Issue #51  11/27/2002
Berenice Abbott Sale Also Does Well At Sotheby's

After lunch the crowds returned for a tight sale of 84 lots of vintage Berenice Abbott prints that were duplicates from the collection of the Museum of the City of New York. Vintage Abbotts are not that rare--and later Abbotts are downright prolific--but there were some beautiful prints here and the provenance was pristine. While the buy-in rate was slightly higher than that for the MoMA sale--24%--if anything the Abbott sale was even stronger. Only 13 lots went below the low estimate while 28 went above the high estimate. Yes, this is not surprising since the estimates for many lots did seem rather low. But then again 10 of those 28 lots sold substantially above their high estimates.

Canyon, Broadway and Exchange Place ($10,000-$15,000) brought $52,580 from a phone bidder. "El" Second and Third Avenue Lines, the cover lot, went to a different phone bidder for $16,730. Charles Isaacs took home the Blossom Restaurant ($7,000-$10,000) for $22,705. Fifth Avenue Bus, Washington Square, Manhattan ($5,000-$7,000) was driven away by Thea Westreich's Art Advisory Services for $16,730.

The most famous image being offered, the Flatiron Building ($20,000-$30,000), soared to $54,970, the highest price of the afternoon, again to Westreich. Collector David Runtz caught the Greyhound Bus Terminal ($5,000-$7,000--admittedly underestimated) for $15, 535. Galerie zur Stockeregg, bidding on the phone, prevailed over Abbott dealer Ronald Kurz to take a lot of two images--Murray Hill Hotel and 112 Park Avenue ($5,000-$8,000)--for $20,315. Kurz did buy four lots and underbid seven others.

Herald Square, also underestimated at $4,000-$6,000, went to a phone bidder, L011, for $14,340. Howard Greenberg gobbled up the Automat ($5,000-$7,000) for $16,730. Carol Ehlers was the winning bidder on the Church of God, 25 East 132nd Street ($5,000-$8,000), also at $16,730. A phone bidder outlasted Ronald Kurz for two Manhattan industrial views ($4,000-$6,000), bidding $14,340. Also Manhattan Bridge, which went to a phone bidder for $20,315, and Tempo of the City, which was hammered down to Thea Westreich for $16,730, both sold over their high estimates.

The total of $669,499 was a nice chunk of change for the Museum.