Auction Results: Classic & Contemporary Photographs, February 25, 2020 @Swann

The recent volatility in the stock markets can’t have helped the mood at the combination fine/vernacular photographs sale earlier this week at Swann. While the top lots (Steichen and Bourke-White) did find buyers above their estimate ranges, the rest of the sale was a bit soft, with fewer positive surprises than in past seasons. The overall Buy-In rate came in at just over a third, leading to Total Sale Proceeds of roughly $1M, below the low end of the aggregate pre-sale estimate range.

The summary statistics are below (all results include the buyer’s premium):

Summary Statistics
Total Lots 334
Aggregate Pre Sale Low Estimate $1241050
Aggregate Pre Sale High Estimate $1840550
Total Lots Sold 222
Total Lots Bought In 112
Buy In % 33.53%
Total Sale Proceeds $1062934

Here is the breakdown (using our typical Low, Mid, and High price range definitions):

Detailed Breakdown
Low Total Lots 309
Total Low Lots Sold 208
Total Low Lots Bought In 101
Low Buy In % 32.69%
Aggregate High Estimate of Low Lots $1255550
Total Proceeds from Low Lots $759184
Mid Total Lots 23
Total Mid Lots Sold 12
Total Mid Lots Bought In 11
Mid Buy In % 47.83%
Aggregate High Estimate of Mid Lots $435000
Total Proceeds from Mid Lots $141250
Total High Lots 2
Total High Lots Sold 2
Total High Lots Bought In 0
High Buy In % 0.00%
Aggregate High Estimate of High Lots $150000
Total Proceeds from High Lots $162500

The top lot by High estimate was tied between two lots: lot 36, Edward Steichen, White Lotus, 1939/1940, and lot 130, Margaret Bourke-White, The George Washington Bridge, 1933, both estimated at $50000-75000; the two lots also tied for the top outcome of the sale at $81250 each (images above, via Swann).

81.53% of the lots that sold had proceeds in or above the estimate range and there were a total of 7 positive surprises in the sale (defined as having proceeds of at least double the high estimate). Two of these lots came in the vernacular imagery section (lot 264 Suffragists, lot 277 Boulder Dam – Hoover Dam). The 5 positive surprises in fine photographs were as follows (images above via Swann):

Lot 1, Alexander Hesler/George B. Ayres, Portrait of Abraham Lincoln, 1860/c1900, estimated at $1500-2500, sold at $5000

Lot 4, Pach Bros., Portrait of Booker T. Washington, c1900/1960s, estimated at $400-600, sold at $1750

Lot 90, Arthur Leipzig, Divers, East River, 1948/1970s, estimated at $1000-1500, sold at $3000

Lot 184, Philippe Halsman, Andy Warhol, 1968/1988, estimated at $1500-2500, sold at $5500

Lot 190, Bruce Weber, Rob and Little Bear at the entrance to Bear Pond, Adirondacks, NY., 1989, estimated at $2500-3500, sold at $7000

The complete lot by lot results can be found here.

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Read more about: Arthur Leipzig, Bruce Weber, Edward Steichen, Margaret Bourke-White, Philippe Halsman, Swann Auction Galleries

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