Auction Results: Fine Photographs, October 21, 2021 @Swann

Softness in the top lots dampened the otherwise respectable results of the Fine Photographs sale at Swann last week. With four out of the five highest priced lots failing to find buyers, even the solid overall Buy-In rate (roughly 20%) and plenty of positive surprises couldn’t balance the lost dollars. Tallied up, the Total Sale Proceeds (of roughly $1.1M) came in just 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 317
Aggregate Pre Sale Low Estimate $1218500
Aggregate Pre Sale High Estimate $1819150
Total Lots Sold 253
Total Lots Bought In 64
Buy In % 20.19%
Total Sale Proceeds $1150676

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

Detailed Breakdown
Low Total Lots 294
Total Low Lots Sold 237
Total Low Lots Bought In 57
Low Buy In % 19.39%
Aggregate High Estimate of Low Lots $1204150
Total Proceeds from Low Lots $872426
Mid Total Lots 21
Total Mid Lots Sold 16
Total Mid Lots Bought In 5
Mid Buy In % 23.81%
Aggregate High Estimate of Mid Lots $480000
Total Proceeds from Mid Lots $278250
Total High Lots 2
Total High Lots Sold 0
Total High Lots Bought In 0
High Buy In % 100.00%
Aggregate High Estimate of High Lots $135000
Total Proceeds from High Lots $0

The top lot by High estimate was lot 98, Dorothea Lange, Street Demonstration, San Francisco, 1936, estimated at $50000-75000; it did not sell. The top outcome of the sale was lot 4, Martin Chambi, Thick presentation album entitled Peru, 1947. Congreso Panamericano de Arquitectos. With 104 original photographs, 22 by Chambi, 1947, estimated at $20000-30000, sold at $40000 (image above, via Swann).

71.15% of the lots that sold had proceeds in or above the estimate range and there were a total of 14 positive surprises in the sale (defined as having proceeds of at least double the high estimate). Three of these lots were vernacular imagery (lot 110, War on Poverty, lot 122, Mugshots – Prohibition, lot 186 Artists – 19th Century). The 11 positive surprises in fine photographs/photobooks were as follows (images above via Swann):

Lot 11, William Henry Jackson, The Yosemite Falls, c1898, estimated at $2000-3000, sold at $6750

Lot 15, E.J. Bellocq, Storyville portrait, 1911-13/1970s, estimated at $1200-1800, sold at $4000

Lot 88, Wendell MacRae, Row of Empty Stools and Typewriters * Dupont Dyes (two prints), c1933, estimated at $1800-2200, sold at $5750

Lot 113, Gordon Parks, Poverty, Mother and child, Puerto Rico, 1949, estimated at $1000-1500, sold at $3750

Lot 136, Art Kane, Great Day in Harlem, 1958, estimated at $1000-1500, sold at $4000

Lot 137, Elliott Erwitt, California Kiss, 1955/1990s, estimated at $2000-3000, sold at $6240

Lot 179, André Kertész, Still life heart Polaroid, 1981, estimated at $1000-1500, sold at $3900

Lot 205, Gordon Parks, Muhammad Ali, 1966/1990s, estimated at $2000-3000, sold at $7000

Lot 213, George Platt Lynes, Male nude study, 1954, estimated at $1500-2500, sold at $6500

Lot 217, PaJaMa, George Tooker, Paul Cadmus, George Platt Lynes, and Monroe Wheeler on a beach, c1947, estimated at $1800-2200, sold at $4500

Lot 248, Peter Hujar, Electric Cow, 1978/1980s, estimated at $5000-7000, sold at $18750

The complete lot by lot results can be found here.

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Read more about: André Kertész, Art Kane, E. J. Bellocq, Elliott Erwitt, George Platt Lynes, Gordon Parks, Martin Chambi, PaJaMa (Paul Cadmus, Jared French, Margaret French), Peter Hujar, Wendell MacRae, William Henry Jackson, Swann Auction Galleries

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