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
Pre Sale Low Total Estimate $1412400
Pre Sale High Total 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
Low Sold 204
Low Bought In 83
Low Buy In % 28.92%
Total Low Estimate $1233100
Total Low Sold $863095
Mid Total Lots 35
Mid Sold 24
Mid Bought In 11
Mid Buy In % 31.43%
Total Mid Estimate $767000
Total Mid Sold $490700
Total High Lots 1
High Sold 0
High Bought In 1
High Buy In % 100.00%
Total High Estimate $90000
Total High Sold $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.

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

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