Auction Results: Photographs and Photographic Editions, October 6, 2009 @Bloomsbury

Regular readers here will hopefully realize that we do our best to provide honest critical thinking as applied to the world of fine art photography, but we generally refrain from overly harsh slicing and dicing; it’s hard enough being an artist without having slings and arrows being thrown from collectors as well. When we come across an exhibit or show that doesn’t interest us or meet our standards, we simply omit it from the editorial calendar. Auctions are, on the other hand, a slightly more objective experience; they are the unadorned matching of buyers and sellers, finding equilibrium prices via the invisible hand of the market. As such, we tend to report even the less than positive outcomes that occur from time to time at auction, as these seem to us to be mostly a retelling of the facts, rather than any imparting of opinion or critique.

With that preamble, it gives me no pleasure to report the results from Bloomsbury’s sale last week. As I gathered up the statistics for this post, I can say that this outcome is the single most dispiriting set of auction results that I can remember in a decade of collecting photography; what it must have been like to be in the room as the lots went by makes me shudder in sympathy, especially for the set of Weegees that went 5 for 50. This sale had two parts (photography and photographic literature) and we’ll discuss each in turn below; continue to read, if you dare.

The summary statistics for the photography lots are as follows (all results include the buyer’s premium):

Total Lots: 197
Pre Sale Low Total Estimate: $660000
Pre Sale High Total Estimate: $1000000
Total Lots Sold: 35
Total Lots Bought In: 162
Buy In %: 82.23%
Total Sale Proceeds: $154994

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

Low Total Lots: 192
Low Sold: 33
Low Bought In: 159
Buy In %: 82.81%
Total Low Estimate: $911000
Total Low Sold: $124494

Mid Total Lots: 5
Mid Sold: 2
Mid Bought In: 3
Buy In %: 60.00%
Total Mid Estimate: $89000
Total Mid Sold: $30500

High Total Lots: 0
High Sold: 0
High Bought In: 0
Buy In %: NA
Total High Estimate: $0
Total High Sold: NA

Of the lots that did sell, 37.14% sold below the low estimate. There were no surprises in the photo portion of the sale (defined as having proceeds of at least double the high estimate).

The top photo lot by High estimate was lot 19 Richard Avedon, Cyd Charisse, Evening Dress by Macrini, 1961/1981, at $20000-30000; it was the top outcome in the sale at $21960.

The photographic literature performed better in comparison, but the total proceeds were still quite low. The summary statistics for the books are below (all results include the buyer’s premium):

Total Lots: 95
Pre Sale Low Total Estimate: $124800
Pre Sale High Total Estimate: $185800
Total Lots Sold: 60
Total Lots Bought In: 35
Buy In %: 36.84%
Total Sale Proceeds: $76770

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

Low Total Lots: 94
Low Sold: 60
Low Bought In: 34
Buy In %: 36.17%
Total Low Estimate: $170800
Total Low Sold: $76770

Mid Total Lots: 1
Mid Sold: 0
Mid Bought In: 1
Buy In %: 100.00%
Total Mid Estimate: $15000
Total Mid Sold: $0

High Total Lots: 0
High Sold: 0
High Bought In: 0
Buy In %: NA
Total High Estimate: $0
Total High Sold: NA

Of the lots that did sell, 41.67% sold below the low estimate. Again, there were no surprises (defined as having proceeds of at least double the high estimate) in this portion of the sale.

The top book lot by High estimate was lot 219 Alexander Rodchenko and Volya Lyakhov, Poet Vladamir Mayakovsky, 1924; Soviet Advertising Posters 1917-1932, at $10000-15000; it did not sell. The top outcome in the book portion of the sale was lot 229 William Klein, Life Is Good & Good For You In New York, 1956, at $7930.

Complete lot by lot results can be found here. The silver lining for collectors in all of this is that perhaps there are some after sale bargains available.

Bloomsbury Auctions
6 West 48th Street
New York, NY 10036

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One comment

  1. isleofmanmansions /

    How do you do work that would get auctioned?

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