Auction Results: On the Road: Photographs by Robert Frank from the Collection of Arthur S. Penn, February 22, 2023 @Sotheby’s

The single collector sale of prints by Robert Frank at Sotheby’s last week delivered surprisingly soft results. Not only did the top lot fail to find a buyer, the overall Buy-In rate came in above 50%, with particular weakness in the middle price tier. To make matters worse, there were no positive surprises to balance all those passes, leading to Total Sale Proceeds (of roughly $990K) that fell 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 109
Aggregate Pre Sale Low Estimate $1788000
Aggregate Pre Sale High Estimate $2760000
Total Lots Sold 53
Total Lots Bought In 56
Buy In % 51.38%
Total Sale Proceeds $991235

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

Detailed Breakdown
Low Total Lots 19
Total Low Lots Sold 12
Total Low Lots Bought In 7
Low Buy In % 36.84%
Aggregate High Estimate of Low Lots $164000
Total Proceeds from Low Lots $97155
Mid Total Lots 84
Total Mid Lots Sold 36
Total Mid Lots Bought In 48
Mid Buy In % 54.76%
Aggregate High Estimate of Mid Lots $2086000
Total Proceeds from Mid Lots $713740
Total High Lots 6
Total High Lots Sold 3
Total High Lots Bought In 3
High Buy In % 50.00%
Aggregate High Estimate of High Lots $510000
Total Proceeds from High Lots $180340

The top lot by High estimate was lot 51, Robert Frank, ‘Hoboken N. J.’ (Parade), 1955/no later than 1978, estimated at $120000-180000; it did not sell. The top outcome of the sale was tied between two lots, both selling at $63500: lot 20, Robert Frank, ‘From the Bus NYC’ (Woman and Man on the Sidewalk), 1958/probably printed in the late 1950s or 1960s, estimated at $60000-90000, and lot 47, Robert Frank, Chicago (Car), 1956/probably printed in the late 1950s or 1960s, estimated at $40000-60000 (images above via Sotheby’s).

98.11% of the lots that sold had proceeds in or above the estimate range and there were no positive surprises in the sale (defined as having proceeds of at least double the high estimate).

The complete lot by lot results can be found here.

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