Auction Results: Post-War to Present, March 9, 2021 @Christie’s

One of the intriguing byproducts of the auction market evolving towards a mix of live and online sales (and the resulting overall increase in the number of sales being held) is that there is less photography being included in any one of the contemporary art sales. What once used to be 20, 30, even 40 available photo lots in such a sale has now dwindled to just a handful of offerings, often in the lower price tiers. We have generally used a threshold of roughly $250K of total photographic value as a lower bound for tallying up useful results, and many more sales than ever before are failing to reach that boundary.

Christie’s recent Post-War to Present sale only had 8 photography lots included, but at least several of the works on offer had somewhat higher estimates. The only real news from the sale was the outcome of the top photography lot, a Cindy Sherman film still, which more than doubled its high estimate, coming in at $275K. Led by that lot, the rest of the details were less notable, with the Total Sale Proceeds for photography (of roughly $400K) coming in above the top end of the aggregate pre-sale estimate range.

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

Summary Statistics
Total Lots 8
Aggregate Pre Sale Low Estimate $266000
Aggregate Pre Sale High Estimate $400000
Total Lots Sold 5
Total Lots Bought In 3
Buy In % 37.50%
Total Sale Proceeds $415000

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

Detailed Breakdown
Low Total Lots 0
Total Low Lots Sold NA
Total Low Lots Bought In NA
Low Buy In % NA
Aggregate High Estimate of Low Lots $0
Total Proceeds from Low Lots $0
Mid Total Lots 5
Total Mid Lots Sold 3
Total Mid Lots Bought In 2
Mid Buy In % 40.00%
Aggregate High Estimate of Mid Lots $180000
Total Proceeds from Mid Lots $90000
Total High Lots 3
Total High Lots Sold 2
Total High Lots Bought In 1
High Buy In % 33.33%
Aggregate High Estimate of High Lots $220000
Total Proceeds from High Lots $325000

The top photography lot by High estimate was lot 65, Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #62, 1977/2003, estimated at $70000-100000; it was also the top photography outcome of the sale at $275000 (image above, via Christie’s.)

100.00% of the lots that sold had proceeds in or above the estimate range and there was just 1 positive surprise in the sale (defined as having proceeds of at least double the high estimate):

Lot 65, Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #62, 1977/2003, estimated at $70000-100000, sold at $275000

The complete lot by lot results can be found here.

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