Auction Results: Photographs, October 15, 2009 @Phillips London

While the photography sales at Christie’s and Sotheby’s seemed to achieve some stable equilibrium, the results from the Phillips sale in London popped that short-lived balloon. With a Buy-In rate near 50% and Total Sale Proceeds that missed the Low by £200000, it’s clear that we still have some choppy water to cross before we return to smooth sailing.

Once again, the top end was pretty soft; that’s three for three in the various owner sales this Fall. My conclusion from the data is that either 1.) caution is still the rule of the day and prices may still need to compress a bit further in the high end ranges to entice buyers back to the table or 2.) the quality of the material will need to meaningfully increase to match the prices, or both.

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

Total Lots: 180
Pre Sale Low Total Estimate: £897100
Pre Sale High Total Estimate: £1283600
Total Lots Sold: 93
Total Lots Bought In: 87
Buy In %: 48.33%
Total Sale Proceeds: £694626

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

Low Total Lots: 87
Low Sold: 50
Low Bought In: 37
Buy In %: 42.53%
Total Low Estimate: £268600
Total Low Sold: £156001

Mid Total Lots: 86
Mid Sold: 40
Mid Bought In: 46
Buy In %: 53.49%
Total Mid Estimate: £715000
Total Mid Sold: £402375

High Total Lots: 7
High Sold: 3
High Bought In: 4
Buy In %: 57.14%
Total High Estimate: £300000
Total High Sold: £136250

91.40% of the lots that sold had proceeds in or above their estimate. There were a total of five surprises in this sale (defined as having proceeds of at least double the high estimate):

Lot 78 Miroslav Tichy, Untitled, 1950-1980, at £5000
Lot 88 Edward Burtynsky, Oxford Tire Pile #1, Westley, California, 1999, at £30000
Lot 95 Rene Burri, Ernesto Che Guevara, Havana, Cuba, 1963, at £5000
Lot 96 Andre Villers, Picasso drawing, 1960, at £5250
Lot 109 Rene Burri, Wilted Lotus Blossoms, former Summer Palace, Kunming Lake, Beijing, China, 1964, at £5000

The top lot by High estimate was lot 131, Irving Penn, Girl behind glass (Jean Pacthett), New York, 1949, at £50000-70000; it did not sell. The top outcome of the sale was a tie between lot 60, Peter Beard, Portraits London (F. Bacon)/Paris/Nairobi, Collected at Hog Ranch 1966-70, 1990, and lot 97, Richard Misrach, Untitled, 2003, both at £52500.

Complete lot by lot results can be found here.

Phillips De Pury & Company
Howick Place
London SW1P 1BB

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