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Sotheby's: Photographs Auction Analysis

  • Sotheby's London
  • Sotheby's London
May 25, 2015

A not-so-good auction of photographs has been held at Sotheby’s London. Photographs auction sold just over half of auctioned lots and instead of projected $3,094,718 – $4,440,699, it gathered a bit over $2 million. This auction had a strong emphasis on fashion and glamour, with – obviously – a lot of works by Helmut Newton, as well as photographs by Irving Penn, Horst P. Horst, Peter Beard, Nick Brandt and Henri Cartier-Bresson. However, the lot that had the biggest hammer price was Untitled (FGM78) by László Moholy-Nagy, from 1923-25.

The Story About a Photo: Man Ray’s Lee Miller (circa 1930)

Lee Miller established her name as a fashion model in America, and then, in the late 1920’s, she arrived in Paris, in order to become a photographer. Doing so, she became Man Ray’s apprentice, but also his muse, companion and artistic collaborator. They were together for three years (1929 – 1932), and she inspired some of the Ray’s most famous photographs and paintings. Later, she established herself as a successful photographer, opening her own photo-studio.

Featured image: Helmut Newton – Woman Into Man, Paris, 1979 (Lot 7). Estimated at $10,842 – $15,489, sold for $49,565 (detail).

Also in slider: Nobuyoshi Araki – Yakusa, 1994 (Lot 13). Estimated at $12,391 – $18,587, sold for $54,212 (detail).

  • Sotheby's London

The Overview of Sotheby's: Photographs

Out of total 138 photographs that had been put on sale at Sotheby’s London on Saturday, May 23, just 77 lots were sold, or mere 55.8 percent. These 77 lots gathered total of $2.07 million, with mentioned László Moholy-Nagy’s photo that had the highest hammer price at $154,890. The average hammer price was $14,976, and equal number of lots (31, or 40.3 percent) were sold in range of estimated values and under low estimate.

After Moholy-Nagy’s work, Peter Beard’s Loliondo Lion Charge from 1964 had the highest hammer price ($139,401), followed by Irving Penn’s Chanel Feather Headdress (b), New York from 1994 ($85,190) and Man Ray’s Lee Miller, ($77,445). Three lots with biggest difference between their respective hammer prices and high estimates were Helmut Newton’s Woman Into Man, Paris from 1979, Nobuyoshi Araki’s Yakusa from 1994 and mentioned Irving Penn’s work.

Since two days before Photographs auction at Sotheby’s was held Photographs auction – much more successful – at Phillips London as well, it was interesting to see how did the same lots go at two different auctions. We’ve found two photos that were sold at both auctions. Nobuyoshi Araki’s Komari from L’amant d’août from 2002 achieved higher hammer price at Phillips ($10,159), than it did at Sotheby’s ($7,745), but at Sotheby’s had high and low estimated values for $1,650 lower than at Phillips. Totally different story was with Steve McCurry’s Sharbat Gula, Afghan Girl, Pakistan from 1984 – it had waaay higher estimated value at Sotheby’s ($18,587 – $27,880) than at Phillips ($7,814 – $10,940), and was sold for more than double: $29,429 at Sotheby’s and $14,066 at Phillips. Same photo, same town, just two days difference.

Sotheby's London
Nobuyoshi Araki – Yakusa, 1994 (Lot 13). Estimated at $12,391 – $18,587, sold for $54,212.
Sotheby's London
Left: Man Ray – Lee Miller, c. 1930 (Lot 55). Estimated at $77,445 – $108,423. Sold for low estimate. / Right: László Moholy-Nagy – Untitled (FGM78), 1923-25. Estimated at $154,890 – $232,335. Sold for $154,890 – this lot had the highest hammer price of the auction.
Sotheby's London
Left: Horst P. Horst – Round The Clock II, New York, 1987 (Lot 16). Estimated at $6,196 – $9,293, sold for $21,685 (+133.3 percent difference). / Right: Erwin Blumenfeld – Shadow Profile, New York, 1944 (Lot 61). Estimated at $27,880 – $35,625, sold for $58,858.
Sotheby's London
Left: Thomas Ruff – Nudes Fe 16, 2000 (Lot 11). Estimated at $61,956 – $92,934, sold for low estimate. / Right: Helmut Newton – Big Nude XIV, Nice, 1993 (Lot 1). Estimated at $27,880 – $35,625, sold for $38,723.
Sotheby's London
Left: Peter Beard – Loliondo Lion Charge, 1964 (Lot 99). Estimated at $123,912 – $185,868, sold for $139,401. This lot had the second highest hammer price. / Right: Helmut Newton – Woman Into Man, Paris, 1979 (Lot 7). Estimated at $10,842 – $15,489, sold for $49,565, with +220 percent difference between hammer price and high estimate – the most successful lot of the auction.
Sotheby's London
Irving Penn – Chanel Feather Headdress (b), New York, 1994 (Lot 17). Estimated at $23,234 – $30,978, sold for $85,190.
  • Sotheby's London

Sotheby's: Photographs in Details

Here you’ll find two tables with detailed information on every single lot that was auctioned at Photographs auction at Sotheby’s London on May 23.

Total number of lots:138
Number of sold lots:77
Sold lots [%]:55.8
Total [$]:2.066.702
Number of sold lots over high estimate:15
Over high estimate (Total) [%]:10.9
Over high estimate (Sold) [%]:19.5
Number of sold lots in range of estimated values:31
In range of estimated values (Sold) [%]:40.3
Number of sold lots under low estimate:31
Under low estimate (Sold) [%]:40.2
Results were under estimate spread of [%]:30.3
Max Hammer [$]:154.890
Average Hammer [$]:14.976
Median Hammer [$]:6196
Median Hammer Average Hammer Difference [%]:-58.6
Lot No.Artist NameArtwork NameLow Estimate $High Estimate $Hammer Price $Hammer High Estimate Difference [%]Hammer Low Estimate Difference [%]
1Helmut Newton'Big Nude Xiv', Nice, 19932788035625387238.738.9
2Helmut Newton'Fashion Calvin Klein, American Vogue', Saint Tropez 1975154892323423234050
3Helmut Newton'Jassara, Rue Aubriot, Paris', 19773097846467Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
4Helmut Newton'Domestic Nude Iii, In The Laundry Room, Chateau Marmont, Hollywood', 1992309784646730978-33.30
5Helmut Newton'Jenny Kapitan, Pension Dorian', Berlin, 19771084215489Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
6Helmut Newton'Saddle I', Paris 19762323430978371742060
7Helmut Newton'Woman Into Man', Paris, 1979108421548949565220357.2
8Helmut Newton'Tour De Plongée, Old Beach Hotel', Monte Carlo 19813872354212Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
9Daido Moriyama'How To Create A Beautiful Picture 6: Tights In Shimotakaïdo', 1987185872478220136-18.78.3
10Daido Moriyama'Kuchibiru Black', 2007154892323415489-33.30
11Thomas Ruff'Nudes Fe 16', 2000619569293461956-33.30
12David Lachapelle'Deluge', 20073872354212Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
13Nobuyoshi Araki'Yakusa', 1994123911858754212191.7337.5
14Patrick Demarchelier'Cindy, Leh, India', 198961969293Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
15Herb Ritts'Draped Woman', Marrakech 1985619692931316641.7112.5
16Horst P. Horst'Round The Clock Ii, New York', 1987 6196929321685133.3250
17Irving Penn'Chanel Feather Headdress (B), New York', 1994232343097885190175266.7
18Horst P. Horst'Helen Bennett (Cape), Fashion', Paris 193661969293Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
19Gavin Bond'Juste Parce Que Je Suis Belle', 2010929312391Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
20Horst P. HorstUntitled ('Betty Mclaughlin As Model With Bauhaus Background For Vogue, New York'), 1940619692935421-41.7-12.5
21Horst P. Horst'Paulette Goddard', New York 194046477745Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
22Horst P. Horst'Mistinguett (Molyneux Dress)', Paris 193346477745Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
23Horst P. Horst'Trompe L'Oeil Fashion' Paris, 193746477745Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
24Horst P. Horst'Muriel Maxwell', New York 194046477745Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
25Irving Penn'Sophia Loren', New York, 19592323430978340761046.7
26Horst P. Horst'Courreges Bathing Suit', Paris, 197861969293Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
27Hannes Kilian'Es Wird Wieder Getanzt!', 1955 'Spanien: In Den Dünen Von Alicante', 1965619692936196-33.30
28Horst P. Horst'Bouvier Sisters, Jackie + Lee', New York 195861969293Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
29Horst P. Horst'Duran Duran', London 1986619692935421-41.7-12.5
30Horst P. Horst'Fashion For British Vogue (Yasmin)', London 1986619692935421-41.7-12.5
31Horst P. Horst'Fashion For Calvin Klein', New York 1983774510842Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
32Peter Lindbergh'Marie Sophie Wilson, Lynne Koester, Tatjana Patitz, Comme Des Garçons, Le Touquet', 19879293123918364-32.5-10
33Peter Lindbergh'Tatjana Patitz, Stern', Deauville, 1990 (Tatjana Naked)619692938519-8.337.5
34Herb Ritts'Carrie In Sand' (Detail), Paradise Cove, 198812391185872478233.3100
35Peter Lindbergh'Estelle Lefebure, Karen Alexander, Rachel Williams, Linda Evangelista, Tatjana Patitz, Christy Turlington, Vogue U.S.A. Santa Monica, California', 1988 232343097827880-1020
36Miles Aldridge'Home Works #3', 20081084215489178121564.3
37Nobuyoshi Araki'Komari From L'Amant D'Août', 2002-20079293123917745-37.5-16.7
38Nobuyoshi ArakiUntitled, C. 1991232343097821685-30-6.7
39Izima Kaoru'Tanja De Jaeger Wears Christian Dior', 20021548923234Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
40Horst P. Horst'Papier Mâché Iris', New York 1968108421548910068-35-7.1
41Izima Kaoru'Hasegawa Kyoko Wears Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche', 20031548923234Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
42Horst P. Horst'Army Leaves', Fort Belvoir, Virginia, 1944464777454027-48-13.3
43Alexander Rodchenko'Museum Series Portfolios' No. 2: Portraits, 1924 - 19373097838723Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
44László Moholy-NagyUntitled (Fgm78), 1923-25154890232335154890-33.30
45August Sander'Young Farmers', 1914 'Kaiser'S Birthday Celebration', 1915 'Farmer On His Way To Church', 1925/26 'Boxers', 19291239118587Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
46László Moholy-NagyUntitled (Fgm80A), 1923 - 1925154890232335Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
47Paul Outerbridge, Jr.'Musical Semi-Abstraction', 19243872354212Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
48Paul Outerbridge, Jr.'Necklace, Fan And Perfume', C. 192546477745Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
49Edward Steichen'Triumph Of The Egg', 192192934123912Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
50Hans Bellmer'La Poupée', 19361548923234Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
52BrassaïHotel De Passe Rue Quincampoix, C. 1932 Lingerie For Diana Slip, C. 19332323430978Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
53Maurice TabardPunu Mask, Solarised Film, 1936464677744546467-400
54Maurice Tabard'Magraitis' 1928 - 30108421394010842-22.20
55Man Ray'Lee Miller', C. 19307744510842377445-28.60
56Arnold Newman'Jean Arp', 19491084215489Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
57André Kertész'Broken Plate', 192961969293Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
58Manuel Alvarez Bravo'El Umbral', 19474646777445Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
59Erwin BlumenfeldSolarised Hat & Profile, New York, 1944232343097824782-206.7
60Erwin BlumenfeldFashion Portrait, New York, C. 19551548923234Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
61Erwin BlumenfeldShadow Profile, New York, 194427880356255885865.2111.1
62Erwin BlumenfeldNude In Broken Mirror, New York, 1944232343097827880-1020
63Erwin BlumenfeldSolarised Double Nude With Ballet Barre, New York, 1948232343097817038-45-26.7
64Erwin BlumenfeldTorso Study, New York, 1945309784646724782-46.7-20
65Nicolas Tikhomiroff'The Trial' By Orson Welles, 19622323430978Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
66William Henry Fox TalbotHigh Street, Oxford, C. 1845929312391Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
67Henry Dixon & Alfred And John Bool'The Society For Photographing Relics Of Old London', 1875 - 18861239118587Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
68Henri Cartier-Bresson'Brussels', 19327745108426970-35.7-10
69Henri Cartier-Bresson'Córdoba', 193361969293Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
70Henri Cartier-Bresson'Calle Cuauhtemoctzin, Mexico City', 19347745108426196-42.9-20
71Henri Cartier-Bresson'Madrid', 193392931239111617-6.225
72Henri Cartier-Bresson'Seville', 193392931239112391033.3
73Irving Penn'Tree Pruner, New York', 1951232343097818587-40-20
74Marc Riboud'Le Peintre De La Tour Eiffel, Paris, France', 1953619692935886-36.7-5
75Irving PennButchers, Paris, 19502323430978433694086.7
76Irving Penn'Gypsy Family (Spain)', 19661858727880Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
77Irving Penn'Dahomey Children', Dahomey, 19672788035625Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
78Harry Callahan'Ivy Tentacles On Glass', Aix En Provence, 1952 'Weed Against Sky', Aix En Provence, 1958 'Grasses, Wisconsin', 19591084215489Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
79Harry Callahan'Chicago', C. 194877451084210068-7.130
80Aaron Siskind'Three Studies From Martha'S Vineyard', 1954619692934956-46.7-20
81Ansel Easton Adams'Storm Over The Great Plains From Cimarron', New Mexico, 19601548923234Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
82Harry Callahan'Eleanor And Barbara, Chicago', 19531084215489Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
83William Eggleston'Untitled (Poster In Hallway)', From 'Dust Bells', 1970108421548910842-300
84Ernst Haas'Swimmer', 19727745108426196-42.9-20
85Steve Mccurry'Sharbat Gula, Afghan Girl, Pakistan', 19841858727880294295.658.3
86Sebastião Salgado'Iceberg Between Paulet Islands And The Shetland Islands, Antarctica', 2005154892323413940-40-10
87Sebastião Salgado'Brasil', 1983929312391Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
88Sebastião Salgado'The Outskirts Of Guatemala City', 19781084213940Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
89Josef Koudelka'Spain', 1971185872788018587-33.30
90Sebastião Salgado'Brazil', 19869293123918519-31.2-8.3
91Peter Beard'756 Elephants In Stressed-Out Formation, Tsavo Park, Kenya', 19761858727880Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
92Peter Beard'A Bend In The Tsavo River', 19761239118587Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
93Nick Brandt'Elephants Walking Through Grass, Amboseli', 2008619569293451114-45-17.5
94Peter Beard'Giraffes In Mirage On The Taru Desert, Kenya June For The End Of The Game', 19601548923234Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
95Nick Brandt'Lionesses Readying To Hunt', 20082323430978Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
96Peter Beard'Baboons, Impalas And Elephants Under Kilimanjaro', 1984619569293469701-2512.5
97Peter Beard'Darajani Rhino Roping', 1966123911858713166-29.26.3
98Peter Beard'Elephant Tussle In The Aberdare Forest, For The End Of The Game/Last Word From Paradise', 19721239118587Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
99Peter Beard'Loliondo Lion Charge', 1964123912185868139401-2512.5
100Nick Brandt'Two Giraffes Battling In The Forest, Maasai Mara', 20083097846467Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
101Nick Brandt'Elephant Herds Crossing Lake Bed, Amboseli', 20089293123918519-31.2-8.3
102Nick Brandt'Cheetah & Cubs, Maasai Mara', 2003309783872327880-28-10
103Nick Brandt'Leopard In Crook Of Tree, Nakuru', 2007108421548910068-35-7.1
104Hiroshi Sugimoto'Austrian Post Office Savings Bank', 2001154892323413940-40-10
105Hiroshi Sugimoto'Strait Of Gibraltar', 1995216852788026331-5.621.4
106Hiroshi Sugimoto'Arctic Ocean Nord Kapp', 1990216852788026331-5.621.4
107Daido Moriyama'Untitled, Hawaii', 2007/20087745108426970-35.7-10
108Hiroshi Sugimoto'Mechanical Form 0046: Material Testing Machine', 200561969293Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
109Zhang Huan'To Raise The Water Level In A Fish Pond (Close Up)', 1997232343097823234-250
110Zhang Huan'Chickenpox', New York, 20001084215489Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
111Bernd And Hilla BecherStudies Of Industrial Forms, C. 1965-706970110067958858-41.5-15.6
112Thomas Ruff'Haus Nr. 91', 19892323430978Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
113Bernd And Hilla BecherAufbreitungsanlange Für Kohle (Processing Plants For Coal), C. 1966-1971309784646723234-50-25
114Thomas Struth'Aoyama Cemetery 2', Tokyo, 19962788038723Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
115Andreas Gursky'Hong Kong Port', 19945421285190Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
116Thomas Struth'Pflanze Nr. 6, Malve, Wintherthur', 199261969293Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
117Thomas Struth'Pflanze Nr. 21, Dahlie, Wintherthur', 1992619692935886-36.7-5
118Thomas Struth'Pflanze Nr. 44, Clematis, Düsseldorf', 1993 'Pflanze, Nr. 45, Blaue Clematis, Düsseldorf', 19939293123918519-31.2-8.3
119Thomas Struth'Grosse Weisse Seerose, Nr. 53, Düsseldorf', 1993 'Rote Seerose, Nr. 55, Düsseldorf', 19931084215489Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
120Elger Esser'Macon', 19961858724782Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
121Thomas Ruff'M.D.P.N. 29', 20032168527880Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
122Candida Höfer'Palazzo Zenobio Venezia 2003'4646761956Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
123Robert Polidori'Velours Frappé Et L'Echelle', 1985232343097823234-250
124Darren AlmondFullmoon @ Eifel 3, 2010929312391154892566.7
125Robert Polidori'Chambre De Marie-Louise Bonaparte, Petit Trianon - Attique, Château De Versailles', 2008154892323415489-33.30
126Rinko KawauchiUntitled, From 'Aila', 20049293123918519-31.2-8.3
127Jean-Baptiste Huynh'Bougie I, France', 2008185872788018587-33.30
128Adam Fuss'Untitled', 20061548923234Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
129Adam FussUntitled, From The Series 'My Ghost', 1999619567744554212-30-12.5
130Shirin Neshat'Seeking Martyrdom #2', 1995.4646777445Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
131Vik Muniz'Carcere Vii, The Drawbridge, After Piranesi (Piranesi Prisons)', 20023872354212Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
132Massimo Vitali'Portfolio Of Landscapes With Figures', 200623234309784646750100
133Massimo Vitali'Viareggio Grande #474', 1999232343097824782-206.7
134Pierre Winther'The Underwater Project, Shark Riding', 19931239118587Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
135Michael Reisch'Landschaft 7/037', 200912391185879293-50-25
136Marcus LyonExodus, IV, Liberty Road, Texas, Usa', 2014123911858717038-8.337.5
137Paola Pivi'I Wish I Am A Fish', 20091858727880Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
138Ahmet Ertug'Peacock Room, Castello Sammezzano, Italy', 20143872354212Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
139Isaac Julien'Horizon/Elsewhere (Playtime)', 2013309784646730978-33.30
TOTAL (Sold lots):176730425216062066702-1816.9

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All images and lot info courtesy of Sotheby’s.