Auction Results: Photographs by Ruth Orkin, A Centennial Celebration, February 2, 2021 @Bonhams

The new 2021 auction season for photography began last week, with a single artist sale at Bonhams featuring the work of Ruth Orkin. Organized to celebrate the centennial of her birth, the offerings were mostly later prints, including an oversized print of her now iconic American Girl in Florence, Italy. That print took the top lot honors, and with a few positive surprises, the sale overcame a decently high Buy-In rate (of nearly 39%) to tally up Total Sale Proceeds (of roughly $175K) that fell at the low end of aggregate pre-sale estimate range.

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

Summary Statistics
Total Lots 54
Aggregate Pre Sale Low Estimate $172700
Aggregate Pre Sale High Estimate $251100
Total Lots Sold 33
Total Lots Bought In 21
Buy In % 38.89%
Total Sale Proceeds $176353

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

Detailed Breakdown
Low Total Lots 51
Total Low Lots Sold 32
Total Low Lots Bought In 19
Low Buy In % 37.25%
Aggregate High Estimate of Low Lots $181100
Total Proceeds from Low Lots $123541
Mid Total Lots 3
Total Mid Lots Sold 1
Total Mid Lots Bought In 2
Mid Buy In % 66.67%
Aggregate High Estimate of Mid Lots $70000
Total Proceeds from Mid Lots $52812
Total High Lots 0
Total High Lots Sold NA
Total High Lots Bought In NA
High Buy In % NA
Aggregate High Estimate of High Lots $0
Total Proceeds from High Lots $0

The top lot by High estimate was lot 49, Ruth Orkin, American Girl in Florence, Italy, 1951/later, estimated at $20000-30000. It was also the top outcome of the sale at $52812 (image above, via Bonhams.)

81.82% of the lots that sold had proceeds in or above the estimate range and there were 3 positive surprises in the sale (defined as having proceeds of at least double the high estimate) (images above, via Bonhams):

Lot 26, Ruth Orkin, Albert Einstein, Princeton Luncheon, New Jersey, 1953/later, estimated at $3000-5000, sold at $11475

Lot 42, Ruth Orkin, Man in Rain, West 88th Street, New York City, 1952/later, estimated at $1500-2000, sold at $8287

Lot 54, Ruth Orkin, Ruth Orkin’s Nikon F camera (1955) and camera bag, 1955, estimated at 500-700, sold at $1402

The complete lot by lot results can be found here.

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