Auction Results: Photographs (online), May 12, 2020 @Bonhams

The Photographs sale at Bonhams in New York earlier this week (which took place online) provided another data point on the health of the recovering secondary market for photography. In this case, the results offered a few new insights. First, when the reserves are kept firm, the weakness in the market manifests itself in a lot of passed lots, especially for lesser material. Here, that tallied up to an overall Buy-In rate of over 55%. And second, higher priced lots, again particularly those works that are less significant, continue to suffer from softness. Here, the top tier lots both passed, and mid tier bought in more than 80% of the time. While there were a few notable positive surprises in this sale, which proves that collectors are still watching closely, the Total Sale Proceeds came in at roughly $500K, far below the aggregate pre-sale range.

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

Summary Statistics
Total Lots 165
Aggregate Pre Sale Low Estimate $1053200
Aggregate Pre Sale High Estimate $1534000
Total Lots Sold 73
Total Lots Bought In 92
Buy In % 55.76%
Total Sale Proceeds $494287

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

Detailed Breakdown
Low Total Lots 127
Total Low Lots Sold 67
Total Low Lots Bought In 60
Low Buy In % 47.24%
Aggregate High Estimate of Low Lots $635000
Total Proceeds from Low Lots $367587
Mid Total Lots 36
Total Mid Lots Sold 6
Total Mid Lots Bought In 30
Mid Buy In % 83.33%
Aggregate High Estimate of Mid Lots $779000
Total Proceeds from Mid Lots $126700
Total High Lots 2
Total High Lots Sold 0
Total High Lots Bought In 2
High Buy In % 100.00%
Aggregate High Estimate of High Lots $120000
Total Proceeds from High Lots $0

The top lot by High estimate was tied between two lots: lot 3, Peter Beard, Cows and Calves at Buffalo Springs, Kenya NFD, for “The End of the Game/ Last Word from Paradise”, 1960, and lot 120, Bruce Davidson, Selected images from “East 100th Street”, 1966-1968, both estimated at $40000-60000; neither sold. The top outcome of the sale was lot 37, Werner Rohde, Self-Portrait with Mask, 1926, estimated at $15000-25000, sold at $37575 (image above, via Bonhams).

934.52% of the lots that sold had proceeds in or above the estimate range and there were a total of 4 positive surprises in the sale (defined as having proceeds of at least double the high estimate) (images above via Bonhams):

Lot 59, Wolfgang Tillmans, Anemone II, 2003/2004, estimated at $2000-3000, sold at $8825

Lot 79, William Eggleston, Biloxi, Mississippi, 1975, estimated at $7000-9000, sold at $31325

Lot 131, György Kepes, Untitled, n.d, estimated at $2500-3500, sold at $23825

Lot 138, Wolfgang Tillmans, New Family, 2001/2002, estimated at $2000-3000, sold at $10075

The complete lot by lot results can be found here.

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Read more about: György Kepes, Werner Rohde, William Eggleston, Wolfgang Tillmans, Bonhams

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