Even though there were ostensibly plenty of masterworks of photography on offer, the New York half of the 50 Masterworks to Celebrate 50 Years of Sotheby’s Photographs sale was largely carried by a single lot. The gathering of William Henry Fox Talbot images and materials (on offer from the descendants of his sister Horatia) was truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for museums, dealers, and collectors interested in early photography to gain wide access to rare prints, books, and perfect provenance artistic ephemera. It isn’t at all surprising that the trove jumped up to nearly $2M (against a conservative pre-sale estimate of $300000-500000), especially when the various pieces/groupings are valued individually.
After that excitement, the rest of sale was decidedly more muted. The original top lot Ansel Adams vintage Moonrise print didn’t sell, and the overall Buy-In rate for the sale was surprisingly high (over 35%). In the end, buoyed by the Talbot material and a $500K outcome for a 1930 Lee Miller nude, the Total Sale Proceeds for the first half of the two-part sale came in at roughly $3.7M, in the middle of the aggregate pre-sale estimate range.
The summary statistics are below (all results include the buyer’s premium):
|Aggregate Pre Sale Low Estimate||$3117000|
|Aggregate Pre Sale High Estimate||$4693000|
|Total Lots Sold||16|
|Total Lots Bought In||9|
|Buy In %||36.00%|
|Total Sale Proceeds||$3696060|
Here is the breakdown (using our typical Low, Mid, and High definitions):
|Low Total Lots||0|
|Total Low Lots Sold||NA|
|Total Low Lots Bought In||NA|
|Low Buy In %||NA|
|Aggregate High Estimate of Low Lots||$0|
|Total Proceeds from Low Lots||$0|
|Mid Total Lots||9|
|Total Mid Lots Sold||6|
|Total Mid Lots Bought In||3|
|Mid Buy In %||33.33%|
|Aggregate High Estimate of Mid Lots||$303000|
|Total Proceeds from Mid Lots||$146160|
|Total High Lots||16|
|Total High Lots Sold||10|
|Total High Lots Bought In||6|
|High Buy In %||37.50%|
|Aggregate High Estimate of High Lots||$4390000|
|Total Proceeds from High Lots||$3549900|
The top lot by High estimate was lot 6, Ansel Adams, Moonrise, Hernandez, NM, 1941/1942, estimated at $500000-700000; it did not sell. The top outcome of the sale was lot 11, William Henry Fox Talbot, William Henry Fox Talbot’s Gifts to his Sister: Horatia Gaisford’s Collection of Photographs and Ephemera, 1820-1824, 1844, 1845-1846, estimated at $300000-500000, sold at $1956000 (image above, via Sotheby’s).
87.50% of the lots that sold had proceeds in or above the estimate range and there was just 1 positive surprise in the sale (defined as having proceeds of at least double the high estimate) (image above via Sotheby’s):
Lot 11, William Henry Fox Talbot, William Henry Fox Talbot’s Gifts to his Sister: Horatia Gaisford’s Collection of Photographs and Ephemera, 1820-1824, 1844, 1845-1846, estimated at $300000-500000, sold at $1956000
The complete lot by lot results can be found here.