Auction Results: The Curtis Studio, June 30, 2021 @Bonhams

The results from the sale of photographs and ephemera from the studio of Edward Curtis at Bonhams in Los Angeles last week were frothy to say the least. The overall Buy-In rate was less than 5% and a total of 60 lots doubled their high estimates (or higher). When the dust settled, the Total Sale Proceeds (of roughly $1.7M) topped the high end of the aggregate pre-sale estimate range by more than $700K.

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

Summary Statistics
Total Lots 165
Aggregate Pre Sale Low Estimate $703700
Aggregate Pre Sale High Estimate $1056400
Total Lots Sold 158
Total Lots Bought In 7
Buy In % 4.24%
Total Sale Proceeds $1733895

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

Detailed Breakdown
Low Total Lots 149
Total Low Lots Sold 145
Total Low Lots Bought In 4
Low Buy In % 2.68%
Aggregate High Estimate of Low Lots $548400
Total Proceeds from Low Lots $1273126
Mid Total Lots 14
Total Mid Lots Sold 12
Total Mid Lots Bought In 2
Mid Buy In % 14.29%
Aggregate High Estimate of Mid Lots $378000
Total Proceeds from Mid Lots $416707
Total High Lots 2
Total High Lots Sold 1
Total High Lots Bought In 1
High Buy In % 50.00%
Aggregate High Estimate of High Lots $130000
Total Proceeds from High Lots $44062

The top lot by High estimate was lot 147, Edward Curtis, A Curtis Studio album of 149 prints taken for the North American Indian project, 1898-1917, estimated at $50000-70000; it sold at $44062. The top outcome of the sale was lot 3, Edward Curtis, The Vanishing Race, 1904, estimated at $20000-30000, sold at $100312 (image above, via Bonhams),

While 79.11% of the lots that sold had proceeds in or above the estimate range, there were an astonishing 60 positive surprises in the sale (defined as having proceeds of at least double the high estimate). Listed below are the 13 lots that reached 5X their high estimate or more (images above, via Bonhams):

Lot 1, Edward Curtis, Self portrait in field attire, c1899, estimated at $500-700, sold at $6375

Lot 7, Edward Curtis, Prayer to the Great Mystery (Slow Bull, Sioux), c. 1907, estimated at $3000-5000, sold at $44062

Lot 15, Edward Curtis, Zuni governor, c1903, estimated at $2000-3000, sold at $15300

Lot 27, Edward Curtis, Camp on the Little Big Horn, Apsaroke, 1908, estimated at $3000-5000, sold at $27812

Lot 28, Edward Curtis, At the Water’s Edge, Piegan, 1911, estimated at $3000-5000, sold at $27812

Lot 33, Edward Curtis, Black Eagle, Assiniboin, 1908, estimated at $3000-5000, sold at $56562

Lot 43, Edward Curtis, King Island Homes, c. 1928, estimated at $4000-6000, sold at $37812

Lot 47, Edward Curtis, The Scout Apache, 1906, estimated at $7000-9000, sold at $94062

Lot 55, Edward Curtis, Theodore Roosevelt, 1904, estimated at $1000-1500, sold at $14025

Lot 90, Edward Curtis, Selected photogravures from “The North American Indian”, 1904-1920, estimated at $1000-1500, sold at $9562

Lot 146, Handbill for In the Land of the Head Hunters, 1915, estimated at $800-1200, sold at $7650

Lot 151, Curtis Studios art deco carved oak business sign, estimated at $2000-3000, sold at $17812

Lot 160, Charles Russell, Holiday card, 1926, estimated at $400-600, sold at $4080

The complete lot by lot results can be found here.

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