Issue #210  12/21/2014
Christie's NY Various Owners Sale Does a Bit Better at $2,740,750 with 30.3% Buy-In Rate

By Stephen Perloff
Editor of The Photograph Collector

The Various Owners Sale took place in a parallel dimension, as there were 44 people in their seats as the first hammer fell, and 56 people just a few lots in. (This declined to 29 half-way through the sale and 18 towards the end.) But overall the whole vibe was much more energized.

The Top Lot, Edward Weston's Nautilus Shell, sold for $461,000
The Top Lot, Edward Weston's Nautilus Shell, sold for $461,000

Irving Penn's Black and White 'Vogue' Cover, New York, 1950 ($80,000–$120,000), went to the phones at just over the high estimate—$161,000 and good for eighth place. Ray Metzker's Nude Composite: Philadelphia, 1966 ($40,000-$60,000), went to the phone over the underbid of collector Christopher Luce for $68,750. The market is finally catching on to this Philadelphia master who died just last month. Irving Penn's Cigarette, #37, New York, 1972 ($25,000–$35,000), burnt a hole in the pocket of an order bidder at $62,500.

A phone bidder picked up the cover lot, Edward Weston's Nautilus Shell, 1927 ($300,000–$500,000), for $461,000, just under the midpoint of the estimate, but clearly the top lot of the day. But Ansel Adams's Moonrise, Hernandez, Northern New Mexico, 1941 ($40,000–$60,000), suffered a rare pass, as it bought in.

Peter MacGill stopped short of an order bidder who took Richard Avedon's Louis Armstrong, 1955 ($30,000–$50,000), for $62,500. Robert Frank's Hoboken N.J., 1955 (the flag obscuring the face in the window, $100,000–$150,000), passed, but Frank's Family, 1956 ($40,000–$60,000), went to a phone at the low estimate, $50,000. This time, Peter MacGill, on a cell phone, prevailed as he claimed William Eggleston's Untitled (Memphis), 1970 (the woman in the blue dress sitting on a curb, $200,000-$300,000), for $233,000, just under low estimate fifth place.

Both Charles Sheeler's Ford Plant, River Rouge, Steam Hydraulic Shear, 1927 ($150,000–250,000) and Richard Avedon's Avedon Paris ($200,000–$300,000), failed to find buyers. But the order bidder who won Avedon's Louis Armstrong then captured Irving Penn's Picasso (B) Cannes, 1957 ($70,000-$90,000), at $93,750.

Peter Beard's Tsavo Tusker, on the Athi-Tiva River, 1965 ($200,000–$300,000), and Robert Mapplethorpe's Flowers portfolio ($60,000–$80,000), both bought in, as did a Mapplethorpe Calla Lilly, 1986 ($70,000–$90,000). But Irving Penn again restored order as his Woman with Roses on Her Arm, Paris, 1950 ($150,000–$250,000), brought $173,000, under estimate, but seventh place in the sale. And the last notable lot in the Various Owners' sale, Hiroshi Sugimoto's World Trade Center—Minoru Yamazaki, 1997 ($40,000–$60,000), went to a phone bidder at $68,750.

This portion of the sale totaled $2,740,750 with a 30.3% buy-in rate. Thirteen lots sold over the high estimates, 31 sold under the low estimates, and 41 within the estimates; 43 went to the phones, 16 to order, 11 online, and 15 sold in the room.

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, 140 East Richardson Ave, Langhorne, PA 19047. Or to order The Photograph Collector Newsletter online, go to: http://www.photoreview.org/wordpressindex/shop/.