Issue #204  7/1/2014
Christie's Spring Various Owners Sale Tops $4.2 million

By Stephen Perloff
Editor of The Photograph Collector and Photo Review

In the various owners session, the first significant lot was bought by a man in the room who was reading "The Crowded Grave" by Martin Walker and who looked up only when he reached the lots on the pages where he had folded down the corners of his catalogue. He paid $112,500 for Irving Penn's Anemone/Anemone Coronaria: Inra Blue (New York), 2006, good for ninth place on the top ten, but he lost out to a phone bidder for Penn's Poppy: Burgundy, New York, 1968, at $87,500.

A Peter Beard of Orphaned Cheetah Cubs ($150,000–$250,000) failed to find a home as it passed at $120,000. But two Nick Brandt's did well, Leopard Staring, Masai Mara, 2010, at $75,000, and Elephant Drinking, Amboseli, 2007, at $62,500.

The cover lot, Philippe Halsman's Marilyn Monroe, 1952, sold to order at $87,500. Then two heavyweights traded big hits. Irving Penn's Woman with Roses on Her Arm (Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn), 1950, was escorted to fifth place at $185,000.

Richard Avedon's Dovima with Elephants, Evening Dress by Dior, Cirque d'Hiver, Paris, August 1955, was claimed by an order bidder at $62,500. Then Penn's Two Liqueurs, New York, 1951, found a bid at $118,750, eighth place. And Avedon's Nastassja Kinski and the Serpent, Los Angeles, California, June 14, 1981, slithered into seventh place at $137,000.

In the afternoon session, Harry Callahan's Eleanor, Chicago, c. 1950, sold for $56,250. Pierre Dubreuil's montaged Notre Dame de Paris, 1908, rang out a bid of $75,000, under estimate. Edward Weston's Dunes, Oceano, 1936, also sold under estimate as dealer Tom Gitterman finally gave in to an order bidder at $56,250.

Peter Beard's Giraffes in Mirage on the Taru Desert, Kenya, June 1960, was taken by an Internet bidder at $87,500. Dorothea Lange's White Angel Breadline, 1933, printed in the 1950s, found sustenance at $87,500.

Irving Penn's Frozen Foods sold for a frosty $191,000.
Irving Penn's Frozen Foods sold for a frosty $191,000.

Irving Penn solidified his place near the top of the hill as his Single Oriental Poppy (New York), 1968, went to the phones at $68,750; his Nude 58, 1949-1950, went over estimate at $52,500; and his Black and White ‘Vogue' Cover (Jean Patchett), New York, 1950, claimed sixth place at $161,000.

No surprise, two Francesca Woodman prints did well. Both were listed as Untitled (Self-Portrait), 1977-1978, and both went to the phones, the first for $68,750 over the bid of Kevin Moore, and the second for $81,250. Irving Penn's Frozen Foods ($60,000–$80,000) defrosted a bidder's wallet to the tune of $191,000, for fourth place. That was a record for this image at auction.

Among the more contemporary pictures, Rineke Dijkstra's Kolobrzeg, Poland, 26 July 1992, fetched $50,000. Desiree Dolron's Xteriors IV, 2001, brought $93,750. And Vik Muniz's Amore and Psyche, after Francois Gerard, from Pictures of Junk, 2009, sold for $56,250.

The various owners session totaled $4,230,687 with a rather steep buy-in rate of 28.8%. Together the two sales brought in $6,375,563 with a 27% buy-in rate.

Laura Paterson, Photographs Specialist, New York, remarked, "We are very pleased with the results of the dedicated auction of photographs by Ansel Adams. The strong prices achieved by the sale are indicative of the demand for the artist's extremely rare and technically flawless mural prints."

Philippe Garner, International Head of Photographs and the sale's Auctioneer, continued, "The Photographs auction saw enthusiasm from the international marketplace that ranged across period and style. Artists whose work commanded particularly strong prices included Irving Penn, Francesca Woodman and Desiree Dolron. We were also delighted by the success of the works from the David C. and Sarajean Ruttenberg Arts Foundation, which realized a combined total of $401,063. This selection of works was led by Richard Avedon's Nastassja Kinski and the Ser- pent, Los Angeles, California, June 14, 1981, which realized $137,000."

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.