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Current News             Issue Archive             Article Archive E-Photo Newsletter   Issue 98   11/30/2005

AIPAD Photography Show Moves to 7th Regiment Armory

The Photography Show, which is run by the Association of International Photography Art Dealers (AIPAD), has moved to the 7th Regiment Armory, Park Ave. at 67th St., New York City and will run from February 9-12, 2006.

The new venue will allow AIPAD to expand the average booth size dramatically and keep the show all on one level in a more prestigious location. A number of AIPAD dealers who have not exhibited in the recent past, particularly contemporary art photography dealers who had a need for more space, will now be showing at this revamped event. Eighty-two international photography dealers and galleries will exhibit contemporary art photography and 19th and 20th-century vintage material.

Robert Klein, president of the organization, said, "I'm pleased that I am able to announce the move to the Armory as an affirmation of AIPAD's founding role in defining the market for fine art photographs."

Other changes in the 26th running of this show include going back to a four-day schedule from the previous five-day version. The show will kick off February 9, Thursday night from 6-8 p.m. with a benefit reception/opening for Inwood House, an organization that helps troubled teenagers. For details, contact AIPAD headquarters at 1-202-986-0105.

Regular hours for the show are the following: February 10-11, Friday and Saturday, from 12 noon till 7 p.m.; Sunday from12 noon till 6 p.m. The ticket price is $30 three-day pass or $20 per day. The price of admission includes an exceptional catalogue.

Additional information about The Photography Show 2006 can be found at the newly redesigned AIPAD website at http://www.AIPAD.com .

Christie's London Sets Helmut Newton Record, But Only Sells 67% of Lots

Christie's London had the dubious position of following on closely to the New York sales and having to run early to prevent an overlap with its sale in Paris this time around. As a consequence of that plus a real lack of quality material, the house only sold 672,560 pounds sterling (a little under $1.2 million) and 67% of the 94 lots offered here. But that is actually fairly typical of the Fall auctions here.

On this auction I will report on items that sold for over the equivalent of $20,000, including the buyer's premium. The pound was at $1.77 during the sale.

Christie's had secured a group of uncut and, in some cases, undocumented Egyptian and Nubian images by Felix Teynard from a French collector. These rare 19-century images led off the auction. Unfortunately many were in very poor condition and/or not particularly interesting images, and were bought-in. Most of the ones that were the exception sold, but at or below the low estimate.

Michael Sachs bought lot 6, "Colossi" for under the low estimate at 21,600 pounds sterling (a little over $38,200) for the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. The price put the lot into sixth place in this sale's top ten most expensive lots. Sachs also bought the companion piece to this image in the published format from New York dealer Hans Kraus, Jr. On lot 7, Teynard's "Large Speos", a U.S. collector had to go to the midpoint in the range to take home this beautiful print at 30,000 pounds (about $53,000). That set a world's auction record for an individual print by this artist--although several images have sold privately for more. It also placed the print at number three in the top ten.

After the first of two Man Ray rayographs bought-in, the second managed to get to its reserve of 36,000 pounds (about $64,000) thanks to the bidding of an American collector. That was sufficient to move the lot into second place in this auction's top ten. Neither of the rayographs was particularly attractive and condition was just so-so.

Ansel Adams' "Clearing Winter Storm, Yosemite" (lot 34) got its share of attention and went to a U.S. dealer for 22,800 pounds (just over $40,000). The image had sold at Christie's New York for $57,600 just two weeks before, so this was a decent price, even though it was virtually at the top of the estimate range here. The price boosted it into fifth place on the top ten list.

A U.S. collector pushed lot 38, Lee Friedlander's self portrait "Wilmington, DE" well over its estimate range. Estimated at a tempting 10,000-15,000 pounds, the image flew to 28,800 pounds (about $51,000). That also made the lot the fourth highest of the day. The next lot, an unsigned Friedlander of "Atlanta, 1962" also sold to this U.S. collector for 15,600 pounds (just under $28,000), which placed it in a tie for eighth place.

Horst did well in this sale: all his lots sold and sold very well. Lot 62, "Nude Study of Lisa Fonssagrives, NY" printed later, sold for 11,400 pounds (about $20,000), just over the high estimate. And lot 64, "Nude Study of Lisa Fonssagrives, NY" in a vintage print, did even better at 18,000 pounds (nearly $32,000), selling to a U.K. collector. Estimated at 8,000-10,000 pounds, the lot did well enough to place seventh on the top ten list. Lot 65, a printed later "Black Bodice, Fashion Shot", sold at the high estimate at 10,800 pounds (just over $19,000).

Helmut Newton's "Big Nude III" was the big lot of the sale in more ways than one. Perhaps images such as this one have now replaced, or been bought in addition to, that midlife crisis red convertible sports car. All the buyers that I have seen to date on this type of material are middle-aged white guys who don't look like James Bond. Maybe this U.K. collector was different, but Helmut Newton and his ilk appear to have replaced Penthouse and Playboy centerfolds on the wall in an acceptable fashion. The question remains: Is this really art? Or is it just a newly acceptable form of sexism and sexual possession by proxy? Why are photography critics and curators so reluctant to tackle this subject? In any case, this life-size "blow-up doll", estimated at 80,000-120,000 pounds sterling, soared to a new world auction record for the photographer of 176,000 pounds (a little over $311,000). This was, of course, the top lot of the day here.

Newton's other images had mixed results (several lots, including his portfolio, bought-in), although they did better when they were in a state of undress. Lot 69 (not quite appropriately numbered, but almost), his "Mannequins quai d'Orsay II" (two models--one nude--kissing each other), sold to a European collector in the estimate range for 15,600 pounds (nearly $28,000). That tied Friedlander's "Atlanta" for eighth place in Christie's top ten. Lot 70, "Givenchy & Bulgari, French Vogue" (a model having her bodice adjusted by a man), sold to a European collector in the estimate range for 13,200 pounds (just over $23,000). That was enough to edge it into the tenth spot among the highest prices paid at this auction.

Robert Mapplethorpe's nude images of Lisa Lyon (lots 77 and 78) sold for more than double the high estimate at 10,200 (over $18,000) and 11,400 pounds (over $20,000) respectively.

Lot 82, Peter Lindberg's group of models for Vogue taken in Brooklyn, soared to more than double its high estimate at 10,200 pounds (over $18,000). And someone will have to tell me why Patrick Demarchelier's work is worth nearly $18,500--well over its presale estimates--for a mediocre portrait of a black sweatered model (lot 86). If I didn't know better, I would swear there might be a little manipulation going on here.

The bidders on Shirin Neshat's "I Am Its Secret" (lot 92) must have mistaken this color copy of the unique work for the real thing, as they bid up (from an estimate of 2,000-3,000 pounds) the work to 10,800 pounds (or just over $19,000).

And, finally, Susan Derges' large-scale color work, "The River Taw (Oak), sold for over the estimate at 12,000 pounds, or about $21,000.

Sotheby's London Sells About $1.1 Million and 72.2% By Lot

Sotheby's London's November 15th sale virtually matched the results of its competitor's earlier auction at just under $1.1 million, but did just a bit better on the sell-through numbers--over 5% better in fact--at 72.2%. Still the numbers were not stunning, but were in line with a typical fall London auction. All the numbers below include buyer's premiums.

Like its counterpart in South Ken, Sotheby's too had its Helmut Newton big nude (this time Verina, Nice, Big Nude XI, lot 114). While it didn't break the record set just two weeks before at the Christie's London auction, it still brought in over $177,000 (102,000 pounds sterling), which made it the top lot of this sale as well. Again, it sold to a private U.K. buyer--perhaps the same buyer as at Christie's. If that was the case, now he might have a matching set, so to speak. I have already had my small tirade about this type of image and its market value in the Christie's London auction story above, so I will leave it at that, except to say that $30,000+ per foot is still a lot to pay for a cardboard doll. And what goes up sometimes does go down.

Unlike New York, there just were not a lot of expensive images selling here in London, so I will give you the rest of the Top Ten list at Sotheby's, which just cleared the bar of 10,000 pounds for No.10, including the premium, which is less than $18,000. Remember I had to use $45,000 as my cut-off on my earlier coverage of the New York fall auctions, and even then the stories were extremely long.

Man Ray's later-printed, but still scarce, Le Violon d'Ingres, sold for a rather astounding 78,000 pounds (a little over $135,000) to a collector--astounding because of its less-than-perfect condition, prior restoration work and indistinct pencil signature. It was still number two on the Top Ten list of this auction. Other copies of this image have sold for $200,000 privately. Man Ray dealer Michael Senft told me, "To keep you up to date on the Kiki de Montparnasse market: I am currently offering a different and more rare, printed-later Violon d'Ingres. This one, which Man Ray made five years earlier (1965) and also signed, is from an edition of only three. However, it is a large rare collage--Man Ray stretched four wool strings vertically down Kiki's back to create a most spectacular impression. It will sell for over $300,000."

Robert Mapplethorpe dominated the list of this auction's Top Ten and soared over most of his reserves. After New York and London, it looks like Mapplethorpe is undergoing his third resurrection and increase in pricing and interest. Lot 99, the portrait of Andy Warhol, went to a European collector for 18,000 pounds (just over $31,271) against an estimate of 6,000-8,000 pounds. It was sixth on the list. Lot 100, another image of Warhol, sold to a U.K. dealer for 19,200 pounds (just over $33,000) against an estimate of 5,000-7,000 pounds. It made fifth place. Lot 101, Hyacinth, a photogravure flower, sold for 12,000 pounds (nearly $21,000) to a European collector, against an estimate of 7,000-9,000 pounds. It tied for seventh place. And, finally, Mapplethorpe's Apollo, the catalogue cover image (lot 102) in an edition of two, sold to a U.S. dealer under the low estimate at 36,000 pounds (about $62,500). That last price put this piece into third place in the Top Ten of the sale.

One print that I was personally fascinated with was a large-scale cyanotype by Francesca Woodman of a caryatid figure (lot 106). It sold at the low end of its very reasonable range at 30,000 pounds (just over $52,000) to a collector. That was still good enough for fourth place.

A museum purchased Julia M. Cameron's unrecorded variant of St. Agnes (Alice Liddell) (lot 169) at its low estimate for 12,000 pounds (about $21,000). This made the print the only 19th-century work here to crack the Top Ten in a tie for seventh place. It is getting difficult to find quality 19th-century pieces, and the few new pieces that do come on the market are now being auctioned off in Continental Europe or sold by private dealers.

Bill Brandt's oversized (and possibly printed in 1940 for exhibition) "An Ascot Grandstand" (lot 20) sold for over its high estimate at 10,800 pounds (about $19,000) to a U.S. dealer. That just pushed it into ninth place.

Finally, in tenth place, a set of photographs by Bettina Rheims (Chambre Close, lot 134) sold to a European collector for 10,200 pounds (nearly $18,000) against an estimate of only 2,000-3,000 pounds.

I asked Sotheby's expert Juliet Hacking for a few of her observations about the sale and she was very forthright with those comments, which follow.

"We are all delighted that, in recent years, we have seen some remarkable jumps in the figures achieved in certain sectors of the market (e.g. fashion, early 20th-century U.S. vintage, Mapplethorpe). It is no secret that works such as the 'Big Nude XI' by Newton were on sale commercially just ten years ago at figures much lower than that for which they are currently selling at auction.

"We are also delighted that there is more and more crossover between the markets for Contemporary Art and for Photographs. Subscribers will have noticed that our catalogue began for the first time with the 20th century and ended with the 19th, rather than the other way round. This is not, as some have suggested, evidence of a lessening commitment to 19th-century photography. Instead it is an acknowledgement that Contemporary Art is the dominant art form at the current time and an engagement with any earlier works will be filtered through our expectations of, and responses to, the works of leading contemporary artists.

"The increasingly high prices paid for certain photographs is, in general, great news for vendors, collectors and the market. However, when financial speculation enters the photography arena, there are many more vested interests and therefore many more pitfalls for the uninitiated. At Sotheby's we are committed to doing what we do best, which is to give vendors and buyers the best possible specialist advice and to therefore ensure that they do not get their fingers burned."

I found it particularly interesting that Juliet made the last statement. And I feel she really does mean it. It is just hard to reconcile it with the overly high prices on some items achieved at auction and not elsewhere. Of course, clients can make up their own minds to overpay and apparently often do. And I beg to differ with her that we need to filter our perceptions about work through a contemporary eye, rather than the contrary: that art history informs our view of the contemporary. But there is no doubt that the auction market is a changin'.

Europe Prepares For New Charges On Art and Photography Sales, as Droit De Suite Directive Goes Into Effect January 1, 2006

Leave it to politicians to screw up a market they do not understand. In what is known ironically as a "harmonizing" effort, the European Union in its eminent wisdom has directed all of its members to begin collecting "Droit de Suite" charges from photography and art galleries, auctions and dealers beginning this January. The charges are fees on the resale of any artwork, including photography, which serve as a commission that is supposed to eventually go to the artist or their estate--although, in fact, very little will actually reach that source, especially for new artists.

While the final details are still being polished, including how this will be implemented in the U.K. where the Blair government is fighting for a postponement until next June, it is expected that this fee will need to be added to all European sales above 3000 euros, or to sales where the seller has acquired the work directly from the artist and resells within three years for less than 10,000 euros. These fees will initially be charged only on works by living artists. Between 2010 and 2012, the Droit de Suite is scheduled to be charged on works by both living artists, as well as those who died within the last 70 years, with payments made to the artist's estate on the latter. Like the copyright laws that this new law is tied to, you can probably expect that 70-year period to expand as time goes by. But you can also expect the British government to postpone this expansion until the latter date of 2012.

According to the EU preferred definition, the Droit de Suite covers 'original work of art', identified as "works of graphic or plastic art such as pictures, collages, paintings, drawings, engravings, prints, lithographs, sculptures, tapestries, ceramics, glassware and photographs, provided they are made by the artist himself or are copies considered to be original works of art."

The proposed schedule of levies is as follows: between 3,000-50,000 euros, 4%; between 50,000-200,000, 3%; between 200,000-350,000, 1%; between 350,000-500,000, 0.5%; and above 500,000, .25%. There will be a maximum charge of 12,500 euros per transaction, so effectively the charge stops at two million euros--not that it matters to the photography market, which has not yet seen an individual photograph sell at that level.

My thanks to Sotheby's (London) Juliet Hacking for much of this information. The editorial comments and/or any possible mistakes, however, are all my own.

Clearly though auction houses, dealers, galleries, and art and photography show managements are concerned about how this will impact their marketplace. This is basically another tax that makes European sources that much more expensive compared to other countries, such as the U.S. or Canada. Will it also make American and European buyers more reluctant to buy and sell there, preferring the American market? Will buyers be more reluctant to buy European artists because of this double (and more) dipping by artists and their extended families? Will it affect buyer's perceptions of those artists? If the artist has left no estate, do these funds go into the national treasuries? Will these charges drive the market even more underground than it currently is in Europe, avoiding not only the droit but other taxes as well? Will this hurt the European job market, as galleries, auctions and dealers there begin to lay off people as their business drops off? There are lots of interesting but unanswered questions here. This doesn't seem to help anyone--buyer, seller or even artist.

Interestingly enough, most sources of information on the droit de suite indicate that the pressure to introduce the resale levy came primarily from the agencies that exist to collect and manage it. No conflict of interest there! And it is those agencies and only the top well established artists and their estates that this will benefit. Younger or up-and-coming artists will most likely be hurt by the higher prices imposed on their work and will likely never see much, if anything, of the moneys collected.

In addition, the costs of collecting the droit in Europe appear to vary between 10% and 40% of the royalties collected. France reportedly deducts administration costs of 20%. But then we all know how efficient governments are.

Could pressure on the Bush administration lead to such tax on the art business in the U.S.? Maybe, although the Republicans have enough problems on their hands now. There already is a form of droit de suite in California, but it does not yet affect photography. It has affected the art market there, according to several sources--all negatively.

But it would not be out of line for art and photography dealer organizations to start to educate federal legislators now, if we don't want to see this implemented in the U.S.

Major Redesign of I Photo Central Website Announced

The major redesign of the I Photo Central site is finally here. While the site looks considerably different, it still functions much the same as before.

Award-winning designer Eva Stoermer and programmer/data base expert Stephen Toth have been working diligently to bring this new design together.

Even more changes and additions are still in the works, and I will keep our readers posted on these updates to the website as they are added.

I Photo Central is the largest, most visited website on photography collecting on the Internet. We hope you will make the trip to the site soon. To help you get there, all you need to do is click on: http://www.iphotocentral.com .

I Photo Central End-of-Year Sale Has Only a Month to Go

The special End-of-the-Year Holiday sale on I Photo Central is fast coming to a close with just a little more than a month remaining. The sale is brought to you by all six of the website's photography dealers. Over 1,500 images are in the sale. These items are available at special sale prices (from 20 to over 60% off the regular list price) for only a limited time, from now until December 31st. These are all final prices, so no other discounts apply. Shipping/insurance may also be added, and you will be responsible for any customs duty, sales or value-added tax.

There are some great deals, so check them out soon at: http://www.iphotocentral.com/sale/sale.php .

If you want to do further sorts on the sale list, you can go to the Search Images page at http://www.iphotocentral.com/search/search.php and put EndofYearHolidaySale1 into the key word field. Then you can also use the other search fields, such as price range, country, date range, etc. When you have all your choices made, simply hit the Search button (not the Show All Images button). When you put in the key word, you must have the capital letters in properly and no space between the words or the number "1". Also make sure you do not have any extra space after the key word. This way if you are bargain hunting, you can put in a range from $1 to $500, or if you want to focus on the top end, just put in a range from $1000 (or $5000) to No Limit.