Auction Results: Collection Kaspar M. Fleischmann vendue au profit du Centre de Photographie de l’Université de Zurich, November 13, 2014 @Christie’s Paris

It is probably every collector’s secret dream to have an auction of quality material turn out to be both lightly attended and unexpectedly brought to market with low/no reserve prices, leaving a wealth of photography available at staggeringly affordable prices. But this strange dream scenario seems to have actually somehow come true at the Fleischmann sale at Christie’s during Paris Photo.

According to one dealer who was in the room, given the healthy estimates, many dealers and collectors had only looked at a few select lots, checking those that they were most interested in. So when the first few lots came up for sale and hammered down well below their estimate ranges, there was apparent widespread exasperation in the room – if only they had taken the time to review more of the lots, they would have been able to take advantage of the crazy prices. But without that homework done, dealers and collectors were left hamstrung – was this lesser known Bing hammering down near zero because it had major condition problems or because nobody bothered to look at it given a too-high estimate?

When the dust settled, roughly 50% of the lots that sold found buyers below their estimate ranges, so there were absolutely some unbelievable bargains to be had at this sale for those who were on the ball. With more than 40% of the lots buying in, the Total Sale Proceeds came in far under the pre-sale estimate range. For the consignor, this has to have been a major disappointment.

My reaction to this very odd story is that I can’t imagine why Christie’s didn’t communicate the no/low reserve situation; had they made it more widely known, they would have stimulated bidding/research not dampened it. It’s a headshaking mystery, and was a drop-in-your-lap gift for those who came prepared.

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

Summary Statistics
Total Lots 148
Aggregate Pre Sale Low Estimate €1450000
Aggregate Pre Sale High Estimate €2090000
Total Lots Sold 87
Total Lots Bought In 61
Buy In % 41.22%
Total Sale Proceeds €1000250

Here is the breakdown (using the Low, Mid, and High definitions from the preview post):

Detailed Breakdown
Low Total Lots 83
Total Low Lots Sold 57
Total Low Lots Bought In 26
Low Buy In % 31.33%
Aggregate High Estimate of Low Lots €478000
Total Proceeds from Low Lots €249500
Mid Total Lots 56
Total Mid Lots Sold 42
Total Mid Lots Bought In 14
Mid Buy In % 25.00%
Aggregate High Estimate of Mid Lots €782000
Total Proceeds from Mid Lots €390750
Total High Lots 9
Total High Lots Sold 5
Total High Lots Bought In 4
High Buy In % 44.44%
Aggregate High Estimate of High Lots €830000
Total Proceeds from High Lots €360000

The top lot by High estimate was tied between two lots: lot 74, Edward Weston, Head of an Italian Girl (Tina Modotti), 1921, and lot 85, (Alfred Stieglitz), Camera Work (complete set), 1903-1917, both estimated at €150000-200000. The Weston sold for €169500 and was the top outcome of the sale, while the Camera Work set did not sell.

A surprisingly low 50.57% of the lots that sold had proceeds in or above the estimate range and there were a total of 5 surprises in the sale (defined as having proceeds of at least double the high estimate):

Lot 30, Eugene Atget, Mitron, 1899, estimated at €10000-15000, sold at €32500 (image above, left, via Christie’s)

Lot 76, Heinrich Kühn, Edeltrude mit Hut, 1910, estimated at €2000-3000, sold at €8125

Lot 77, Heinrich Kühn, Mary Warner und Hans Kühn, 1906, estimated at €2000-3000, sold at €6250

Lot 83, Edward Steichen, Moonlight: The Pond, 1906, estimated at €2000-3000, sold at €17500 (image above, middle, via Christie’s)

Lot 148, Ernst Haas, The Creation, 1981, estimated at €4000-6000, sold at €19375 (image above, right, via Christie’s)

Complete lot by lot results can be found here.

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