Issue #202  5/1/2014
Markets Strong as Auctions Do Relatively Well, Dealers Report Up Tick, and AIPAD Opens Strongly

By Alex Novak

The New York auctions continue to have strong results despite material being largely mediocre and overpriced this time around. Considering that most of the Spring auctions seemed to have the least interesting material in years and that there was only one separate single-owner catalogue, the sales totals were very strong indeed. Despite being $8 million less than last year's record totals, this year's totals were impressive, because neither Phillips nor Christie's had a single-owner sale this Spring. That took about $12 million out of the totals from last Spring, so sales still look quite high.

Phillips had totals of $6.4 million on only its multi-owner sale. It didn't even have a single-owner sale to get this result; that nearly doubled last year's multi-owner auction sales from the previous Spring.

Sotheby's did have a single-owner sale—and some of the best material in this round of auctions largely because of it. It did over $5.4 million just on the single-owner sale, and then proceeded to add just over another $4 million, to total well over $9.4 million with over 24 photographs selling for over $100,000. It was the big winner this time out, largely on the basis of the private owner auction, which more than doubled the results of last year's single-owner sale.

Christie's put together two auctions: one a special focus, like the house has been doing lately, this time on Ansel Adams; and the regular multi-owner sale. The totals for the two sales ($2,144,875 and $4,230,687) put Christie's into a virtual tie for second place with Phillips' one-sale totals at just below the $6.4 million total mark.

Combined the three big houses scored over $22.2 million this Spring. That doesn't count Christie's exclusively online Paris sale. As they say, that ain't chopped liver. We'll have more complete reports in later newsletters.

AIPAD exhibitors did record business in 2013 and generally had solid results this year.
AIPAD exhibitors did record business in 2013 and generally had solid results this year.

Galleries are also reporting strong sales coming out of the Winter blues that affected much of the country, particularly the Northeast and Midwest, which were hit with a continuing series of storms.

My own business, which is largely web-based, actually saw sales increases over the last 12 months and this Winter, except for the interruption to business last October and early November that was self-inflicted by the Republicans in the U.S. Congress who shut down both the government and our economy for that period.

AIPAD's show in New York has undoubtedly added another boost to the photography market, although a more modest one certainly than last year. In 2013 dealers across the board did very well here with what might have been an overall sales record for the show; and while most exhibitors had very respectable results this year, the top end sales were affected by the steep stock market decline the week of the fair (the stock market bounced back but the week AFTER the show), plus the previous week's auctions, which took over $22 million out of the market.

Again, the next newsletter will have complete AIPAD Show and auction coverage.