Auction Results: Voyage to Another World: The Victor Martin-Malburet Photograph Collection, November 20, 2020 @Christie’s London (online)

If a photograph taken during the various missions of the American space program, particularly the now-famous moon flights and landings in the 1960s and 1970s, was something you always wanted to own, the sale of the Victor Martin-Malburet Photograph Collection at Christie’s in London (online) last week was your golden opportunity. Coming in at a whopping 700 lots, the sale covered a broad range of imagery, including both documentary and scientific evidence, with plenty of “firsts” and pieces of history on offer. It was these “firsts” – the first human-taken photograph of Earth, the first photograph of man in space, the first self-portrait in space, the first photograph of a man standing on the surface of another world, and the like – that provided the sparks of intense competition, while many of the seconds, thirds, fourths and beyond (i.e. the additional and supporting pictures) were available at much more reasonable prices. With so much imagery to be absorbed, it’s not surprising that overall prices got depressed a bit, with more than 52% of the lots that sold finding buyers below their estimate ranges, but there were also plenty of positive surprises that jumped far higher than expected to help balance the market clearing. When the results were tallied up, the Total Sale Proceeds came in just below the low end of the aggregate pre-sale estimate range.

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

Summary Statistics
Total Lots 700
Aggregate Pre Sale Low Estimate £1587700
Aggregate Pre Sale High Estimate £2426300
Total Lots Sold 532
Total Lots Bought In 168
Buy In % 24.00%
Total Sale Proceeds £1564875

Here is the breakdown (using our usual Low, Mid, and High price tier definitions):

Detailed Breakdown
Low Total Lots 619
Total Low Lots Sold 492
Total Low Lots Bought In 127
Low Buy In % 20.52%
Aggregate High Estimate of Low Lots £1699300
Total Proceeds from Low Lots £1085750
Mid Total Lots 78
Total Mid Lots Sold 37
Total Mid Lots Bought In 41
Mid Buy In % 52.56%
Aggregate High Estimate of Mid Lots £617000
Total Proceeds from Mid Lots £389125
Total High Lots 3
Total High Lots Sold 3
Total High Lots Bought In 0
High Buy In % 0.00%
Aggregate High Estimate of High Lots £110000
Total Proceeds from High Lots £90000

The top lot by High estimate was lot 345, Buzz Aldrin, The only photograph of Neil Armstrong on the Moon, Apollo 11, July 16-24, 1969, 110:31:43 GET, estimated at £30000-50000; it sold at £52500 (image above via Christie’s.) The top outcome of the sale was lot 388, Neil Armstrong, Portrait of Buzz Aldrin with the photographer and the Lunar Module reflected in his gold-plated visor, Apollo 11, July 16-24, 1969, 110:42:39 GET, 1969, estimated at £6000-8000, sold at £56250 (image above, via Christie’s).

Just 47.56% of the photo lots that sold had proceeds in or above the estimate range and there were a total of 40 positive surprises in the sale (defined as having proceeds of at least double the high estimate.) The lots with positive surprise outcomes above £10000 were the following (images above, via Christie’s):

Lot 36, John Glenn, First human-taken photograph from space; Earth horizon over Florida and Cape Canaveral, Mercury Atlas 6, February 20, 1962, orbit 3, 003:11:37 GET, 1962, estimated at £3000-5000, sold at £15000

Lot 37, John Glenn, First human-taken photograph from space; orbital sunset, Mercury Atlas 6, February 20, 1962, orbit 3, 003:39:41 GET, 1962, estimated at £3000-5000, sold at £25000

Lot 71, James McDivitt, The historic first photograph of man in space: Ed White spacewalking over Hawaii during the first American EVA, Gemini IV, June 3-7, 1965, orbit 3, 004:32:52 GET, 1965, estimated at £1200-1800, sold at £25000

Lot 84, James McDivitt, Ed White in weightlessness in the pilot’s seat of the capsule, the first in-flight portrait of an astronaut, Gemini IV, June 3-7, 1965, 1965, estimated at £1500-2500, sold at £10625

Lot 153, Buzz Aldrin, First self-portrait in space, Gemini XII, November 11-15, 1966, orbit 14, 021:01:06 GET, 1966, estimated at £6000-8000, sold at £43750

Lot 180, Taken by an automatic Maurer 70mm camera aboard the unmanned Apollo 4 spacecraft, First color photograph of the Earth taken beyond Earth’s low orbit, Apollo 4, November 9, 1967, 005:04:00 GET, 1967, estimated at £2000-3000, sold at £15000

Lot 210, William Anders, First human-taken photograph of the Planet Earth, Apollo 8, December 21-27, 1968, 004:36:00 GET, 1968, estimated at £3000-5000, sold at £15000

Lot 218, William Anders, The first human-taken color photograph of Earthrise, Apollo 8, December 21-27, 1968, orbit 4, 075:48:39 GET, 1968, estimated at £6000-8000, sold at £21250

Lot 334, Neil Armstrong, First photograph of a man standing on the surface of another world, Apollo 11, July 16-24, 1969, 110:03:00 GET, 1969, estimated at £2000-3000, sold at £11250

Lot 341, Buzz Aldrin, The astronaut’s footprint on the Moon, Apollo 11, July 16-24, 1969, 110:26:20 GET, 1969, estimated at £4000-6000, sold at £17500

Lot 349, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin’s gold-plated visor reflects the photographer and the LM Eagle, Apollo 11, July 16-24, 1969, 110:42:39 GET, 1969, estimated at £4000-6000, sold at £21250

Lot 381, Ralph Morse, Apollo 11 lifts off on its historic flight to the Moon, Apollo 11, July 16, 1969, 000:00:01 GET, 1969, estimated at £2000-3000, sold at £10625

Lot 388, Neil Armstrong, Portrait of Buzz Aldrin with the photographer and the Lunar Module reflected in his gold-plated visor, Apollo 11, July 16-24, 1969, 110:42:39 GET, 1969, estimated at £6000-8000, sold at £56250

Lot 394, Michael Collins, LM Eagle and Earthrise, Apollo 11, July 16-24, 1969, orbit 27, 127:52:05 GET, 1969, estimated at £6000-8000, sold at £27500

Lot 558, Alfred Worden, Crescent Earth rising beyond the Moon’s barren horizon, Apollo 15, July 26 – August 7, 1971, orbit 70, 1971, estimated at £2000-3000, sold at £50000

Lot 629, Harrison Schmitt or Ron Evans, The “Blue Marble”, first photograph of the full Earth seen by human eyes, Apollo 17, December 7-19, 1972, 005:06:24 GET, 1972, estimated at £4000-6000, sold at £15000

Lot 684, Ronald Evans, Crescent Earthrise, Apollo 17, December 7-19, 1972, orbit 66, 217:20:23 GET, 1972, estimated at £3000-5000, sold at £10000

Lot 699, Taken by a camera on board the robotic Viking 1 spacecraft, The first photograph and the first color photograph taken on the surface of Mars, the Red Planet, Viking 1, 21 July 1976, 1976, estimated at £3000-5000, sold at £15000

Lot 700, Taken by a camera on board the robotic Voyager 1 spacecraft, The first color photograph of Earth and Moon taken by the first interstellar spacecraft, Voyager 1, September 18, 1977, 1977, estimated at £3000-5000, sold at £15000

Complete lot by lot results can be found here.

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