Auction Results: Classic Photographs, October 1, 2020 @Sotheby’s

The top price tier proved to be the downfall of the recent Classic Photographs sale at Sotheby’s in New York. Both top lots failed to sell, and more than 70% of the lots on offer in the highest price tier went unsold. With few positive surprises elsewhere in the sale, the Total Sale Proceeds (of roughly $1.1M) fell well 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 107
Aggregate Pre Sale Low Estimate $2191500
Aggregate Pre Sale High Estimate $3378500
Total Lots Sold 65
Total Lots Bought In 42
Buy In % 39.25%
Total Sale Proceeds $1158318

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

Detailed Breakdown
Low Total Lots 50
Total Low Lots Sold 35
Total Low Lots Bought In 15
Low Buy In % 30.00%
Aggregate High Estimate of Low Lots $405500
Total Proceeds from Low Lots $249984
Mid Total Lots 46
Total Mid Lots Sold 27
Total Mid Lots Bought In 19
Mid Buy In % 41.30%
Aggregate High Estimate of Mid Lots $983000
Total Proceeds from Mid Lots $467334
Total High Lots 11
Total High Lots Sold 3
Total High Lots Bought In 8
High Buy In % 72.73%
Aggregate High Estimate of High Lots $1990000
Total Proceeds from High Lots $441000

The top lot by High estimate was tied between two lots, each estimated at $300000-500000: lot 9, Diane Arbus, A Family on their Lawn One Sunday in Westchester, N.Y., 1968, and lot 23, Helmut Newton, Charlotte Rampling at the Hotel Nord Pinus II, Arles, 1973/later. Neither print found a buyer. The top outcome of the sale was lot 67, Ansel Adams, Clearing Winter Storm, Yosemite National Park, California, 1937/late 1930s or early 1940s, estimated at $200000-300000, sold at $277200 (image above via Sotheby’s.)

78.46% of the lots that sold had proceeds in or above the estimate range and there were just 2 positive surprises in the sale (defined as having proceeds of at least double the high estimate) (images above via Sotheby’s):

Lot 13, Horace Bristol, Pby Blister Gunner, Rescue at Rabaul, 1944/later, estimated at $8000-12000, sold at $27720

Lot 82, Dorothea Lange, Maynard Dixon, 1929, estimated at $6000-9000, sold at $22680

The complete lot by lot results can be found here.

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Read more about: Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, Horace Bristol, Sotheby's

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