Auction Results: Classic Photographs, October 3, 2019 @Sotheby’s

The photographs in the recent Classic Photographs sale at Sotheby’s in New York largely performed to expectations. As a group, the lots in the top price tier sold well, and a Francesca Woodman print soared to $200K. With a Buy-In rate of a third, the Total Sale Proceeds came in at a respectable $2.4M, above the low end of aggregate pre-sale estimate range. To compare totals with the other auction houses, this tally should be added to the $1.9M of results from Sotheby’s Contemporary Photographs sale (results here) which took place earlier in the season.

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

Summary Statistics
Total Lots 138
Aggregate Pre Sale Low Estimate $2052000
Aggregate Pre Sale High Estimate $3059000
Total Lots Sold 92
Total Lots Bought In 46
Buy In % 33.33%
Total Sale Proceeds $2382250

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

Detailed Breakdown
Low Total Lots 61
Total Low Lots Sold 38
Total Low Lots Bought In 23
Low Buy In % 37.70%
Aggregate High Estimate of Low Lots $484000
Total Proceeds from Low Lots $257250
Mid Total Lots 66
Total Mid Lots Sold 44
Total Mid Lots Bought In 22
Mid Buy In % 33.33%
Aggregate High Estimate of Mid Lots $1535000
Total Proceeds from Mid Lots $1121250
Total High Lots 11
Total High Lots Sold 10
Total High Lots Bought In 1
High Buy In % 9.09%
Aggregate High Estimate of High Lots $1040000
Total Proceeds from High Lots $1003750

The top lot by High estimate was tied between five lots, each estimated at $80000-120000, and while all five found buyers but none was the top outcome: lot 108, Diane Arbus, Widow in her Bedroom, 55th Street, NYC, 1962, sold at $81250; lot 112, Richard Avedon, Marian Anderson, Contralto, New York, 1955, sold at $87500; lot 149, Walker Evans, Floyd Burroughs, A Cotton Sharecropper, Hale County, Alabama, 1936, sold at $150000; lot 197, Man Ray, Rayograph, 1931, sold at $75000; and lot 208, Robert Mapplethorpe, Tulips, 1988, sold at $93750. The top outcome of the sale was lot 121, Francesca Woodman, Polka Dots, 1976, estimated at $50000-70000, sold at $200000 (image above via Sotheby’s.)

83.70% of the lots that sold had proceeds in or above the estimate range and there were a total of 6 positive surprises in the sale (defined as having proceeds of at least double the high estimate) (images above via Sotheby’s):

Lot 107, Diane Arbus, Jim Warren’s Famous Monsters Fan Club, Queens, New York Chapter, 1962, estimated at $15000-25000, sold at $50000

Lot 117, Lewis Baltz, Santa Cruz, 1970, estimated at $20000-30000, sold at $68750

Lot 121, Francesca Woodman, Polka Dots, 1976, estimated at $50000-70000, sold at $200000

Lot 122, Francesca Woodman, Untitled (Self-Portrait, Shells), 1979-1980, estimated at $2000-3000, sold at $11875

Lot 156, W. Eugene Smith, The Walk to Paradise Garden, 1946/later, estimated at $5000-7000, sold at $20000

Lot 194, Harold Edgerton, Harold Edgerton: Ten Dye Transfer Photographs, 1938-1973/1985, estimated at $10000-15000, sold at $60000

The complete lot by lot results can be found here.

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Read more about: Diane Arbus, Francesca Woodman, Harold Edgerton, Lewis Baltz, W. Eugene Smith, Sotheby's

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