Auction Results: Photography in the London Contemporary Art Sales, Spring 2009

The last of today’s auction results posts cover the photography buried in the various Contemporary Art sales in London over the past few weeks (the original preview post is here). The three houses had decidedly different results, as follows. The results are below (all results include the buyer’s premium):

Sotheby’s

Whether it was the selection of the lots, the wooing of the right collectors, or the setting of realistic estimates, Sotheby’s found the formula for selling contemporary photography in its pair of London sales. Only one photography lot was bought in out of 29 up for sale, and the total sale proceeds of photography for the two sales combined exceeded their total high estimates. Well done.

Evening Sale

Total Lots: 5
Pre Sale Low Total Estimate: £890000
Pre Sale High Total Estimate: £1270000

Total Lots Sold: 5
Total Lots Bought In: 0
Buy In %: 00.00%
Total Sale Proceeds: £1218250

80.00% of the lots that sold had proceeds in or above the estimate range. One surprise (defined as having proceeds of at least double the high estimate) was Rashid Rana’s Veil IV at £313250. Complete lot by lot results can be found here.

Day Sale

Total Lots: 24
Pre Sale Low Total Estimate: £471000
Pre Sale High Total Estimate: £663000

Total Lots Sold: 23
Total Lots Bought In: 1
Buy In %: 4.17%
Total Sale Proceeds: £732825

A staggering 95.84% of the lots that sold had proceeds in or above the estimate range. Surprises (defined as having proceeds of at least double the high estimate) included Vik MunizBlack Marilyn at £46850, Tracey Emin’s Good Smile Great Come at £16250, Candida Höfer’s Trinity College Library, Dublin II at £32450 and Robert Mapplethorpe’s Self Portrait at £33650. Complete lot by lot results can be found here.

Christie’s

Christie’s didn’t have much photography included in its two sales, and the results for these lots were mixed. As a result, Christie’s had the lowest total proceeds from photography of the three houses in this round of sales, by a meaningful margin.

Evening Sale

Total Lots: 2
Pre Sale Low Total Estimate: £420000
Pre Sale High Total Estimate: £500000

Total Lots Sold: 1
Total Lots Bought In: 1
Buy In %: 50.00%
Total Sale Proceeds: £271250

The one lot that sold (Gursky) sold above the estimate range. There were no surprises in this sale. Complete lot by lot results can be found here.

Day Sale

Total Lots: 8
Pre Sale Low Total Estimate: £104000
Pre Sale High Total Estimate: £144000

Total Lots Sold: 6
Total Lots Bought In: 2
Buy In %: 25.00%
Total Sale Proceeds: £123750

83.33% of the lots that sold had proceeds above the estimate range, but the two highest value lots didn’t sell, which explains the lower total proceeds. There was only one surprise (defined as having proceeds of at least double the high estimate): Vanessa Beecroft’s VB 35 at £16250. Complete lot by lot results can be found here.

Phillips

Phillips had the most photographs on offer and took a few more risks in its selections in these sales. The results were very uneven, with proceeds from both sales falling under the low estimates.

Evening Sale

Total Lots: 9
Pre Sale Low Total Estimate: £710000
Pre Sale High Total Estimate: £1050000

Total Lots Sold: 4
Total Lots Bought In: 5
Buy In %: 55.56%
Total Sale Proceeds: £587000

75.00% of the lots that sold had proceeds above the estimate range, but less than half of the lots on offer sold. There were no surprises in this sale. Complete lot by lot results can be found here.

Day Sale

Total Lots: 31
Pre Sale Low Total Estimate: £296000
Pre Sale High Total Estimate: £411000

Total Lots Sold: 22
Total Lots Bought In: 9
Buy In %: 29.03%
Total Sale Proceeds: £212525

68.18% of the lots that sold had proceeds in or above the estimate range, but the combination of buy-ins and sales below the low estimate led to the lower total proceeds. Again, there were no surprises in this sale. Complete lot by lot results can be found here.

So what conclusions can we draw from all this data? First, photography generally performed quite well in these sales. Second, Sotheby’s seems to have discovered the formula for the successful recession era sale (the details of the recipe are of course secret). The others would be well advised to steal from their playbook for the next round of sales.

Christie's, Phillips, Sotheby's

One comment

  1. verninino /

    I really don’t have anything to say, just wanted to thank you for doing what y’all are doing and for doing it so consistently well.

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