Issue #181  5/31/2011
Christie's New York's Two Single-Owner Sales Bring in a Total of Nearly $2.8 Million With Mapplethorpe Flag The Top Lot At $158,500

By Stephen Perloff
Editor of The Photograph Collector and Photo Review

On April 7 Christie's held two single-owner sales: "The Feminine Ideal: An Important Collection of Photographs" and "Crossing America: Photographs from the Consolidated Freightways Collection, Part I." Here, too, the sales were more sparsely attended than usual. The morning began with 16 people in the audience--later growing to 20 people--and 13 people on the phones in a room with 108 seats plus another 10 in the very back.

But again, bidding on the phone and through the internet compensated for the lack of bodies in the room as the first sale realized $942,125 with an 18% buy-in rate. Condition was often an issue on this collection.

The top three lots in the first sale were all by Irving Penn: Balenciaga Mantle Coat (Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn), Paris, 1950, ($40,000-$60,000) took the top spot at $80,500, selling to a European phone bidder; Woman in Feather Hat, New York, November 1991, a platinum-palladium print, ($20,000–$30,000) was fought over by five or six different bidders and finally went to an online bidder over the phones $68,500; and Woman with Umbrella (Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn), New York, 1950, a gelatin silver print, printed 1984 ($30,000–$50,000) went to a private collector in the room at $60,000.

Other top lots in the session included: Irving Penn's Cigarette No.69, which sold for $37,500; Philippe Halsman's Marilyn Jumping, which sold to a single phone bidder for $40,000; Robert Mapplethorpe's Sonia Resika, which sold to an order bidder for $43,750 (more than double the low estimate); and Weegee's Nude, circa 1950s, which sold online over the high estimate at $47,500.

Works by Louise Dahl-Wolfe, Jeanloup Sieff, Erwin Blumenfeld, and Norman Parkinson all more than doubled their high estimates.

The audience grew in the afternoon to 39 people for Christie's second single-owner sale. Robert Mapplethorpe's Flag, 1987 ($70,000-$90,000), was the top lot at $158,500. Dorothea Lange's Migrant Mother, 1936 ($30,000-$50,000), followed at $134,500 as Bruce Silverstein fought off stiff competition from Howard Greenberg and Paul Hertzmann. Cindy Sherman's Untitled Film Still #55, 1980 (underestimated at $20,000-$30,000) tied that price.

Garry Winogrand's 1960's print (lot 216) went for four times the low estimate at $40,000. David Hockney's Merced River, Yosemite Valley, September 1982 ($8,000-$12,000) went to a phone bidder for $40,000 over dealer Alex Novak's underbidding. Bruce Silverstein took Stieglitz's Equivalent for $43,750. And Jeffrey Fraenkel went over estimate to $56,250 for Robert Adams's Berthoud, CO, 1976, from Summer Nights.

The last lot of the sale, Robert Frank's U.S. 285, New Mexico, 1955, ($50,000-$70,000) claimed $110,500.

The sale totaled $1,838,438 and had a meager 15% buy-in rate.

(Copyright ©2011 by The Photograph Collector.)

My thanks to Steve Perloff and The Photograph Collector Newsletter for giving me permission to use this information. The Photograph Collector, which is a wonderful newsletter that I can heartily recommend, is published monthly and is available by subscription for $149.95. You can phone 1-215-891-0214 and charge your subscription or send a check or money order to: The Photograph Collector, 340 East Maple Ave., Suite 200, Langhorne, PA 19047. Or to order The Photograph Collector Newsletter online, go to: http://www.photoreview.org.