Auction Results: Photographs: Art & Visual Culture, February 21, 2019 @Swann

The 2019 photography auction calendar swung back into gear earlier this week with the first major photographs sale of the year at Swann. With a broad mix of fine photographs and vernacular material on offer, the sale was largely uneventful, with many high priced lots failing to find buyers and the Total Sale Proceeds ultimately coming in just under the low end of the aggregate pre-sale range. The top outcome was a selection of prints by Malick Sidibé, but just there weren’t enough positive surprises to make up for an overall Buy-In rate near 30%.

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

Summary Statistics
Total Lots 323
Aggregate Pre Sale Low Estimate $1412400
Aggregate Pre Sale High Estimate $2090100
Total Lots Sold 228
Total Lots Bought In 95
Buy In % 29.41%
Total Sale Proceeds $1353795

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

Detailed Breakdown
Low Total Lots 287
Total Low Lots Sold 204
Total Low Lots Bought In 83
Low Buy In % 28.92%
Aggregate High Estimate of Low Lots $1233100
Total Proceeds from Low Lots $863095
Mid Total Lots 35
Total Mid Lots Sold 24
Total Mid Lots Bought In 11
Mid Buy In % 31.43%
Aggregate High Estimate of Mid Lots $767000
Total Proceeds from Mid Lots $490700
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 $90000
Total Proceeds from High Lots $0

The top lot by High estimate was lot 26, Edward S. Curtis, Horse Capture, Atsina, 1908, estimated at $60000-90000; it did not sell. The top outcome of the sale was lot 229, Malick Sidibé, Installation of 38 photographs, 1964-2001, estimated at $30000-45000, sold at $87500 (image above, via Swann).

77.19% of the lots that sold had proceeds in or above the estimate range and there were a total of 13 positive surprises in the sale (defined as having proceeds of at least double the high estimate). Nine of these lots came in the vernacular imagery section (lot 255 Spirit Photographs, lot 258 India & Ceylon, lot 259 India, lot 266 Azerbaijan – Baku Oil Fields, lot 267 China & Okinawa, lot 275 Timken Roller Bearings, lot 277 Industrial – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, lot 319 Women’s Hair Styles, and lot 323 Erotica in a Bread Box). The positive surprises in fine photographs were as follows (images above via Swann):

Lot 51, (1913 Armory Show), 33 printed postcards, 1913, estimated at $4000-6000, sold at $12500

Lot 101, Weegee, Empire State Distortion, c1960, estimated at $1400-1800, sold at $3750

Lot 189, George Platt Lynes, Ralph McWilliams, early 1950s, estimated at $2000-3000, sold at $7250

Lot 207, Carolee Schneemann, Meat Joy book maquette, 1964, estimated at $1000-1500, sold at $5250

The complete lot by lot results can be found here.

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Read more about: Carolee Schneemann, George Platt Lynes, Malick Sidibé, Weegee (Arthur Felig), Swann Auction Galleries

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