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Current News             Issue Archive             Article Archive E-Photo Newsletter   Issue 66   1/6/2004

Photo LA Coming Up Next Week: a Preview and a Discount For Our Readers

Photo LA 2004, the 13th annual Los Angeles Photographic Art Exposition will be held January 15-18, 2004 at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, 1855 Main St., Santa Monica, CA.

Eighty galleries and private dealers from across the country and around the globe will participate in the largest and longest running photographic art exhibition in the West.

The photographic art, from the earliest 19th-century photographic experiments to the contemporary photography and photo-based art, will be exhibited for sale. Vintage Works, Ltd., one of our companies, will be exhibiting at the show and we will be bringing numerous masterworks. Look for us in booth 30. If we are slow in answering your email, this show will be the reason why. I Photo Central member Gallerie Hypnos will join us in the booth to add an international flavor. Another I Photo Central member, Lee Gallery, will also be exhibiting at the show.

Last year's event saw record attendance, attracting over 6000 visitors, and more are expected this year. Organizer Steve Cohen tells me that ticket sales for the preview this year are nearly ten times what they were last year, and that other pre-event ticket sales are running about twice as much. The photo market is back and this is a great opportunity to see what is available.

The opening night reception will take place on Thursday, January 15, 2004, from 6 to 9 pm and will be hosted by Viggo Mortensen. The proceeds will benefit the Photography Department of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Tickets to the gala celebration are fifty dollars and may be purchased at the door on the evening of the event or through LACMA. To place ticket orders please call 932-5846.

Seminars and lecture panels will be held Friday, January 16-18. Seminar panelists include: Keith F. Davis, curator of the Hallmark Collection, Anne Tucker, curator of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and Doug Nickel, Director of the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson.

Guest speakers include acclaimed photographers: Joel Peter-Witkin, whose compelling images are noted for their complex juxtaposition of beauty and oddity; Susan Meiselas, award-winning documentary photographer working on projects in India, Chile, Nicaragua, and El Salvador; Steve McCurry, recipient of numerous awards for his evocative color images of international and civil conflict; Lynn Geesaman, whose dramatic images of public and private gardens worldwide are highly recognized for their unique printing technique and are the subject of a new monograph being published by Aperture; and Sally Gall, best-known for her ethereal black and white photographs from her travels to the most remote places around the globe.

Seminars are conducted at 9 am before the show's public hours, and are limited to thirty people. Reservations are required. Please call for a schedule of events. Tickets are $65 per seminar and include a three-day pass to Photo LA.

Exhibition hours are Friday, January 16th and Saturday, January 17th, noon to 7 pm, and Sunday, January 18th, noon to 6 pm. Tickets are $15 for a one-day pass and $25 for a three-day pass and can be purchased at the door or through the Stephen Cohen Gallery. Readers of this newsletter can take $5 off of the one-day ticket, or $8 off of the three-day ticket by showing this page at the ticket booth.

For further information contact Stephen Cohen Gallery, 7358 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036, phone: 323-937-5525 or visit the website at www.photola.com .

Phillips Breaks Over $3 Million On Regular Fall Sale to Net $4.5 Million For Its Three-Day Total

Auction coverage provided by Stephen Perloff, editor of the Photograph Collector Newsletter, and Alex Novak, Vintage Works, Ltd.

Phillips regular multi-owner evening sale on October 17 seemed to be missing a few of the swells who would appear out of nowhere at their 57th Street location, but nonetheless a packed house greeted some of the most exciting material of the season. All the prices below include the buyer's premium.

Phillips sale started off on a high note, setting a world's auction record for German contemporary photographer Elger Esser at $21,510, even though this was just at the low point of the estimate range. A phone bidder took home lot 1, a dyptic of Chattressac, France.

NY dealer Edwynn Houk, who usually bids mostly on 20th-century pieces, took home a decent mammoth plate of Mirror View of the North Dome, Yosemite by Carleton Watkins for well over the high estimate at $20,315.

A phone bidder took Edward Weston's Clouds at the low estimate, $29,875. Collector Sondra Gilman adopted Alexander Rodchenko's Mother for $31,070. Rodchenko's Pine Trees in Puschking ($8,000-$12,000) then soared to $33,460 as two phone bidders battled it out.

Robert Mapplethorpe's Calla Lily ($10,000-$15,000) flowered in the room at $45,410, then his Fish and Flag both brought $27,485 from two different phone bidders. Vera Lutter's Rockefeller Center West III edged above its high estimate at $50,190, another world auction record and seventh highest price of the two-day sale.

Then came the much-anticipated William Eggleston Tricycle, titled Memphis. Given the rise in Eggleston prices the $90,000-$120,000 estimate seemed likely and a record price possible. I suppose one could find slightly more refined transportation than a tricycle at this price level, but the toy proved to be turbocharged as in zoomed up to Maserati price levels. In the end Santa Monica gallerist Rose Shoshana watched the prize drive off in the hands of a phone bidder at a world auction record for the artist of $207,500--about $60,000 more than two Tricycles that sold just a year ago (here at Phillips and in a private sale by Howard Greenberg). Only 20 years ago you could have bought one for under $2,000.

Normally, this record price would make any auction house's evening, and indeed, the $35,850 New York dealer Yancey Richardson paid for Eggleston's Southern Suite ($12,000-$18,000) and the disappointing pass at $38,000 on Walker Evans's Havana Kitchen ($50,000-$70,000) were muted by the buzz on Memphis.

Sondra Gilman took the now hot Louis Faurer's 52nd St. Pier Looking toward United Nations Building, NY away from a phone bidder for $21,510.

And even more good material followed. San Francisco dealer Robert Koch snared Robert Frank's London--two men in top hats and furled umbrellas walking away from the camera--for $33,460, over the high estimate. Frank's Political Rally--Chicago filled the party's coffers to the tune of $50,190 (eighth place), and a problematic print of Frank's City Fathers--Hoboken, New Jersey still managed to bring $41,825 from a woman in the room. Dealer Edwynn Houk then took Frank's Denver (Richard and Pat Nixon) for $20,315.

Cindy Sherman's Untitled Film Still #23 ($100,000-$150,000) was a box office bust as it passed at $75,000. But a run of important Diane Arbus material followed.

Rick Wester bid $25,095 for Diane Arbus's Girl with a Beehive Hairdo, N.Y.C., just under low estimate. And a phone bidder captured Arbus's Girl in a Watchcap, N.Y.C. for $68,115, over the high estimate (sixth place).

A particularly fine copy of Arbus's much anticipated A Box of Ten Photographs followed and the room collectively moved to the edges of their seats. No one expected the estimate of $90,000-$120,000 to hold. A copy sold at Christie's for $90,500 back in 1999, well before the current Arbus run-up. Bidding was at an absolute frenzy, like barracudas roiling the waters, as many new bidders jumped in at lower levels. Paul Kopeikin finally dropped out at $210,000. When the bidding reached $250,000 Jeffrey Fraenkel yelled out "$300,000!" in an attempt to trump the field. It did not work. Rose Shoshana finally forced Fraenkel to surrender with a bid of $350,000. The spent crowd watched in stunned anticipation as auctioneer Simon de Pury's gavel was about to hit the table to complete the sale. But NO! One more paddle was raised at the last second. Shoshana was frozen like a batter whose knees were buckled by a sharp breaking curveball. SOLD! for $360,000--$405,500 with premium. The winner was Natica Wilson of Gagosian Gallery bidding for a client. For the record, Shoshana and Fraenkel were also bidding for clients. And, yes, this was a world record for the artist at auction, although admittedly for a group of images.

But there was no rest. Two more Arbuses sold over high estimate. Xmas Tree in a Living Room, Levittown, L.I. went to the phone for $147,000, the third highest price of the sale, and Fraenkel came back to fulfill his fantasy as he took A Castle in Disneyland, CA. for $95,600--fourth highest price in the sale.

The evening ended as the phones came back to take Francesca Woodman's Self-Deceit, Rome for $83,650 (fifth place) and Irving Penn's Twelve of the Most Photographed Models of the Period for $31,070. Pictures by Nan Goldin, Matthew Barney and Pierre et Gilles all passed.

Phillips' sale the next morning was bound to be a bit quieter, but it had its moments.

The first lot, (#60, Josef Albers's Bruno & Schifra Caneresi, Ascona, VIII) set a world record for the artist at $21, 510. A phone bidder took the image. The money from the image will reportedly be donated by the collectors who owned the image to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, according to a report in the New York Times.

Arbus's Circus Fat Lady and Her Dog, Troubles were taken in by a commission bidder at the low estimate, $23,900. Dorothea Lange's Damaged Child went just under the low estimate, but still real money at $65,725. Robert Frank's portrait of his son Pablo doubled its low estimate at $47,800. They went to the phones, too.

Lee Marks almost doubled the high estimate in buying Harry Callahan's Eleanor and Barbara, Chicago, for $33,460. Then a single phone bidder bought Andre Kertesz's Distortion at the low estimate, apparently the reserve, for $23,900. But the Stieglitz nude of Georgia Engelhard ($150,000-$200,000) passed. It was not signed and it was printed a bit later (circa 1940s and on later archival board), but it was a very nice print. It bought in at a more reasonable, but still a bit reaching $100,000.

Rose Shoshana came back to take Lee Miller's Self-Portrait at a premium of $33,460 and Deborah Bell followed by bidding $31,070 for August Sander's Portrait of Otto Dix. Chuck Close's Polaroid Self-Portrait (Diptych) went at the low estimate (and apparently the reserve again) of $47,800 to a single phone.

After the lunch break, a group of photographs from the Enron Collection, sold without reserve, did fairly well. Julie Moos's Hat Ladies flipped its lid when it sold over high estimate to Carol Ehlers of La Salle Bank for $43,020 (a world auction record for the artist--given that this was her first appearance at auction). Vik Muniz's After Van Gogh fetched $29,875, but his contemporary imitations did even better: After Mark Rothko at $32,265, Chuck [Close, that is] at $44,215, and the most important of the series, After Gerhard Richter at $54,970.

Phillips claimed another world auction record for an artist when Allen Ginsberg's Fifteen Portraits sold for $16,133 to Howard Greenberg. And Shirin Neshat's Speechless (the smaller print in an edition of 10) sold for just over the high estimate at $15,535 to a phone bidder.

There were not a lot of fireworks the rest of the way. Alice Ross George took Frank's Charleston, South Carolina (the black nurse and white baby) for $38,240, but that was about it.

In the end, Phillips had a strong sale: $3,115,704 on a buy-in rate of 35%. With the $1,383,595 for the Joshua P. Smith Collection, the three-day total was a hefty $4.5 million.

"The record prices reinforce the significance of these artists," said Joshua Holdeman, Director of Photographs at Phillips, de Pury & Luxembourg. "Eggleston's 'Memphis (Tricycle)' represents the very moment color photographs entered the canon and with the emerging interest in the complex works of Diane Arbus, it is not surprising that such rare, high quality photographs would inspire such fierce bidding. The enthusiastic competition was not only for works by Arbus, Eggleston, but also for those by Louis Faurer, Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander and others, indicating that the demand for post-war American Photography only continues to grow."

Christie's Multi-Owner Sale Breaks Over $2.8 Million With a Buy-in Rate of Only 24%

Christie's sale on October 20 continued the trend of strong Fall auction results with a sale total of $2,830,320 and a buy-in rate of only 24%. The salesroom was crowded, but somewhat quiet as a couple of the top items appeared toward the beginning of the sale.

Edwynn Houk made his reservation ahead of Howard Greenberg as he rented lot 12, Walker Evans's New Orleans Boarding House for $31,070.

Two lots later, a rare early print of Evans's iconic Penny Picture Display not only provided a hefty return on the $2.25 it would have cost in 1936 for the 225 portraits displayed in the studio window, it soared over the high estimate to set a new world auction record for the artist. The bidding began in dramatic fashion as Rick Wester scurried into the room just in time for the lot and began waving his number while consulting on his cell phone even before he could get his coat off. But he was eventually overtaken by Lee Marks, who often bids on top items like this for former Dreyfuss head Howard Stein. But in the end it was Edwynn Houk who went home with what became the top lot of the sale at $197,700.

A small run of Curtises sold mostly within estimate, including $22,705 for an orotone of Canyon de Chelley, which went to a phone bidder. An 1845 quarter-plate daguerreotype of painter Thomas Cole was the subject of intense interest from the phones and Michael Lehr, among others. It eventually went to an American institution on the phone, rumored to be the Hallmark Collection, for $71,700 over the bid of Charles Isaacs, three times its high estimate (and eighth place on the day). Other bidders on this lot included dealers Hans Kraus, Jr., Janet Lehr and Paul Hertzmann.

The next lot (#25, a man with a shovel smoking a pipe) was also a daguerreotype and it was withdrawn. And there lies a tale. In San Francisco, several of us were shown another similar daguerreotype of a clown being offered for sale through Butterfield's at its Fall auction. I spotted it as a fake, and dag dealers William Schaeffer and Christopher Wahren, along with curator Keith Davis of Hallmark all concurred after I showed them some specific traits. After this discovery, both Wahren and Schaeffer became suspicious of two other daguerreotypes being offered at the Fall auctions--this lot and one at Swann's of a man fishing in a stream. I confirmed their suspicions after viewing these dags, and all three houses withdrew them. It was a very positive event that we could all cooperate to uncover these modern fakes quickly and effectively. The daguerreotypes all had their source near my Bucks County neighborhood, and I have seen two others apparently from this same source--one of which went up for sale on eBay (a fence with some fish on it) and a beat up Abraham Lincoln portrait. The Lambertville, NJ flea market has been the method of sale in some cases. These all appear to have come from one source, who is an amateur daguerreotypist playing with fire. The daguerreotypes are all easily identified. I will provide information to known Daguerreian Society members/dealers and curators, but, for obvious reasons, I don't want to provide those details here. But the plates were original vintage plates in vintage leatherette cases, although the images were not.

A Drtikol pigment print nude went to a woman in the room for $26,290, just under low estimate. Then a fine print of Rudolf Koppitz's famous Bewegungsstudie went to an order bidder for $101,575, good for fourth place in the sale. The same bidder came back to take the next lot, an Adams Moonrise for $28,680, just below low estimate.

Collector Jack Hastings could not kick the habit, as he took the first of several lots on the day, Irving Penn's Cigarette #69, for $20,315. Then the 1977 Acorn Editions Manuel Alvarez Bravo portfolio with 15 prints went to the phones for $38,240.

One disappointment came when Mark Shaw's JFK Family Album passed at $24,000 on an estimate of $30,000-$40,000. But that disappointment was overcome as a phone bidder checkmated Edwynn Houk for Man Ray's Still-life composition with chess set and plaster cast at the high estimate of $71,700 (tied for eighth). Man Ray's picture of Jean Cocteau sculpting his own head in wire garnered $26,290 from the phones.

Avedon's Dovima and the Elephants, brought $45,410 from a commission bidder and his Lauren Hutton, Great Exuma, the Bahamas, went over high estimate to the phone at $31,070. Robert Frank's Fourth of July, Jay, NY, celebrated a strong $28,680 bid.

A European collector gave Paul Outerbridge's platinum print, Standing Nude with Chair ($60,000-$80,000), a seat at $153,100, the second highest price of the sale.

A group of 40 later prints by Louis Faurer, finally starting to get the recognition he deserves, went above high estimate to a European collector on the phone at $77,675, the seventh highest price of the sale.

Walker Evans's Alabama Tenant Farmer (Floyd Burroughs) brought a respectable $50,190. But the more famous Alabama Tenant Farmer Wife (Allie Mae Burroughs) ($70,000-$90,000) soared to $141,900, number three on the day, as a phone bidder outlasted Jan De Bont. Then Evans's Alabama Tenant Farmer Family (Fields Family) also went over high estimate at $83,650 (fifth place) to the same phone bidder.

Jan Kesner kept the Arbus market percolating as she took a Selkirk print of Arbus's Patriotic Young Man with a Flag ($8,000-$10,000) for $20,315. The Callahan market also kept bubbling as an American dealer bidding on the phone went over high estimate to buy 20 Callahan dye-transfer prints for $71,700 (making it a three-way tie for eighth place).

Garry Winogrand's Women Are Beautiful portfolio ($30,000-$40,000) seduced $65,725 from a phone bidder. Collector Jack Hastings gambled on Irving Penn's dye-transfer After Dinner Games ($25,000-$35,000) as he anted up $59,750. A later print of Robert Frank's Covered Car, Long Beach, CA went over high estimate for $23,900, as California dealer Paul Kopeikin fell short of a phone bidder.

Contemporary work did well in the sale. Adam Fuss's large photogram of a dress ($20,000-$30,000) flew off the rack at $45,410. A portfolio of ten prints by Bernd and Hilla Becher in a clever Agfa-Gevaert box brought $23,900. And the Olivia Parker portfolio Ephemera ($6,000-$8,000) went for $15,535. A run of Hiroshi Sugimotos sold mostly within estimates.

Reversing precedent, the sale closed with 11 lots of Ansel Adams prints, of which two were noteworthy. Portfolio VI sold to the phone for $41,825. And an oversize print of The Tetons and the Snake River brought $81,260, over high estimate and good for sixth place, from Jack Hastings.

"The success of today's sale--and the world auction record price achieved by Walker Evans' Penny Picture Display, Savannah--can be attributed in large part to the extraordinary freshness of the property, which included some of the most renowned images of 20th-century American photography," said Leila Buckjune, head of Christie's Photographs department. "We are particularly pleased with the strong prices achieved by the Outerbridge and Koppitz photographs, which are also icons of the era, and for the selection of contemporary photographs we offered today."

Swann's Brings in Over $707,000 With a Buy-in Rate of 37%

There were not as many heavy hitters in Swann Galleries' October 21 offering, and those few had mixed results. Imogen Cunningham's Agave 2 ($10,000-$15,000) passed, but the next one, Frantisek Drtikol's Étude, the cover lot, edged over its low estimate to $48,300 as Lee Marks held off Robert Koch to take the top lot of the sale. Lewis Hine's Empire State Building topped off at only $17,250 on an estimate of $20,000-$30,000, but was still the second highest lot of the sale. It sold to a phone bidder. And an Adams Moonrise passed at $28,000 on an estimate of $30,000-$40,000, meaning the reserve must have been right at the low estimate.

Ed Ruscha's Surrealism Soaped and Scrubbed ($10,000-$15,000) was cleaned up by a phone bidder for $12,650, the same price Paul Strand's Woman, Patzcuaro, Mexico ($9,000-$12,000) brought from an order bidder. Those two tied for third on the list of top lots. Tina Modotti's Untitled (coconut tree climber) ($9,000-$12,000) went to an order bidder at $11,500.

Julia Margaret Cameron's Henry Taylor, A Portrait ($5,000-$7,000) sold at a premium to the phone for $10,350. Margaret Bourke White's Boys Studying Talmud ($7,000-$10,000) reached the same price over the phone, tying for sixth place.

One other noteworthy price was the $7,475 that Larry Fink's Pat Sabatine's 8th Birthday Party celebrated on an estimate of only $1,200-$1,800. Fink is one of those photographers due recognition by the market and prices for some of his most well known images, like this one, may be on the way up.

As we noted in the Christie's sale, Swann withdrew lot 6, a daguerreotype of a fisherman when it was made known that the image was a modern fake.

Swann's sale was different than the others, not only because of its wide-ranging material and price levels, but the audience was smaller and there were many more bidders on the phone and in the book than in the room. The buy-in rate of 37% lagged slightly behind the other houses, and the sale total of $707,135, below the low estimate, was average at best.

Daile Kaplan, Swann's Vice President and Director of Photographs, said, "As the photographs market continues to grow, Swann's clientele takes advantage of the fact we offer the full panorama of photographic expression, from historical documents to fine art contemporary objects. Our sales results reflect our strengths in different areas of the market."

(Copyright © 2003 and 2004 by The Photo Review and I Photo Central. My thanks to Steve Perloff and The Photograph Collector Newsletter for giving me permission to use some of 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 (overseas airmail is $169.95). You can phone 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)

Books and Catalogues

Before The Flood, Photographs by Edward Burtynsky: exhibition catalogue from the Robert Koch Gallery

Manufactured Landscapes, Photographs by Edward Burtynsky, Yale University Press

By Sean Connolly

The content of Edward Burtynsky's photographs of the earth's face are industrial tattoos and dynamic scarification left by mankind blind to its fate. Burtynsky's photographs of quarries, dams, rail cuts, ship breaking and other massive projects done in the name of industry and wealth show us something voluptuous. They hit the eye with a luxurious play of color. And this from what was originally a black and white photographer.

Both catalogue and book, present us with histories of events still wide open as seen through the eyes of a documentary artist who turns the formal Black &White into a dominant Chrome & White splendidly apt for each image. So, it is rust and white on the beach in Bengal where the ships are torn apart. Alabaster and white at the quarries, or make that ebony and white, or opal and white, or sarcophagus white on pale lime on the floodplain, which is soon to hold the lake generated by the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River in China.

The temptation to describe this opulent opera for the eye is too great to continue. The text in the catalogues does this more than sufficiently. The authors begin by wringing their hands about all the environmental consequences of our lust for feeding and breeding and parading ourselves. Burtynsky simply says we are momentary and place is eternal, immutable. This is a poet talking. He shows us this evidence of Man.

This comes out in the interview with Michael Torosian, a Toronto photographer, in Manufactured Landscapes, and I never once felt lectured or dizzy from any of the abstract talk about form and content. It all began in a place called Frackville, PA where Burtynsky had wandered off the highway and found himself surrounded by mountains of slag and a pool of vivid green. A Canadian, he went back north looking for other such eerie landscapes.

The curators Lori Pauli and Mark Haworth-Booth, and the art critic Kenneth Baker, add historical perspective in Manufactured Landscapes, tracing Burtynsky's provenance through various landscape painters and photographers, and although they place him in the realm of those deemed profound, astonishing, brilliant and breathtaking, they can't shake the destruction and devastation the subjects of his photographs leave in their hearts. Too bad. But, then again, the quarries and mining projects are massive. And so are the photographs, but nowhere is their size given in Manufactured Landscapes, and given bare mention in Before the Flood - some of the images as large as 50 x 120 inches.

Before The Flood, a publication of Robert Koch Gallery, 35 pages in color, in a soft cover format ($25) is available from the Robert Koch Gallery at 415-421-0122 or by email at info@KochGallery.com .

Manufactured Landscapes is the exhibition book for the touring show of the same name appearing at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, January 24 to April 4, 2004 and at the Brooklyn Museum of Art in the Fall of 2005. A hardcover published by Yale University Press ($55), 160 pages, containing 56 four-color plates. Available at many bookstores and through Robert Koch Gallery.

Sun Pictures, Catalogue Twelve

By Maria Connolly

The exhibition Etchings of Light: Talbot and Photogravure, hosted by Hans Kraus has come and gone, but what remains is yet another valuable contribution to the history of photography in the form of Sun Pictures, Catalogue Twelve. Dr. Larry J. Schaaf brings his expertise to the subject of Talbot and Photogravure in this richly illustrated 69 page addition to Kraus' series of Sun Pictures catalogues.

Larry Schaaf's essay and accompanying notes to the illustrations introduces us to an unfamiliar title given to Henry Fox Talbot: the father of the photogravure. It seems that no sooner than Talbot invented photography he began experimenting with better ways of mass-producing photographic images that would replace 'silver's fatal flaw' with printing inks. Schaaf points out that Talbot's interest in printing processes seems " fitting, for throughout his life Talbot displayed a passion for the world of books, printing, and publishing. Indeed, he personally placed the real value of his invention of photography within the domain of publishing, a perception especially apparent in his bold and provocative 1844 The Pencil of Nature." Schaff continues on to demonstrate not only Talbot's dual interests but also the symbiotic history of the two new mediums.

The illustrations are a virtual treasure trove for historians and of paramount interest to collectors of early photography and early processes. They include not only facsimiles of seminal pages from an 1878 book on photography, text by Talbot himself, hand written letters, early photogenic drawings and salt prints from calotype negatives, but engravings of collaged test patches and prophetic experimental printings of layers of gauze and crepe (more than intimations of the half tone screen) as well as an array of exquisite engravings from nature the like of which will make any collector long to caress with the naked eye.

The catalogue is available from Hans Kraus, Jr. and some museum bookstores for $30. Kraus can be reached at 212-794-2064 or by email at info@sunpictures.com .