Auction Results: The Surrealist World of Rosalind Gersten Jacobs and Melvin Jacobs, May 14, 2022 @Christie’s

After holding the record for the most expensive photograph sold at auction for more than a decade, Andreas Gursky’s Rhein II (which sold for roughly $4.3M in 2011) finally gave away to a new titleholder at the recent sale of Surrealist art from the Jacobs collection at Christie’s in New York.

A rare vintage print of Man Ray’s iconic Le Violon d’Ingres (which Jacobs bought directly from Man Ray in 1962) soared to $12412500, meaningfully above its presale estimate range of $5000000-7000000. The sale also reset the auction record for a Man Ray print, which was previously held by a vintage print of Noire et Blanche (which sold for roughly $3.2 million in 2017). The significant price jump, and more importantly, the creation of a new psychological anchor point for photography above the $10M mark, will surely kick off another round of discussions about whether the medium is undervalued, and if so, which areas are in and out of favor at any one moment.

If we strip this one exciting outcome out of the data for the sale, the rest of the photographic offerings performed generally without incident, aside from one withdrawal and a few positive surprises. When we add the outcome back into the numbers, the Total Sale Proceeds for photography (of roughly $13.8M) came in well 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 25
Aggregate Pre Sale Low Estimate $6418000
Aggregate Pre Sale High Estimate $9153000
Total Lots Sold 22
Total Lots Bought In 3
Buy In % 12.00%
Total Sale Proceeds $13809894

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

Detailed Breakdown
Low Total Lots 6
Total Low Lots Sold 6
Total Low Lots Bought In 0
Low Buy In % 0.00%
Aggregate High Estimate of Low Lots $31000
Total Proceeds from Low Lots $64764
Mid Total Lots 7
Total Mid Lots Sold 7
Total Mid Lots Bought In 0
Mid Buy In % 0.00%
Aggregate High Estimate of Mid Lots $242000
Total Proceeds from Mid Lots $216270
Total High Lots 12
Total High Lots Sold 9
Total High Lots Bought In 3
High Buy In % 25.00%
Aggregate High Estimate of High Lots $8880000
Total Proceeds from High Lots $13528860

The top photography lot by High estimate was lot 615, Man Ray, Le Violon d’Ingres, 1924, estimated at $5000000-7000000; it was also the top photography outcome of the sale at $12412500 (image above, via Christie’s.)

81.82% 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 Christie’s):

Lot 602, Man Ray, La Prière, 1930/1960s, estimated at $80000-120000, sold at $289800

Lot 616, Man Ray, Portrait of Rosalind Gersten Jacobs, 1957, estimated at $2000-3000, sold at $6300

Lot 645, Alfred Eisenstaedt, René Breguet Serves Cocktails at the Grand Hotel Ice Rink, St. Moritz, 1932/1979, estimated at $4000-6000, sold at $27720

Lot 658, René Magritte, La fidélité des images #12: Dieu, Le huitième jour, 1937/1976, estimated at $3000-5000, sold at $10322

The complete lot by lot results can be found here.

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