Auction Results: Contemporary Photographs, October 5, 2021 @Sotheby’s

General sluggishness muted the results of the recent Contemporary Photographs sale at Sotheby’s. The top lot water tower typology by Bernd and Hilla Becher sold within its estimate range, but an overall Buy-In rate north of 30% and roughly a third of the works that found a buyer doing so below their estimate ranges combined to undermine the momentum. When the dust settled, the Total Sale Proceeds came in underneath 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 82
Aggregate Pre Sale Low Estimate $872000
Aggregate Pre Sale High Estimate $1293000
Total Lots Sold 56
Total Lots Bought In 26
Buy In % 31.71%
Total Sale Proceeds $833868

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

Detailed Breakdown
Low Total Lots 42
Total Low Lots Sold 26
Total Low Lots Bought In 16
Low Buy In % 38.10%
Aggregate High Estimate of Low Lots $285000
Total Proceeds from Low Lots $127638
Mid Total Lots 36
Total Mid Lots Sold 26
Total Mid Lots Bought In 10
Mid Buy In % 27.78%
Aggregate High Estimate of Mid Lots $648000
Total Proceeds from Mid Lots $397530
Total High Lots 4
Total High Lots Sold 4
Total High Lots Bought In 0
High Buy In % 0.00%
Aggregate High Estimate of High Lots $360000
Total Proceeds from High Lots $308700

The top lot by High estimate was lot 11, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Water Towers, 1963-80, estimated at $100000-150000; it was also the top outcome of the sale at $119700 (image above via Sotheby’s).

Just 64.29% 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 45, Sophie Calle, ‘Christmas wreaths, Saint Lucie, a nice dog, railroad stations, the Eiffel Tower, all of that is beautiful’ (from The Blind), 1986, estimated at $10000-15000, sold at $30240

The complete lot by lot results can be found here.

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Read more about: Bernd and Hilla Becher, Sophie Calle, Sotheby's

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