Auction Results: Moon Shots: Space Photography 1950-1999 (online), May 18, 2022 @Christie’s London

The results of the recent space photography sale at Christie’s in London were decidedly underwhelming, with plenty of relative bargains available for those who were paying attention. With most of the lots being sold with little or no reserve, the vast majority of lots that did find buyers did so for under £500. With a Buy-In rate above 25% and just a few positive surprises to balance out the numbers, the Total Sale Proceeds came in well 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 283
Aggregate Pre Sale Low Estimate £490800
Aggregate Pre Sale High Estimate £749000
Total Lots Sold 212
Total Lots Bought In 71
Buy In % 25.09%
Total Sale Proceeds £192492

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

Detailed Breakdown
Low Total Lots 266
Total Low Lots Sold 205
Total Low Lots Bought In 61
Low Buy In % 22.93%
Aggregate High Estimate of Low Lots £553000
Total Proceeds from Low Lots £125244
Mid Total Lots 16
Total Mid Lots Sold 7
Total Mid Lots Bought In 9
Mid Buy In % 56.25%
Aggregate High Estimate of Mid Lots £166000
Total Proceeds from Mid Lots £67158
Total High Lots 1
Total High Lots Sold 0
Total High Lots Bought In 1
High Buy In % 100.00%
Aggregate High Estimate of High Lots £30000
Total Proceeds from High Lots £0

The top lot by High estimate was lot 132, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin posing for a photograph beside the U.S. flag, Apollo 11, July 16-24, 1969, 110:10:33 GET, estimated at £20000-30000; it did not sell. The top outcome of the sale was lot 207, Harrison Schmitt, The “Blue Marble”, the first human-taken photograph of the Earth fully illuminated, Apollo 17, December 7-19, 1972, 005:06:24 GET, estimated at £7000-10000, sold at £21420 (image above, via Christie’s).

Just 8.02% of the photo lots that sold had proceeds in or above the estimate range and there were a total of 4 positive surprises in the sale (defined as having proceeds of at least double the high estimate) (images above, via Christie’s):

Lot 79, William Anders, First human-taken photograph of the planet Earth, Apollo 8, December 21-27, 1968, 004:36:00 GET, estimated at £1800-2500, sold at £10080

Lot 207, Harrison Schmitt, The “Blue Marble”, the first human-taken photograph of the Earth fully illuminated, Apollo 17, December 7-19, 1972, 005:06:24 GET, estimated at £7000-10000, sold at £21420

Lot 251, NASA (Camera on Voyager 1), Jupiter with Moons Ganymede and Europa, January 17, 1979, estimated at £2000-3000, sold at £15120

Lot 251, NASA (Camera on Voyager 2), Saturn and its ring system, August 11, 1981, estimated at £1000-1500, sold at £6048

Complete lot by lot results can be found here.

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