Auction Results: Modern Visions: Exceptional Photographs, February 17 and 18, 2016 @Christie’s

The results from Christie’s recent Modern Visions: Exceptional Photographs sale last week were surprisingly strong. As has been reported elsewhere in fuller detail, the lots in this sale came from the collection of Phil Rivkin and were part of a forced government sale associated with charges of fraud. As a result, many of the lots were offered with low or no reserve. This produced some skewed results. On one hand, the overall Buy-In rate was very low for such a large sale (under 10%); on the other, nearly a third of the lots that did sell found buyers for prices under the pre-sale reserve, so there were some bargains to be had for those who did the work to look closely and assess condition carefully.

What really drove the success of this sale were the large number of positive surprises, a total of 32 in all, at all price levels. Brancusi prints continued to soar to frothy heights, and exceptional vintage material from Lange, Strand, Stieglitz, and others drew meaningful attention. Overall, the Total Sale Proceeds came in at roughly $8.9M, well above the aggregate pre-sale estimate range.

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

Summary Statistics
Total Lots 279
Aggregate Pre Sale Low Estimate $5357500
Aggregate Pre Sale High Estimate $8050000
Total Lots Sold 252
Total Lots Bought In 27
Buy In % 9.68%
Total Sale Proceeds $8888940

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

Detailed Breakdown
Low Total Lots 122
Total Low Lots Sold 113
Total Low Lots Bought In 9
Low Buy In % 7.38%
Aggregate High Estimate of Low Lots $748000
Total Proceeds from Low Lots $738690
Mid Total Lots 132
Total Mid Lots Sold 116
Total Mid Lots Bought In 16
Mid Buy In % 12.12%
Aggregate High Estimate of Mid Lots $3052000
Total Proceeds from Mid Lots $3246500
Total High Lots 25
Total High Lots Sold 23
Total High Lots Bought In 2
High Buy In % 8.00%
Aggregate High Estimate of High Lots $4250000
Total Proceeds from High Lots $4903750

The top lot by High estimate was lot 4, Edward Steichen, In Memoriam, 1901/1904-1905, estimated at $400000-600000; it sold for $665000 (image in preview post). The top outcome of the sale was lot 18, Gustave Le Gray, Bateaux Quittant le Port du Havre (Navires de la Flotte de Napoleon III), 1856-1857, estimated at $300000-500000, sold at $965000 (image in preview post).

Only 67.86% of the lots that sold had proceeds in or above the estimate range, but there were a total of 32 positive surprises in the sale (defined as having proceeds of at least double the high estimate) (images above via Christie’s):

Lot 12, F. Holland Day, Untitled (Maynard White/Sailor on Rock, Torso), c1910, estimated at $10000-15000, sold at $42500

Lot 16, Alfred Stieglitz, The Flat-Iron, 1903, estimated at $25000-35000, sold at $87500

Lot 21, Ben Shahn, Men with Hats, Listening, 1934, estimated at $8000-12000, sold at $27500

Lot 28, Paul Strand, Taos, New Mexico, Ranchos Church #2, 1931, estimated at $30000-50000, sold at $106250

Lot 44, Constantin Brancusi, L’Atelier, c1927, estimated at $40000-60000, sold at $197000

Lot 45, Constantin Brancusi, Mademoiselle Pogany II, 1920, estimated at $30000-50000, sold at $106250

Lot 51, František Drtikol, Nude, 1927, estimated at $15000-25000, sold at $50000

Lot 53, Ilse Bing, Cancan, Moulin Rouge, Paris, 1931/1941, estimated at $6000-8000, sold at $16250

Lot 55, Heinz Hajek-Halke, Erotik – ganz gross!, 1928-1932, estimated at $15000-20000, sold at $47500

Lot 63, Dorothea Lange, Migrant Mother, 1936, estimated at $80000-120000, sold at $389000

Lot 119, František Drtikol, Mother Earth, c1931, estimated at $2000-3000, sold at $6875

Lot 126, Constantin Brancusi, (bois) Mme. L.R., 1914, estimated at $10000-15000, sold at $112500

Lot 127, Constantin Brancusi, Self-Portrait in his Studio, c1922, estimated at $10000-15000, sold at $100000

Lot 128, Constantin Brancusi, Femme se regardant dans un miroir, 1909, estimated at $10000-15000, sold at $43750

Lot 130, Henry Moore, Four Part Leaf Figure, 1952, estimated at $2000-3000, sold at $16250

Lot 139, Jaroslav Rossler, Egg and Eiffel Tower, c1930, estimated at $5000-7000, sold at $30000

Lot 140, Alexander Rodchenko, Glass and Light, 1927, estimated at $5000-7000, sold at $15000

Lot 143, Ilse Bing, From My Window, New York, 1951, estimated at $1500-2000, sold at $6000

Lot 145, Ilse Bing, Chair with Dead Leaves, Jardin de Luxembourg, Paris, 1952, estimated at $1500-2000, sold at $7500

Lot 163, Josef Sudek, From the series ‘The Window of my Studio’, 1950, estimated at $6000-8000, sold at $40000

Lot 171, Josef Sudek, From the series ‘In the Magic Garden’, 1950s, estimated at $6000-8000, sold at $17500

Lot 197, Edward Weston, Nude on Sand, Oceano, 1936, estimated at $10000-15000, sold at $45000

Lot 203, Eugène Atget, Pont des Tuileries, 1911, estimated at $8000-10000, sold at $20000

Lot 210, David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson, Miss Munro, daughter of Sheriff Munro, c1845, estimated at $1000-1500, sold at $3000

Lot 214, Adolphe Braun, Basel, View from the Hôtel des Trois Rois, c1870, estimated at $2000-3000, sold at $8125

Lot 226, Gertrude Käsebier, Happy Days, 1903, estimated at $15000-20000, sold at $40000

Lot 239, Heinrich Kühn, Study in Tonal Values III (Mary Warner), c1910, estimated at $6000-8000, sold at $35000

Lot 254, Alfred Stieglitz, Winter – Fifth Avenue, 1893, estimated at $15000-20000, sold at $65000

Lot 263, Arthur Rothstein, Saloon, Silver Peak, Nevada, 1940, estimated at $1500-2000, sold at $6875

Lot 266, Paul Strand, The Lighthouse, Prospect Harbor, Maine, 1945, estimated at $10000-15000, sold at $43750

Lot 274, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Rue Mouffetard, 1954/later, estimated at $12000-18000, sold at $37500

Lot 285, Diane Arbus, Mia Villiers-Farrow on a bed, 1964, estimated at $5000-7000, sold at $16250

The complete lot by lot results can be found here.

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Read more about: Adolphe Braun, Aleksandr Rodchenko, Alfred Stieglitz, Arthur Rothstein, Ben Shahn, Constantin Brancusi, David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson, Diane Arbus, Dorothea Lange, Edward Steichen, Edward Weston, Eugène Atget, F. Holland Day, František Drtikol, Gertrude Käsebier, Gustave Le Gray, Heinrich Kühn, Heinz Hajek-Halke, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Henry Moore, Ilse Bing, Jaroslav Rössler, Josef Sudek, Paul Strand, Christie's

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