the auctioneer's podium as he took the first part of the day sale. (When he switched off with Denise Bethel there was a brief but very nice round of applause reflecting the respect and affection the audience has for both Chris and Denise.)
As there were a number of lower-priced lots in the day sale, I'll be reporting on a lower percentage of those offered. L0005 led off by scaling Ansel Adams's Half Dome--Yosemite (Half Dome, Cottonwood Trees) (51) ($40,000–$60,000), for $56,250. Jeffrey Fraenkel captured Edward Weston's Clouds (52) ($50,000–$70,000), for $81,250, over the underbid of his friend Peter MacGill. The two were rivals on several lots in this sale.
Alfred Stieglitz's Equivalent 77 (53) ($40,000–$60,000), sold well under estimate for $31,250 to Bruce Silverstein. Frederick Sommer's Grand Canyon (54) ($60,000–$90,000), also went under estimate for $59,375. An order bidder, L0059, went to $112,500, over high estimate, to outbid Gabriel Catone for Edward Weston's White Sands. N. Mexico (55) ($50,000–$80,000).
Martin Munkácsi's Silver White Satin Beach Costume (56) ($70,000–$100,000) passed at only $40,000. And Kevin Moore made a discounted call of $37,500 for Alfred Stieglitz's Equivalent (with Telephone Wires) (58) ($50,000–$80,000).
There was a premium toll of $100,000 for Edward Steichen's George Washington Bridge, New York (61) ($30,000–$50,000). But Jeffrey Fraenkel paid a rent-stabilized $137,000 for Alfred Stieglitz's New York from the Shelton (62) ($150,000–$250,000), maybe a bit surprising considering how well Stieglitz's other view went the night before.
Edwynn Houk elevated his bid to $197,000 for László Moholy-Nagy's Marseille, Rue Canebière (69) ($100,000–$150,000), in order to fend off the underbid of Bruce Silverstein. Then Houk lost out to phone bidder L0042 for László Moholy-Nagy's From the Radio Tower, Berlin (71) ($100,000–$150,000) at $341,000 after several others chased it earlier including Silverstein again and Alex Novak.
Jeffrey Fraenkel adopted Dora Maar's Garçon avec un Chat dans les Bras Appuyé Contre une Vitrine (73) ($15,000–$25,000), well over estimate at $50,000 and against the phones and Michael Mattis. Dora Maar's surreal Silence (75) ($50,000–$70,000) went to Internet bidder 3025 for $125,000. Gabriel Catone using number 203 bought Man Ray's Harry Melvill ($60,000–$80,000) under estimate for $68,750. Then 3025 returned for André Kertész's Behind Notre-Dame, Paris, October (77) ($80,000–$120,000), also under estimate at $62,500, and a steal.
Edwynn Houk outplayed Jeffrey Fraenkel for André Kertész's Quartet (79) ($100,000–$150,000), at $173,000. And L0005 paid $53,125, well under estimate and the only bid, for a 1950s print of Henri Cartier-Bresson's On the Banks of the Marne, France (Juvisy) (80) ($70,000–$100,000). But Brassaï's Chez Suzy (81) ($15,000–$25,000) seduced a bid of $50,000, well over the estimate from order bidder L0068. Houk, Fraenkel and the phone all pushed this one up.
Bill Brandt's Belgravia, London (Nude) (82) ($20,000–$30,000), more than doubled its high estimate at $87,500 going to a commission bid over several bidders in the room, including Peter MacGill. And Constantin Brancusi's Vu Datelier avec Polaire (84) ($50,000–$80,000), carved out a high bid of $197,000 from L0086 on the phone, while Margaret Bourke-White's Storage Tanks, I. G. Farben Chemical Co., Leuna, Germany (85) ($30,000–$50,000), percolated to $78,125 and went to a man on the aisle.
Grit Kallin-Fischer's Freddo (Alfredo Bortoluzzi) ($50,000–$80,000), is a wonderfully surreal and strange picture--maybe too strange for some--as L0049 on the phone grabbed it for only $37,500.
Internet bidder 3092, who was later revealed as Hendrik Berinson, held off Howard Greenberg to take Albert Renger-Patzsch's Cityscape, Essen (86) ($30,000–$50,000), at $68,750.
Peter MacGill, represented by one of his assistants, stood in for Edward Weston's M-G-M (89) ($40,000–$60,000) at a bargain price of $37,500.
Then private dealer Alex Novak claimed one of the steals of the sale--Hans Bellmer’s La Poupée (90) ($40,000–$60,000), with ten photographs--for only $31,250, which was well under the low estimate with premium of $50,000. The book has gone for much more and is the rare early edition from 1936.
Frederick Sommer's Duck Entrails, Chicken Heads (91) ($50,000–$70,000) passed at $22,500, no harm, no fowl. It's a picture from an important series, but certainly difficult. But phone bidder L0007 stood up for poultry, flying off with Etienne-Jules Marey's Vol de Héron (92) ($25,000–$35,000), at $87,500, double the high estimate. Underbidder Peter MacGill was for once left floundering around and grounded.
Alfred Stieglitz's Gossip--Katwyck (97) ($150,000–$250,000) fell to 229, a man in the room, at $112,500. L0096 on the phone also went under estimate for Edgar Degas's Pierre August Renoir and Stephane Mallarmé (98) ($100,000–$150,000) at $93,750. Then 229 was back for Frederick H. Evans's iconic Wells Cathedral's A Sea of Steps (To Chapter House) (99) ($100,000–$200,000) at $209,000, within the estimates, but probably a few people must have hoped or expected such a rare and famous print to go for a bit more, since it was not a record for the image. Hans Kraus underbid this one.
L0007 went over estimate to $60,000 outbidding Michael Mattis for Heinrich Kühn's wonderfully moody portrait of Edward Steichen (100) ($25,000–$35,000). Gabriel Catone using paddle 203 looped over a commission bidder for Karl Blossfeldt's Cucurbita (101) ($50,000–$70,000), over estimate at $100,000. 229 picked up another bargain, Baron Adolf De Meyer's Maria, a Study (104) ($150,000–$250,000), a print that had been exhibited in the renowned International Exhibition of Pictorial Photography held at the Albright Knox Gallery in Buffalo, New York, in 1910, well under estimate at $112,500. Edward Weston and Margrethe Mather's Carl Sandburg (105) ($50,000–$80,000) passed at $27,500. But 229 then set a record for Hiroma Kira, bidding $34,375 for his Paper Bird, which was well over the estimate ($7,000-10,000)
Benjamin Brecknell Turner's waxed-paper negative Hedgerow Trees, Clerkenleap, Worcestershire (114) ($20,000–$30,000), sold for more than three times the high estimate, $137,000, as L0084 on the phone outbid other phones, and Matthieu Humery (for Pinault) and Hans Kraus, who had sold this paper negative originally to Howard Stein.
Then another big lot passed, Horatio Ross's The Scottish Highlands (115) ($300,000–$500,000) at $170,000, only to be followed by Hans Kraus sailing off with Gustave Le Gray's La Vague Brisée, Mer Méditerranée Nº 15 (The Breaking Wave) (117) ($200,000–$300,000), for $245,000.
Matthieu Humery pruned Eugène Cuvelier's Bouquet de l'Empereur, Près de la Route à tBrique (118) ($25,000–$35,000) over estimate at $59,375, then L0055 on the phone cut down Gustave Le Gray's Beech Tree in the Forest of Fontainebleau (119) ($150,000–$250,000) under estimate at a very low $125,000, one of the truly bargain Le Gray's despite the chemical stain in the center of the print.
Hans Kraus then made the steep climb to claim the Bisson Freres's Le Mont Blanc Vu du Jardin de Talefre (121) for more than double the low estimate at $28,125. Hans Kraus also strolled off with Charles Nègre's Les Ramoneurs En Marche (122) ($100,000–$150,000), for a not insignificant $149,000. International collector, L0084, had to go to only to $59,375 for Linnaeus Tripe's album Photographic Views of Trichinopoly (123) ($70,000–$100,000). That's quite a bargain given the recent attention to Tripe, which the Met is featuring in an exhibit opening shortly.
Tom Gitterman made a play for another important volume, Francis Frith's Egypt, Sinai and Jerusalem: A Series of Twenty Photographic Views (126) ($150,000–$250,000), but L0081 on the phone got it at $293,000. Robert Koch was outbid for Josef Sudek's From the Series, The Window of My Studio (135) ($50,000–$70,000) by L0025 on the phone at $106,250, but won Frantisek Drtikol's Étude (136) ($50,000–$70,000), for $68,750.
Gabriel Catone tried to adopt Paul Strand's The Family, Luzzara, Italy (139) ($200,000–$300,000), but Jeffrey Fraenkel won out at $281,000. L0083 wrapped up Harry Callahan's Eleanor and Barbara, Chicago (142) ($40,000–$60,000), for $62,500. Then Callahan's Broken Windows and Fire Escape (Wells Street, Chicago) (143) ($60,000–$90,000), was repaired by bidder 297 for $137,000, well over estimate.
Peter MacGill rode off with Robert Frank's Indianapolis (148) ($40,000–$60,000), at $59,375. Phone bidder L0051 prevailed to take Garry Winogrand's portfolio Women Are Beautiful (156) ($60,000–$80,000), for a premium $125,000. And 297 also went over estimate for Lewis Baltz's Commercial Building, Pasadena (158) ($25,000–$35,000), at $53,125.
Contemporary work did relatively well, with more lots selling above estimate than below--and no lots bought in. L0044 on the phone bought a ticket for Cindy Sherman's Untitled Film Still #2 (161) ($100,000–$150,000) at $317,000. Jeffrey Fraenkel bought the nine prints of Bernd and Hilla Becher's Cooling Towers (Wood) (B) (162) ($120,000–$180,000) for $281,000.
L0093 went to the moon for Thomas Ruff's 17h 20m / -38° (164) ($60,000–$80,000) at $118,750. And L0003 trick-or-treated with William Eggleston's Outskirts of Morton, Mississippi, Halloween (165) ($50,000–$70,000) at $106,250.
L0078 on the phone bought a ticket for Thomas Struth's Uffizi I, Florence (166) ($100,000–$150,000) for $75,000. And finally order bidder L0070 ponied up $50,000 for Vik Muniz's mammoth Orestes Pursued by the Furies, after Bouguereau (from the series Pictures of Junk) (175) ($25,000–$35,000).
A nice round of applause greeted the end of the auction and those few who stayed around for a few minutes after the auction were offered glasses of champagne to celebrate with Denise, Chris, and other Sotheby's staffers.
Also, it seemed clear there was interest immediately after the sale in some of the lots that bought-in, but the Foundation decided that the sale was already so successful that it would keep all the images that bought in. A lot of after-sale bottom fishers were highly disappointed.
Denise Bethel, Chairman, Sotheby's Photographs, Americas, commented: "This record-breaking sale has been a celebration of photography--the most profound, inventive, and beautiful artistic medium of our time. The masterpieces in the auction spanned the mid-nineteenth century to the present day and featured the extraordinary talents that have always characterized the very best photographers. It is therefore entirely fitting that the proceeds will be used for the innovative educational work of Joy of Giving Something Foundation. Throughout my 25 years at Sotheby's, we have handled the most significant single-owner sales of photographs to come to auction, whether from museums, corporations, or private collectors. The collection put together by Howard Stein was unprecedented in its scale, scope, and ambition, and now 175 Masterworks To Celebrate 175 Years of Photography: Property from Joy of Giving Something Foundation takes its place at the pinnacle of photographs sales."
Christopher Mahoney, Head of Sotheby's Photographs Department, said: "The extraordinary prices for so many diverse works and a total of $21.3 million in the 175 Masterworks To Celebrate 175 Years of Photography: Property from Joy of Giving Something Foundation are resounding signs that the market for classic photographs has never been stronger. With eight prices over $500,000 and numerous records set, the auction demonstrated the enormous appetite among a broad base of collectors for top-tier photographs from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Both of our top lots--Alvin Langdon Coburn's Shadows and Reflections, Venice, from 1905, and the 1931 Evening, New York from The Shelton, by Alfred Stieglitz--were sought by numerous collectors before two determined bidders drove prices to multiples of the high estimates. Both pieces are now among the most expensive photographs ever sold at auction, along with other works in the sale by artists such as Moholy-Nagy, Gustave Le Gray and August Sander."
My thanks to Steve Perloff and The Photograph Collector Newsletter for giving me permission to use this information. The Photograph Collector, which is a wonderful newsletter that I can heartily recommend, is published monthly and is available by subscription for $149.95. You can phone 1-215-891-0214 and charge your subscription or send a check or money order to: The Photograph Collector, 140 East Richardson Ave, Langhorne, PA 19047. Or to order The Photograph Collector Newsletter online, go to: http://www.photoreview.org/wordpressindex/shop/.