FALL AUCTION SEASON: PART 1, TORRID SALES TEAR UP RECORDS; PHILLIPS LEADS OFF IN A TOUGH SPOT, BUT DOES WELL AT NEARLY $4.4 MILLION AND A 74.4% SOLD RATE; CHRISTIE'S ELFERING AUCTION NETS $7,158,080, WITH 88% SELL-THROUGH; CHRISTIE'S SELLS MAPPLETHORPE FLOWERS FOR $1,530,400; VINTAGE WORKS TO EXHIBIT AT PARIS PHOTO NOV. 16-20; HOLIDAY SEASON SALE ON IPHOTO CENTRAL STARTS NOV. 1; TWO CHARITY AUCTIONS REAL AND VIRTUAL; NEW SPECIAL EXHIBITS GO UP ON IPHOTOCENTRAL WEBSITE
PHILLIPS LEADS OFF IN A TOUGH
SPOT, BUT DOES WELL AT NEARLY
$4.4 MILLION AND A 74.4% SOLD RATE
The auctions this fall dickered with unreality, as some prices seemed frankly ridiculously high. The photography market has apparently segmented into several markets: the traditional photo market, the stratospherically priced traditional market, the contemporary art photography market and now the edgy, high-priced decorator market (think Helmut Newton, Robert Mapplethorpe, Irving Penn, Diane Arbus and Richard Avedon). Astonishingly, the three major houses took in well over $29 million, with Christie's taking home the prize for first at over $14.5 million from its three sales. All this took place amidst the backdrop of a terrorist scare in the New York subways (generated by announcements from the New York mayor who is running hard for reelection and later repudiated by the intelligence community). More about all this later and in the next few newsletters.
Phillip de Pury had the inauspicious first slot, which was scheduled for the Thursday and Friday prior to most of the action. That made it tough on this auction house, but it still performed well, bringing in a total of $4,363,948 including the buyer's premium. Phillips also managed a solid 74.4% sell-through rate. Of all the auctions, this could have been the only one where you might have found a relative bargain. For the sake of space, I will primarily cover only lots above $20,000, including the premium. For the other New York sales I will have to go up to $40,000 for my minimums.
No pussyfooting around here, the first lot on the first night was a later printed Diane Arbus of the "Boy in Straw Hat Waiting to March in a Pro-War Parade". The phone bidder had to battle a determined San Francisco dealer Jeffrey Fraenkel to win this lot at $69,600, including premium (all prices below will include the premium), which was good enough for ninth highest lot of the two-day auction. The estimate was a sensible $25,000-$35,000. This kind of bidding well over the estimates became rather normal throughout the next week. Phillips did list an addendum that indicated that this was a print outside of the normal edition of 50 (not an edition of 75 noted in the catalogue), which was a rather peculiar thing in itself. Why the estate had printed extra copies, apparently outside of the edition is not known and frankly disturbing. There have been rumors circulating about the numbers of prints coming out of the Arbus estate, and this kind of thing does not help matters.
Lots 2, 3 (not the best images) and 4 (a poor print of Cartier-Bresson's Andalucia, Seville) passed. Then lot 5, a strong nude in a color Carbro print by Paul Outerbridge, Jr., caught the attention of the phones. The price was a fetching $50,400.
Lot 6, a phallic Karl Blossfelt plant study, became the first lot of the fall season to break into six figures, but certainly not the last, as even the seven-figure mark was breached for the first time this October. The phone had to fend off NY dealer Howard Greenberg to grab this one at $120,000, which was just at the low estimate. The print tied for third highest price in the Phillips auction.
NY dealer Yancey Richardson picked up lot 7, an Albert Renger-Patzsch, for a below estimate price of $31,200. The next lot, another Renger-Patsch, bought in.
The German Camera Works group was very active in the sales. The gallery took lot 9, an August Sander portrait of a woman for the low estimate at $24,000.
Santa Monica gallery owner Rose Shoshana took the cover lot, the Florence Henri nude, for just over the low estimate at $15,600. By the way, the Phillips oversized catalogue was a bit difficult to take on the subway or into a restaurant, given that it had full frontal nudity on the front (female) and back (male) covers.
New York art dealer Lisa Jacobs took home some real estate for a client, placing the winning bid on Margaret Bourke-White's Empire State Building (lot 11) for $31,200. Then she bought a more modest place, Kertesz's Le Gardien, Paris (lot 12) for $24,000.
Meret Oppenheim's 1964 x-ray self portrait (multiple copies) went to the phone for well under estimate at $20,400. The next lot, a Bravo (lot 17) bought-in at $24,000. Lot 18, a Frederick Sommer nude went to a phone for $24,000.
One of the true buys of the auction was lot 19, an oversized (18-3/4 x 12-3/4 in.) and vintage or near-vintage print of Robert Frank's "Fourth of July, Jay, NY" with great provenance. It went just above estimate at $38,400. Compare that to a printed-later 11-7/8 x 8 in. one that sold the following week at Christie's for $50,400. Christie's had tagged theirs with a circa 1970 date that I believe to be wishful thinking. It sure looked like a 1980s or later print to most of the dealers I talked to. Phillips' print went to an American collector via an order bid.
A phone bidder took lot 21, a Garry Winogrand print at $22,800. It was a 1970s print of the iconic "Los Angeles, 1964" (man with bandage on nose in car). The first time this image sold well and set an auction record for Winogrand--also at Phillips during the Seagram's sale in May 2003--it auctioned off for $21,510 to Thea Westreich over my own determined underbid. But that one was reportedly a vintage print from 1964. Another reported vintage print set a new Winogrand auction record when it sold for $33,460 at Christie's last October.
A small portfolio of Helmut Newton's "15 Photographs, New York" sold to the room for a reasonable $50,400. I thought it was bought by the Camera Work people.
Robert Frank's London (Belsize Crescent) probably printed in the 1970s (not the 60s quoted in the catalogue) and reportedly having some light surface problems still sold to the room for $74,400, well over the estimate of $30,000-50,000 and good enough for seventh highest lot of the auction. It is one of my favorite Frank images.
A portfolio of Lewis Baltz's Nevada (15 prints) sold to the phone after some frantic bidding for $42,000. Baltz's work is hot and individual vintage prints later in the auction went into low five figures for two of the prints.
A rather depressing and mediocre image by Cindy Sherman (lot 30, "Untitled Film Still, #26) still went to the high estimate of $36,000. It sold to a phone bidder. Just think of the beauties that you could buy for $36,000, instead of this one. To be clear: I genuinely appreciate good contemporary work (even occasionally Cindy Sherman's), and this is not that.
The first of two Nicholas Nixon portfolios of "The Brown Sisters, 1975-2004" (30 prints) went on the block and was bought by West Coast dealer Jeffrey Fraenkel for the low estimate (plus premium) of $180,000. It turned out to be a modest bargain versus the one sold later at Sotheby's for $192,000. It also was the second highest priced lot of the auction.
Irving Penn's "Frozen Food (With String Beans)" received a warm welcome from a phone bidder, who plunked down $48,000 (the low estimate with premium) for the colorful still life.
William Eggleston's Greenwood, MS (better known as red ceiling with light bulb) sold to Fraenkel at $114,000, a price just below low estimate, but good enough for number five out Phillips' top ten prints. The back cover of a red-filtered male nude by Eggleston, which was estimated at a reaching $80,000-$100,000, was bought in at $24,000. At the same time, a copy of Eggleston's Guide, signed by the artist and John Szarkowski, brought an astounding $2,400 (estimated at $800-$1,200) from the phones--clearly a case of auction fever. West Coast dealer Rose Shoshana did have to compete for Eggleston's intriguing "Boy in Red Sweater (lot 42), which she paid $44,400, or about double the low estimate. While there are exceptions, Eggleston's prices seem to have topped out--at least for the moment.
Philip-Lorca Dicorcia's "Mario" (at Refrigerator) sold to a phone bidder over NY dealer Peter MacGill's underbid. The price of $54,000, while not a record for Dicorcia, was more than double the $22,705 that La Salle Bank curator Carol Ehler paid just two years ago for this image at Phillips' Joshua Smith sale.
Vik Muniz's "Historical Photo" (Landscape with Attached Mirrors) went unsold at $30,000.
One of the few Helmut Newton's to go unsold during this auction season was lot 47, a color coupler print of Naomi Campbell, at $24,000.
Philip-Lorca Dicorcia's "Eddie Anderson, 21 years old, Houston, TX" went to a this-time-successful Peter MacGill at $45,600.
Gregory Crewdson's strange and oddly disturbing "Untitled, Summer 2003" (lot 50) sold to an order bidder for the low estimate at $48,000.
Another Dicorcia image "Marilyn, 28 years old, Las Vegas, NV" nearly set a new auction record for the artist when a phone bidder doubled the low estimate at $60,000. This tied for tenth place among the highest priced prints of the sale.
The real excitement among Phillips' contemporary pieces was properly reserved for Andreas Gursky's magnificent "EM, Arena 1". This huge (109 x 81-1/4 in.) and graphic print has great presence. I was sorely tempted until the price soared well above first the low estimate and then the high estimate. It sold to a man in the room for $291,520. While it was the top lot of the Phillips' sale and normally would have been at the top or near the top of most auction season's, this fall this price only made this lot the 13th most expensive of the auction week.
There was no let down on the next lot. Peter Lindbergh's huge triptych of Mick Jagger was extremely wrinkled (almost as wrinkled as the singer himself), but the auctioneer swore that the artist would "fix" this problem--god only knows how. In any case, the bidding was between a man in back in a double-breasted suit and the Camera Work gallery group. The man won out at $102,000, which is the second highest price made at auction for this artist's work and was the sixth most expensive of the Phillips' sale.
Vic Muniz's "Double Elvis" in chocolate sold to a phone for $60,000, tying for tenth most expensive lot in this auction. His "Milan" (or Last Supper in chocolate) went to a commission bidder at $72,000, which was the eighth highest price paid at this auction.
Mercifully, Richard Prince's Untitled (Cowboy), or more appropriately "Rip-off of a Marlboro Ad", was bought in at $115,000--a price that would be a truly ridiculous example of cultural stupidity and greed if achieved.
But then we still have the next lot by Roni Horn "Clowd and Cloun (Grey) Group 2". This silliness went to a phone bidder at $36,000.
Vanessa Beecroft's huge image, on the other hand, is a masterful performance of political consequence. You simply must read the catalogue notation on this item. It sold to a phone bidder for $31,200.
All chocolate must melt, and so lot 60, Vik Muniz's Olympia (in chocolate), 2000 failed to find a bidder even at $26,000, which is where it bought-in.
The two Hiroshi Sugimoto's both did well, although were bargains compared to others auctioned the next week. The first, which in the catalogue resembles a solid black rectangle, sold to a phone bidder for $31,200; and the second sold to a man in the room for the same $31,200.
After another three lots the evening session closed out and after a good night's sleep, we all awoke to the traffic jam that was New York City during a subway scare coupled with drenching rain.
The morning session had more lower-priced lots and so it was not until lot 92, Andre Kertesz's Épicerie, that a lot broke over my minimum. This lot went to a commission bid at $24,000.
Rick Wester, who was auctioneer for most of this day's session, noted on one lot when it bought-in at $1,700 that it was "only cab fair uptown." He wasn't exactly kidding on this day. But Wester did have to struggle a bit, as most of the buy-ins came early in the session. When he finally did get some bids, he joked, "Hey, it feels like an auction."
But the bids did finally get going. On lot 133, Dorothea Lange's "Migratory Cotton Picker, Eloy, AZ" dealers Peter MacGill and Rose Shoshana got into a bidding duel. MacGill came out the winner at $33,600, paying near the high estimate.
An Edward Weston "Shell and Rock Arrangement" (one of two in the auctions) sold for the reserve at $21,600. At least it was printed by Weston and signed by him. The other offered later at Sotheby's was not.
Another Outerbridge carbro color nude (lot 146) went to the phone at $24,000. In fact Outerbridge's color work had a small revival, as all the prints offered found buyers. Perhaps the contemporary focus on color is bringing the attention back around to this early color experimenter. Much of the work was bought by dealers for inventory.
Robert Frank's "Daytona" (lot 163) went to the Camera Works crew for $24,000--just over high estimate. Deborah Bell took the next Robert Frank "Thru a Window" for $19,200, again also over high estimate. Frank is still plenty hot, and he would get more attention later the next week.
A phone took the Louis Faurer "Suite of 40 Photographs of Philadelphia, Atlantic City and New York" (lot 165) for the low estimate of $48,000.
We hop a few lots to lot 205, a Man Ray Rayograph printed reportedly about 1960. The provenance was good. Collector Jack Hastings took this lot for the low estimate of $24,000.
Rose Shoshana bought lot 214, Robert Frank's "Approaching New York Harbour" for its low estimate of $24,000.
An Irving Penn of "Cigarette #37, New York" sold for $31,850, well over its high estimate, foreshadowing things to come. I am not positive but I think it sold to the room.
Cindy Sherman's Untitled E (lot 258) sold to a phone for the low estimate at $24,000.
Stephen Shore's Twelve Photographs (lot 273) was bid up by several phones. One phone finally took home this ticking time bomb at nearly two and half times low estimate. The $56,400 price was pretty steep for color work that is likely to fade quickly. Shore's work is clearly important, but the lack of print stability should have made people hesitate a bit. Early color coupler prints have little staying power, unlike current "C-print" versions or dye transfer/destruction or color carbro prints.
The Diane Arbus prints in this auction were some of the more reasonably priced ones to come up this fall. Many fell into high four and low five-figure price levels including buyer's premium. Lot 279, Untitled #7, sold to the phone for $24,000. That was a bargain compared to the other auctions.
Lee Friedlander's also seemed more reasonable here. Gary Wolkowitz did pay a lot for one of Friedlander's best, "Father Duffy, Times Square, NYC". But frankly the $30,000 seems very low for the importance of the image.
Another hot property, Garry Winogrand, attracted strong bidding on his portfolio, "Women Are Beautiful". Lots of dealer and collector interest on this one, but it was Lee Marks that took home the prize for one of her clients at $120,000. That was over double the low estimate, but frankly not that unexpected.
Even the Internet chimed into this sale, claiming William Eggleston's "Outskirts of Morton, MS, Halloween, 1971" for $49,000. Now that is the power of cyberspace!
Vik Muniz last piece of chocolate also melted away in Phillips' hands, failing to find any bidders on lot 343, "Photo Op".
Philip-Lorca Dicorcia's "Mario, Hartford, 1980" sold for $42,000, well over the high estimate.
Hiroshi Sugimoto's seascapes helped to close out the auction in high style. Against estimates of $15,000-20,000, lots 353 and 354 posted bids of $39,600 and $42,000 respectively.
Up next Christie's single owner sales.
CHARTRES AUCTION NETS
148,000 EUROS, 90% SOLD RATE
Sandwiched in between the big New York City auctions, Galerie de Chartres small photography auction, just outside of Paris, provided some action on the other side of the pond. The auction was held on Saturday, October 8th. For a small French auction it did very well, netting 148,000 euros (over $180,000) and an admirable 90% sell-through rate. It also provided some important 19th-century material, which is now totally missing in New York.
The cover lots--two fine daguerreotype stereos, either by A. Bertrand or attributed to him--got into low five figures, while other stereo daguerreotypes also sold very well, many, if not most, at record levels for the type of material.
The first of the Bertrand's was one picturing a stereo viewer, photo chemicals and a glass funnel. It sold for 12,650 euros (or about $15,400), including premium. I underbid the lot by phone.
I also played bride's maid to the next stereo daguerreian lot, which showed a young Caucasian woman leaning on the lap of a North African man. It sold for 14,950 euros (or about $18,200), including premium.
My friend and fellow I Photo Central dealer Arnaud Delas of Galerie Hypnos is the expert and contact for Galerie de Chartres.
CHRISTIE'S ELFERING AUCTION
NETS $7,158,080; 88% SELL-THROUGH
Christie's single owner sales broke world auction records for many photographers and netted the house $8,686,480--and that did not include the regular multi-owner sale on the following Wednesday.
The first of the single-owner sales was that of the Elfering Collection, which focused on many of the big names of post-war photography. Records were smashed for Avedon, Penn and Beard, and new records were also made for Horst, Brassai, and Cartier-Bresson (the latter record just edging the previous record held by Sotheby's Amsterdam), among others. The 162-lot sale netted $7,158,080 and had a hefty sell-through of 88%. The sold lots actually average over $50,000 each. And, although there was a large and involved crowd for the auction, the phones and commission bidders were extremely active as well, especially on the many high-end images.
Because the auction had so many high prices, I will have to limit myself to lots that sold for over $40,000, including premium. I know that most of my readers will shake their heads over that rather insane cut-off number, but that still means covering over 50 lots in just this sale alone. I also dislike having to report on the market as if only high five-figure and six and even seven-figure images are the only important part of photography. They clearly are not. But I am stuck with having to do this when it comes to the big three houses' auction market. The unreality of this market has struck me, and I will be doing a full analysis in the next newsletter, along with the rest of the auction coverage. And, interestingly enough, despite (or perhaps because) of the numbingly high prices, there was little real buzz in the rooms during this season. Much of the bidding was dominated by phones, commission bids and a small group of major buyers.
Alfred Stieglitz's "Fifth Avenue" (lot 5) sold to a phone bidder for $50,400.
The cover lot (#14), Irving Penn's "Two Liqueurs" was just a battle between two phones. The color dye-transfer print sold for $102,000. On Penn's late-printed large print of "Woman with Roses" it was a battle between the phone and a commission bidder. I believe the order bidder, an American collector, won this one at $204,000. But wait. That was not to be Penn's new record (at least not for long), although it was good enough for seventh place in this auction.
Helmut Newton was another big seller in this auction. Lot 21, his big "Nude III, Paris" sold to the phone for mid-point in the range at $60,000.
Contemporary work also did fairly well here. Thomas Ruff's "Nudes, em 10" (lot 23) sold for $48,000, again to the phone. An earlier nude from this series (lot 4) had sold to a different phone bidder for $38,400, but lot 23 was a warmer and more inviting image.
Peter Beard broke out at this auction. Lot 24, his "I'll Write Whenever I Can" self-portrait went way above the estimate of $20,000-30,000. In the battle between the phones and a commission bidder, the phones won at a whopping $66,000, which was ever so briefly a new world auction record for the artist. But, again, wait. The record for this artist would be broken THREE times more during this sale, and this price would look reasonable by auction end.
After Beard's straightforward "Ol Morani Zebra Rug, Lariak Estate" sold to a phone at a mere $40,800, things heated up again. Beard's El Moro Bay, Princess Loingalaire, Lake Rudolf, Kenya" collage went to the same phone for $72,000--the second time in the auction that a world record for the artist had been set. Two more to go.
Brassai's iconic "Couple in a Small Café", which was printed in the 1950s and had a very large hair mark in the ferrotyping, was sold to San Francisco dealer Robert Koch for a client at a just-record-breaking $48,000 (for a single print). That indicates that even earlier, non-vintage prints are in demand for this artist. Frankly, I feel that Brassai's key work may be some of the most undervalued in the market. However, until it is determined where the tens of thousands of prints in the estate will wind up, the market may remain in flux. However, key prints, such as this image, are rare. Brassai, unlike Cartier-Bresson, died before the biggest demand for later-printed images emerged in the mid-to-late 1980s, and never produced a lot of these.
Richard Avedon was another of the trio of post-war photographers (Penn, Newton and Avedon) that continued to be very hot this season. Several world auction records for his work were set during just this sale. The first of the records was set with his plentiful but entertaining "Dovina with Elephants" (lot 37). Previously the large print of this image sold at Christie's NY two years ago for just above $45,000 (nearly a record at that point for the artist). So what did American collector Leon Constantino plop down for this one? How about a record-shattering (again, only for the moment) $180,000? The estimate had been a "reaching" $60,000-80,000. Constantino was on a bit of a buying rampage at this sale.
Irving Penn's "Poppy: Showgirl" (lot 39) sold to the phone for $45,600.
And then once again, Penn's auction record would be broken. An American collector on the phone battled New York dealer Peter MacGill in the room for Penn's "Black and White Vogue Cover" (lot 40). When the smoke had cleared, the phone had won, but at a new record price of $216,000, which was only good enough for a tie for fifth place in this sale. And, to add insult to injury, the new record would be broken again later in the sale.
Santa Monica dealer Rose Shoshanna got Man Ray's "Gypsy" for its reserve at $72,000. The image strikes me as more pictorialist than modernist, although it is a decent nude.
Henri Cartier-Bresson's early but later-printed "On the Banks of the Marne" sold to the phone over Peter MacGill's strong underbidding. The print had been bought from MacGill by Elfering. Here it set a new world auction record for the artist at $132,000--not even enough to put it in the top ten of this sale. Frankly the price seemed very high for a print made at least 20 years after the negative.
The German gallery Camera Works took lot 50, a 12-print portfolio by Horst for $84,000.
Edward Weston's "Nude-Dunes at Oceano", estimated at $150,000-200,000 sold to a phone bidder (among many), who plunked down $284,800, good enough for third place in this auction's top ten and the only "traditional" photographer to have broken into this level.
Another Horst portfolio (lot 56) went to the phone for $84,000.
The next lot, Richard Avedon's "Marella Agnelli", sold to Thea Westreich for $45,600--well more than double the high estimate. Avedon's "Marilyn Monroe" sold to a collector in the room for $57,600--just shy of the high estimate.
Helmut Newton's larger print of "Elsa Peretti as a Bunny" turned into a battle between the phones and a commission bidder. A phone got the key to the mansion, but at a cost of $98,400.
But a squeaky-clean commission bidder outlasted the phones on Newton's "Domestic Nude III (Chateau Marmont Laundry)" at $57,600. The ever-puckish Michael Mattis, collector extraordinaire, commented: "I've definitely been going to the wrong Laundromat."
Irving Penn's popular "Cuzco Children, Peru" sold to the room for below the low estimate at $54,000. But his colorful "Still Life with Watermelon" sold to the phone for well over the high estimate at $45,600. So did the next color Penn lot, "After Dinner Games", which sold to a man in tan for $96,000, who then promptly left the auction. Penn's color work did very well here.
His black and white work did ok too. The phone took lot 70, "Picasso, Cannes" for $60,000, under the low estimate.
Horst Paul Horst's "Mainbocher Corset", apparently the print used in Vogue, the original that a master copy negative was made from, and only one of six vintage prints known, drew strong commission and phone bids. The commission bidder went home with this beauty for a mere record-breaking $216,000, which was at the high edge of the estimate range. The price was only good enough to tie Penn's "Black and White Vogue Cover" for fifth place in this auction's top ten.
Peter Beard's Camera Work portfolio (lot 74) sold to a phone for well over the estimate of $30,000-40,000. The final price was $66,000.
Beard's "Mingled Destinies of Crocodyles and Man" (lot 76) went to a man in the back of the room for a whopping $96,000. It was well over the estimate of $40,000-60,000 and not my favorite of the Beard's, but it managed to hold the world record for the artist--at least for a few minutes.
London dealer Michael Hoppen hitched a ride with Jacques-Henri Lartigue's "Renee Perle with Motoring Goggles" (lot 77), paying $45,600, or about midway in the estimate range.
X-Series, a life-size triptych by Floris Neusüss, wonderful and unique photograms of the female form, sold at reserve to Santa Monica dealer Rose Shoshanna, who stole this piece for only $50,400.
Irving Penn's "Girl in Bed on Telephone" (a near vintage print) seemed to stall at $65,000, but then it just took off. A determined collector Leon Constantino against dealer Peter MacGill sent this one off into the stratosphere. Estimated at $40,000-60,000, it eventually sold to Peter MacGill for $192,000--four times the low estimate. That price allowed the lot to tie for eighth in the top ten for this sale.
But Constantino was not to be deterred. He came back on Helmut Newton's bizarre "Madonna Dancing on a Bar with Beer Bottle (in her mouth yet!), Hollywood". Estimated at $20,000-30,000, the lot (#107) enticed $96,000 from the collector.
A commission bidder took the Helmut Newton Camera Work portfolio (10 images, lot 111) for the reserve at $108,000.
Avedon's bit of nostalgia, his black and white "The Beatles, London" (lot 116), was captured by a woman in the room for just a little above the low estimate at $102,000.
Sugimoto lit up the phone banks with his "Eiffel Tower-Gustave Eiffel" (lot 130). It hammered down with premium for $42,000, a bit over the high estimate.
Peter Lindbergh's "Mathilde, Eiffel Tower, Homage to Blumenfeld and Riboud, Paris" (lot 131, a fetching nude out on the scaffolding of the tower) created a stir, especially from phone bidders, one of whom bid the work up to three times its high estimate at $72,000, which would have been a new world record for the artist, except for the large portrait of Keith Richards that sold last fall at Phillips for $120,000. Give me Mathilde instead of Keith Richards' drug-shriveled façade or even Sugimoto's out-of-focus tower any day.
A woman in the front of the room wrestled down a small "Big Nude I, Paris" (lot 141) for about the reserve at $42,000. An order bidder did the same for the late-printed Leni Riefenstahl Olympic Album (lot 144) at $84,000. It is interesting to note that Leni Riefenstahl is always credited for this work, for which she merely hired the photographers and directed them--much like Mathew Brady's "coverage" of the American Civil War.
Peter Beard's sexy Maureen Gallagher and Night Feeder (a Giraffe) tied the earlier world record for the artist when it went to a man in the back of the room for $96,000.
Beard's next lot (148) "Nor Dread Nor Hope Attend" sold to the phone for the low estimate at $48,000, over the underbid of London dealer Michael Hoppen.
Hoppen also played bridesmaid on the next lot (149), Beard's amazing "Self Portrait for Centre Nationale de la Photographie, Paris." This huge collage was my favorite object of this fall's auctions. This stunning tour de force was estimated at $80,000-120,000, so the room quickly realized that another world mark would soon be set. Hoppen persisted courageously, but so did an American dealer on the phone, who eventually got it for $192,000. Yes, it is a lot of money, but at that price for this piece, that was a true bargain. That price managed to tie Penn's "Girl in Bed on Telephone" for ninth place. No other Beard material of this caliber had ever come up for auction (and may never again in this quantity), and now we know what kind of prices his great work can command.
For the stargazers among the auction bidders, lot 151, Thomas Ruff's "12H 06M/ -75" drew their eyes and money ever upward. It sold to the phone for $57,600, about midpoint in the estimate range.
The sexiest photograph of this auction season had to be lot 152, Richard Avedon's huge print of "Stephanie Seymour, Model, New York City". Estimated at $80,000-120,000, it quickly seduced bidders. When the smoke (and heat) had cleared, Leon Constantino had taken the image away from the phones for the mind-numbing and new world record price of $262,400. But even that mark for Avedon would be shattered (and I do mean shattered) moments later. In fact, it was only good for fourth highest priced lot of the sale.
But first we have to get to Irving Penn and his new record. Lot 154, Penn's "Salad Ingredients" was just the appetizer, selling to a man in an orange shirt in the room for well over estimate at $45,600. More food from Penn, as the next lot, "Italian Still Life", sold to the phone--again over estimate--for $50,400. But finally, we get to the main course, lot 156, Penn's "Woman in Moroccan Palace" in a platinum-palladium print. The phones were buzzing on this one, and when the bidding stopped, a new world record for the artist was set at $307,200. The print was bought by an English dealer--I assume for a client. However, it was only the second highest lot in this auction and only tied for tenth highest lot of the auction week.
Penn continued on a hot streak as his large four-panel platinum-palladium print of "Cigarette No. 37" sold to New York dealer Peter MacGill at the high estimate of $180,000.
The contemporary photography art market showed it still had some kick left, as Thomas Demand's Flugel (Grand Piano) took off to nearly double the high estimate at $156,000. Maybe the phone bidders got confused and thought they were bidding on a Penn or an Avedon.
Helmut Newton's "Sie Kommen" in a 16-3/8 x 14 inch print sold to the room for $72,000.
Richard Avedon's psychedelic dye-transfer color prints of "The Beatles, London" became a battle between the room, the phone and a commission bidder. Finally an American collector on the phone (and obviously a big Beatles fan) had to pay $464,000 (yes, those are three zeros on the end) for the Fabulous Four. That easily became the new world's auction record for this artist, and was the top lot of this auction. However, it would only be the fourth highest priced lot of the week.
The last lot of the sale was no dud. Thomas Struth's nearly life-sized "Paradise 25, Yuquehy, Brazil" sold nearly at the top of its estimate at $90,000. It was indeed an expensive day in Paradise.
Mapplethorpe's flowers were next.
CHRISTIE'S SELLS MAPPLETHORPE
FLOWERS FOR $1,530,400
Robert Mapplethorpe's color flower series was the subject of a second single-owner sale at Christie's. The owner had bought the entire bunch from the Robert Miller Gallery. The sale did spectacularly well. Over $1.5 million dollars and 90% of the lots (36 out of 40) were sold largely to phone and order bidders. The room had cleared out after the morning Elfering sale. To be merciful and concise, I am limiting the report to flowers that sold for over $40,000, still over 30% of the group up for auction.
To be honest, I am not a big fan of most of Mapplethorpe's flowers, which remind me either of a commercial catalogue photographer's work on steroids or custom wallpaper. Having said that, I was still impressed with the ferocity of the bidders, who attacked the auction house estimates.
On lot 208, Calla Lilies, the estimate of $25,000-35,000 was demolished by a commission bidder and the phones. The commission bidder, who was a European collector, won out at $60,000, which was good enough to place fifth in the top ten of this auction.
But that was just a light prelude to what was to happen on lot 210, Poppy. Estimated at a mere $30,000-50,000, this little flower and bud shot up like a bloody redwood tree. In the end an American collector on the phone had this flower for their lapel at a world record price for the artist of $251,200. That was to remain the top lot of this auction, but Mapplethorpe's record would itself be broken again later at Christie's multi-owner sale.
Lot 211, another single Calla Lily, sold to the room for $50,400--just at the reserve and good enough for sixth highest price in this auction.
Contrary to the title, not every lot was flowers. Lot 213 was an image of "Fruit and Urn". It sold nearly at double its high estimate at $42,000 to an American collector on the phone. That tied the lot for tenth place in this sale.
Another Poppy (lot 217) also shot up well over its estimate of $40,000-60,000 because of a buzz of phone bidder bees. The same American collector on the phone (Paddle 1764) from lot 213 took this one at $132,000, which was good enough for second place in this auction (or should I say "flower show").
Lot 219, another Calla Lilly, sold to a U.K. dealer on the phone for $102,000, a little more than double the low estimate and the third highest price of the auction.
Still another Calla Lilly (lot 222) sold to an American dealer in the room for the low estimate of $48,000--good enough for seventh place.
Bidder number 1764 was back again for lot 226, another Calla Lilly, paying just below the low estimate at $45,600, which was good enough to tie for eighth place.
Yet again another Calla Lilly (Why does this flower have to be so seductive? How about roses or carnations?) sold to an American collector on the phone for well over the high estimate at $90,000, which was good enough for fourth place in the top ten.
A Mum (of all things!), lot 231, sold to an American collector on the phone for $45,600, a tie for eighth highest priced print of the auction.
Lot 238, a unique silver print, the same image as in lot 218 only in black and white, sold to the phone for $42,000, which placed it in a tie for tenth place. Just think: you could've had color with that for $6,000 less.
NEXT NEWSLETTER: Part II: Sotheby's single-owner and multi-owner sales, and Christie's multi-owner sale--and all the records broken.
VINTAGE WORKS TO EXHIBIT
AT PARIS PHOTO NOV. 16-20
I am very excited about being invited to exhibit this year at Paris Photo, the premier photography collecting event in the world, which will be held at the Carrousel du Louvre in Paris, November 16-20, 2005. To find out more details about the show itself, you can visit the Paris Photo web site at http://www.parisphoto.fr
or go to the http://www.iphotocentral.com
site and click on Paris Photo's banner ad.
I would like to invite you to visit Vintage Works' booth (G5) in the Le Notre salon when you come to Paris Photo. We have taken one of the largest booths at the fair to better exhibit some of the high points of our inventory of masterwork vintage and contemporary photography.
The vintage masterworks will include images from Edward Steichen, Gustave Le Gray, Roger Fenton, August Salzmann, Man Ray, Horst, Ilse Bing, Brett Weston, Eugene Atget, Brassai, Andre Kertesz, Julia M. Cameron, Lewis Carroll, Peter Henry Emerson, Walker Evans, Louis De Clercq, Edward Curtis, Jacques-Henri Lartigue, Charles Marville, Charles Negre, Eugene Piot, Edouard Boubat, Christophe Pruszkowski, Southworth & Hawes, Linnaeus Tripe, Otto Steinert, Sabine Weiss, Clarence White, Adolphe Bertsch, Laure Albin-Guillot, Robert Doisneau, Joel-Peter Witkin, Garry Winogrand, Sherill Schell, Berenice Abbott and Eduoard Baldus--just to name a few.
Among the contemporary artists that we represent and will feature at the fair are Marcus Doyle, Joel D. Levinson, Ray Bidegain, Charlie Schreiner and Lisa Holden.
If you do come to Paris Photo, you are invited for a glass of champagne at the booth on Friday night from 7-8:30 p.m. (19:00-20:30 for my European friends). Photographer Marcus Doyle will also be on hand on Friday and Saturday night from 5-8 p.m. to sign and inscribe copies of his new color photography art book "Night Vision: Intimacies of an Unblinking Eye". Both the softbound copies ($39.95) and the hardbound and slip-cased limited edition of 100 copies with print ($500.00) will be available at the show.
I will have two European friends assisting me at the stand, Pascale Bayarre and France Lejeune. They will be able to handle most language requirements that might be necessary.
If you need a Wednesday preview pass to the event, please call me. I have a limited number that I will give out on a first-come basis. Just call me at +1-215-822-5662 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
HOLIDAY SALE ON IPHOTO
CENTRAL KICKS OFF NOV. 1
Newsletter readers will soon be able to see a special End-of-the-Year Holiday sale on I Photo Central brought to you by all five of the website's photography dealers, beginning on Tuesday, November 1st. 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. Many of the items' regular list prices were reduced earlier, so the actual net reductions may be well over 40% to 80% in many instances. These are all final prices, so no other discounts apply. Shipping/insurance may also be added.
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.
TWO CHARITY AUCTIONS REAL AND VIRTUAL
PHOTO REVIEW CATALOGUE NOW
ONLINE; AUCTION SET FOR NOV. 5
The Photo Review, a critical journal of photography, will hold its Annual Benefit Auction on Saturday, November 5, 2005 at 7 p.m. in the Dorrance-Hamilton Building at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.
The event will feature an international slate of photographers as well as a host of Philadelphia artists. Beginning and experienced collectors alike will have the opportunity to bid on work by such historic masters as Berenice Abbott, Eugene Atget, Ansel Adams, Bill Brandt, Brassai, Edward S. Curtis, Walker Evans, Milton Greene, Philippe Halsman, Lewis Hine, William Henry Jackson, Eva Rubentein, August Sander, Joseph Sudek and Todd Webb, as well as Barbara Morgan's famous image of Martha Graham, Letter to the World (The Kick).
Among the contemporary photo stars whose work will go on the block are Tom Baril, Elinor Carucci, Lois Greenfield, Michael Kenna, Mark Klett, George Tice, Jerry N. Uelsmann and William Wegman, while featured local luminaries include David Graham, Larry Fink, Martha Madigan, Ray K. Metzker and Ruth Thorne-Thomsen.
A preview will also be held at the Dorrance-Hamilton Building on Friday, November 4 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Saturday, November 4 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., just prior to the auction. Proceeds from the auction, a popular event since 1983, fund such activities as an annual juried competition for emerging photographers. Admission is free with purchase of the fully illustrated catalog, available through The Photo Review: phone: 215-891-0214 or you can email at email@example.com
. Buyers may now preview the auction online, and place bids at http://www.photoreview.org/
PRC HOLDS AUCTION OCT. 28;
On Friday, October 28, the Photographic Resource Center at Boston University will team up with Skinner Auctions for its annual benefit auction. Over 200 photographs will be auctioned off to benefit the PRC, a non-profit organization devoted to photography.
There is a reception/silent auction, which begins at 6:30 p.m., with a light buffet provided by East Meets West. The Live Auction starts at 8 p.m. The Silent Auction will close shortly after the completion of the Live Auction.
The auction admission is $50 per person and includes one copy of the auction catalogue, one paddle, light buffet and parking with advance reservations. Mastercard, Visa, checks, and cash is accepted. Call 1-617-975-0600 for reservations.
Auction catalogues are available for $10 per copy and they contain complete information and black and white images of all auction photographs. Call 1-617-975-0600 to order.
The preview will be held until October 23, 2005 at both the PRC and the 808 Gallery at Boston University.
Information along with an online catalogue can be found at http://www.bu.edu/prc/auction.htm
. Information on bidding is under the 05 catalogue page.
NEW SPECIAL EXHIBITS GO UP
ON IPHOTOCENTRAL WEBSITE
Two new Special Exhibits have just gone up on the I Photo Central website.
The first is by Charles Schwartz Ltd. and shows a wonderful selection of rarely seen 19th-century photographs of the first years of New York City's Central Park. It includes some of the first photographs taken of Central Park by Prevost. In addition other important and rare photographs by Holmes, Guild and Langenheim are included. Prices range from $75 to $15,000.
The second is sponsored by Vintage Works, Ltd. and features the new color work of Joel D. Levinson. This new work covers the English Gardens in Munich, Germany--a park known for its public-clothing-optional policy. The images detail the generally accepting and casual nature of people to the nudity in this park, largely desexualizing the context. This desexualization is fairly unique in contemporary art circles. Levinson's new Series is aptly named "After Eden".
In Levinson's words: "When I encountered the English Garden, I found a world I didn't know existed anywhere on this earth. Why is the English Garden unique? Words can only begin to explain. This haven is located in the middle of the city and people from all walks of life, cultures and nations are continuously passing through it. Above and beyond the park's physical beauty, are the people, whose freedom, friendliness and virtually complete unconsciousness of clothing or the idea that one is nude or naked I found to be genuinely sensual and inspiring, even if that was not their intention."
You can see these two fine exhibits, along with 43 others at: http://www.iphotocentral.com/showcase/showcase.php
We have also continued to change images and add to our essays for all our Special Exhibits, so they are worth another peek, especially if you have not looked lately. In addition, over 66 new images have been added in just the last month to the I Photo Central website.