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Sotheby's: Photographs Auction Recap

  • Sotheby's auction recap
  • Sotheby's auction recap
April 4, 2015

One of the most successful auctions of the year so far has taken place at Sotheby’s in New York. Auction simply called Photographs consisted of wide range photographs – from 19th Century to works by Post-War photographers. The stars of Wednesday’s auction were Lee Friedlander’s The Little Screens series of 38 photographs and Nicholas Nixon’s extended portrait series of The Brown Sisters, that included 40 photographs that was taken one each year between 1975 and 2014. Although these two lots were equally estimated ($200,000 – $300,000), Lee Friedlander’s work just exploded and was sold for $700,000.

Sotheby's auction recap
W. Eugene Smith – Welsh Miners , 1950 (Lot 96)

The Big Picture of Sotheby’s: Photographs

The percent of sold lots was 76.6 percent – out of 188 lots, 144 were sold. Good, but nothing spectacular. Also, the number of lots that were sold over their high estimates was solid, but not outstanding – 46 out of 144 lots were sold over high estimate (24.5 percent of total and 32 percent of sold lots). Fifty lots were sold in range of estimated values (34.7 percent of sold lots), and 48 changed owners under low estimate (33 percent). Again, solid numbers, but not that big of a deal. But, when we look at total numbers, we could get the picture. Those 144 lots were sold for $4.16 million, which was +2.7 percent higher than the sum of high estimates for sold lots ($4.05 million). And that’s not that common.

Sotheby's auction recap
Robert Frank- Daytona Beach, 1958 (Lot 93)

The Winners of Sotheby’s: Photographs

As we said, the unanimous winner of Sotheby’s: Photographs was Lee Friedlander’s The Little Screens, a suite of 38 photographs, that was estimated at $200,000 – $300,000, and was sold for $700,000, or with excellent +133.3 percent difference between hammer price and high estimate. This wasn’t good enough to beat this week’s best result when it comes to photography, Helmut Newton’s Walking Women, Paris from 1981, that was sold for $750,000 at Photographs Evening Sale at Phillips. However, Lee Friedlander’s work was estimated much lower, so one could say that, in a way, this is the best result of the week. Nicholas Nixon’s The Brown Sisters, 40 photographs taken in 40 years, was estimated as Friedlander’s work, and was sold for high estimate – $300,000. László Moholy-Nagy’s Negative/Positive Photogram Pair was sold for $270,000, and Pierre Dubreuil’s Notre Dame De Paris had +33.3 percent difference on high estimate – it was sold for $160,000. Paul Strand’s Fred Briehls Barn, Wallkill, N. Y. went for $110,000, Edward Weston’s Church, Motherlode (Church Door, Hornitos) doubled its high estimate and was sold for $100,000, and that was the last lot that went for six-figure price. Richard Avedon’s Marilyn Monroe, Actress, New York City changed hands for $85,000, and Ansel Adams’ Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico went for $70,000, or $10,000 under its low estimate. Shirin Neshat’s Untitled (From The Series Women Of Allah) was also sold for $70,000, as well as Francesca Woodman’s From The Eel Series, Rome. It is interesting that iconic photo by iconic photograph – Henri Cartier-Bresson’s Rue Mouffetard from 1954 was sold both at Sotheby’s: Photographs and Phillips: Photographs Day Sale. The result? At Sotheby’s, it was sold for $17,000. At Phillips – for $15,000. Also, Helmut Newton’s Tied-Up Torso, Ramatuelle at Sotheby’s was sold for $8,500, and at Phillips for $12,000. When we speak of the biggest difference between hammer price and high estimate, Yousuf Karsh’s Georgia Okeeffe was sold for more than three times its high estimate, or with 214.3 percent difference (it was estimated at $5,000 – $7,000, and was sold for $22,000). Larry Sultan’s Practicing Golf Swing was estimated at the same range as Karsh’s work, and it had hammer price at $20,000 (185.7 percent difference). Robert Adams’ Boulder County, Colorado was estimated at $8,000 – $12,000, and was sold for $30,000 (150 percent difference). And just then it comes Lee Friedlander’s The Little Screens and its +$400,000 difference between hammer price and high estimate (133.3 percent).

Sotheby's auction recap
Robert Adams – Boulder County, Colorado, 1973 (Lot 17)

The Unsold Ones at Sotheby’s: Photographs

Paul Strand’s Rebecca had the highest estimated value of the auction, $300,000 – $500,000, and remained unsold, as well as two works that were estimated at $70,000 – $100,000: László Moholy-Nagy’s In The Sand and Diane Arbus’ Young Boy With A Button And Flag In A Pro-War Parade, N. Y. C. (Patriotic Young Man). On the other hand, Walker Evans’ Selected Studies Of New England Architecture was sold for $4,000, or with -60 percent difference between hammer price and low estimate, and that was the worst result among sold ones.

Please, scroll down to see all details of every auctioned photograph at Sotheby’s auction of photographs on Wednesday.

  • Sotheby's auction recap

Sotheby's: Photographs in Details

Total number of lots:188
Number of sold lots:144
Sold lots [%]:76.6
Number of sold lots over high estimate:46
Over high estimate (Total) [%]:24.5
Over high estimate (Sold) [%]:32
Number of sold lots in range of estimated values:50
In range of estimated values (Sold) [%]:34.7
Number of sold lots under low estimate:48
Under low estimate (Sold) [%]:33.3
Results were under estimate spread of [%]:33.8
Lot No.Artist NameArtwork NameLow Estimate $High Estimate $Hammer Price $Hammer High Estimate Difference [%]Hammer Low Estimate Difference [%]
1Ansel AdamsAspens, Northern New Mexico200003000020000-33.30
2Ansel AdamsStream, Sea, Clouds, Rodeo Lagoon, California7000100001500050114.3
3Ansel AdamsSierra Nevada From Lone Pine, California (Winter Sunrise)2500035000380008.652
4Ansel AdamsCigar Store Indian, Powell St., San Francisco, Cal.500070005000-28.60
5Ansel AdamsPortfolio Two: The National Parks & Monuments400006000060000050
6Ansel AdamsThundercloud, Unicorn Peak, Yosemite National Park, California700010000110001057.1
7Ansel AdamsForest, Castle Rock State Park, California70001000022000120214.3
8Ansel AdamsSelected Images Of Yosemite1000015000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
9Ansel AdamsMoonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico8000012000070000-41.7-12.5
10Pirkle JonesSun And Wave600090004500-50-25
11William GarnettDeath Valley — Salt7000100008500-1521.4
12Ansel AdamsClearing Winter Storm, Yosemite National Park250003500030000-14.320
13Ansel AdamsMoon & Half Dome, Yosemite National Park20000300004000033.3100
14Ansel AdamsAutumn Storm Near Las Trampas, New Mexico1000015000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
15Ansel AdamsRoad After Rain, Northern California8000120002200083.3175
16Ansel AdamsOak Tree, Rain, Sonoma County Hills, California700010000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
17Robert AdamsBoulder County, Colorado80001200030000150275
18Robert AdamsAlkali Lake, Albany County, Wyoming8000120001700041.7112.5
19Edward WestonSelected Images7000100001800080157.1
20Ansel AdamsIce On Lake, Sierra Nevada, California500070005500-21.410
21Ansel AdamsOrchard, Santa Clara Valley, California8000120001600033.3100
22Eliot PorterIntimate Landscapes50007000800014.360
23Eliot PorterGlen Canyon500070001000042.9100
24Walker EvansLa Catedral De La Virgen María De La Concepción Inmaculada, Havana50007000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
25Manuel Álvarez BravoEl Ensueño (The Daydream)500070004500-35.7-10
26Dorothea LangeTaos200003000060000100200
27Johan HagemeyerFrom S. F. Ferry Building Steps (San Francisco)150002500017000-3213.3
28Consuelo KanagaSunflower50007000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
29Edward WestonDiego Rivera120001800014000-22.216.7
30Manuel Álvarez BravoVecina50007000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
31Gambier BoltonA Captive Unconquered150002500010000-60-33.3
32Eadweard MuybridgeSelected Motion Studies25000350006000071.4140
33Eugène CuvelierFranchard, Foret De Fontainebleau3000050000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
34Francis FrithThe Pyramids Of Sakkarah, From The North East150002500014000-44-6.7
35Anonymous American PhotographerGouverneur Kemble Warren As A West Point Cadet1500025000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
36Lewis W. HineSadie Pfeifer, 48 Inches High. Has Worked Half A Year. One Of The Many Small Children At Work In Lancaster Cotton Mills200003000024000-2020
37Lewis W. HineImmigrants, Ellis Island (Italians Looking For Lost Luggage)400006000032000-46.7-20
38Paul StrandRebecca300000500000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
39Edward Steichen (1879-1973) / George Tice (B. 1938)Edward Steichen: Twenty-Five Photographs500070005000-28.60
40Alfred Stieglitz, EditorCamera Work, Nos. 1-47000100005500-45-21.4
41Alvin Langdon CoburnLondon800012000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
42Alvin Langdon CoburnNew York120001800011000-38.9-8.3
43Alfred StieglitzSong Of The Sky And Trees10000150008000-46.7-20
44Paul StrandFred Briehls Barn, Wallkill, N. Y.100000150000110000-26.710
45Man RayPont De La Concorde7000100007000-300
46BrassaïLe Baiser, Boulevard Saint-Jacques (The Swing)80001200012000050
47BrassaïCouple At The Bal Des Quatre Saisons, Rue De Lappe250003500032000-8.628
48László Moholy-NagyIn The Sand70000100000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
49László Moholy-NagyAlpenveilchen (Photogramm)2000030000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
50László Moholy-NagyGletscher4000060000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
51Henri Cartier-BressonLast Days Of The Kuomintang, Merchant Waiting With Man Eating, Beijing10000150008500-43.3-15
52Henri Cartier-BressonBehind The Gare Saint-Lazare, Paris10000150009500-36.7-5
53André KertészChez Mondrian50007000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
54André KertészA Hungarian Memory10000150008000-46.7-20
55Pierre Dubreuil (1872-1944)/Tom Jacobson (B. 1948)The First Round600090001100022.283.3
56Man RayLee Miller3000050000550001083.3
57André KertészDistortion No. 173700010000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
58André KertészMelancholic Tulip50007000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
59FrantišEk DrtikolHalf-Nude500007000038000-45.7-24
60Pierre DubreuilNotre Dame De Paris8000012000016000033.3100
61Henri Cartier-BressonOn The Banks Of The Marne, France8000120008500-29.26.3
62Henri Cartier-BressonIle De La Cité, Paris70001000010000042.9
63Bruce DavidsonWelsh Miners500070004000-42.9-20
64Henri Cartier-BressonRue Mouffetard150002500017000-3213.3
65Alfred EisenstaedtPremier At La Scala — Milan50007000900028.680
66László Moholy-NagyNegative/Positive Photogram Pair200000300000270000-1035
67László Moholy-NagyComposition Gz Iv150002500015000-400
68László Moholy-NagyFotogramm5000070000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
69Ansel AdamsAspens, Northern New Mexico120001800010000-44.4-16.7
70Ruth BernhardClassic Torso600090005000-44.4-16.7
71Ansel AdamsWhite Branches, Mono Lake, California7000100005500-45-21.4
72Yousuf KarshGeorgia Okeeffe5000700022000214.3340
73Edward WestonChurch, Motherlode (Church Door, Hornitos)3000050000100000100233.3
74Manuel Álvarez BravoLa Hija De Los Danzantes (The Daughter Of The Dancers)500070004000-42.9-20
75Ansel AdamsEdward Weston, Carmel Highlands, California50007000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
76Ansel AdamsMount Williamson From Manzanar, California150002500012000-52-20
77Ansel AdamsMorning Mist, Cascade Pass, Washington7000100005500-45-21.4
78Eugène AtgetVersailles700010000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
79William Henry Fox TalbotSelected Images500070004000-42.9-20
80Julia Margaret CameronSelected Portraits700010000110001057.1
81Peter Henry EmersonSelected Images7000100006500-35-7.1
82Heinrich KühnOn The Shore5000700075007.150
83Paul StrandMan In A Derby, New York10000150007500-50-25
84Alfred StieglitzThe Steerage120001800014000-22.216.7
85BrassaïBal Musette Des Quatre-Saisons, Rue De Lappe50007000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
86BrassaïBijou Á Paris (Montmartre)500070003800-45.7-24
87Edward SteichenMatisse6000900095005.658.3
88Irving PennPablo Picasso At La Californie, Cannes2500035000380008.652
89WeegeeThe Critic700010000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
90Helen LevittNyc (Masked Children By Tree)500070004000-42.9-20
91Lee FriedlanderWhite Plains, New York700010000110001057.1
92Henry Wessel, Jr.Buena Vista, Colorado600090001000011.166.7
93Robert FrankDaytona Beach15000250004200068180
94Diane ArbusYoung Boy With A Button And Flag In A Pro-War Parade, N. Y. C. (Patriotic Young Man)70000100000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
95Henri Cartier-BressonHyères, France9000120001400016.755.6
96W. Eugene SmithWelsh Miners600090006500-27.88.3
97Arnold NewmanIgor Stravinsky5000700014000100180
98Berenice AbbottOld Law Tenements From Forsyth And East Houston Streets50007000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
99Berenice AbbottCorlears Street, #3-55000700075007.150
100Wilson A. BentleySelected Images Of Snowflakes10000150001700013.370
101Eugène AtgetFarm Wagon60009000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
102Berenice AbbottGunsmith And Police Department500070003000-57.1-40
103Berenice AbbottNew York At Night7000100007500-257.1
104Helen LevittN. Y. (Child With Mask And Gun)50007000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
105Helen LevittN. Y. C. (Knight In Harlem)60009000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
106Walker EvansSelected Studies Of New England Architecture10000150004000-73.3-60
107Walker EvansWall Street Windows200003000020000-33.30
108Walker EvansLicense Photo Studio, New York10000150002400060140
109Edward WestonNew York Interior (Charis)30000500006000020100
110Lee FriedlanderNyc (Father Duffy)1200018000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
111Robert FrankNyc (Sagamore Cafeteria)80001200011000-8.337.5
112Garry WinograndGarry Winogrand2500035000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
113Nicholas NixonThe Brown Sisters200000300000300000050
114Larry SultanSelected Images From The Series Pictures Of Home8000120008000-33.30
115Alec SothFalls Manor500070004200-40-16
116Larry SultanPracticing Golf Swing5000700020000185.7300
117Larry SultanMy Mother Posing For Me8000120002200083.3175
118Richard AvedonThe Chicago Seven2000030000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
119Diane Arbus/Neil SelkirkBurlesque Commedienne In Her Dressing Room, Atlantic City, N.J.1000015000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
120Diane Arbus/Neil SelkirkMasked Woman In A Wheelchair, Pa8000120008500-29.26.3
121Irving PennJasper Johns (A) (New York, June 8, 2006)500070001300085.7160
122Irving PennJohn Marin50007000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
123Robert RauschenbergCy + Relics – Rome7000100005500-45-21.4
124Duane MichalsPortrait Of Andy Warhol80001200028000133.3250
125Irving PennRock Groups (San Francisco)200003000028000-6.740
126Richard AvedonMarilyn Monroe, Actress, New York City50000700008500021.470
127Irving Penn4 Unggai12000180002000011.166.7
128Irving PennYoung Man, Cuzco700010000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
129Irving PennRoe Deer2000030000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
130Irving PennBlack Rhino200003000018000-40-10
131Peter BeardRunning Zebras800012000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
132Peter BeardMagritte Rammé With World Record Elephant Tusks8000120008000-33.30
133Peter BeardSelected Diary Pages80001200012000050
134Peter BeardLarge Crocodile, 15-16 Feet, Uganda (Leviathan)120001800012000-33.30
135Robert ParkeharrisonKingdom100001500011000-26.710
136Lynn DavisMosque De Djenne, Mali500070007000040
137Joel-Peter WitkinHarvest, Philadelphia1200018000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
138Robert ParkeharrisonCloud Machine700010000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
139Hiroshi SugimotoLake Michigan, Gills Rock200003000018000-40-10
140Hiroshi SugimotoTime Exposed1000015000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
141Hiroshi SugimotoOrinda Theatre, Orinda200003000018000-40-10
142Hiroshi SugimotoFox Theatre, Detroit, Mich.200003000022000-26.710
143Lewis BaltzIndustrial Structure During Painting, Irvine, From The Series The New Industrial Parks Near Irvine, California10000150002600073.3160
144Robert RauschenbergPhotem Series I, #1 (Bobs Hand)  300005000045000-1050
145Lee FriedlanderThe Little Screens200000300000700000133.3250
146Harry CallahanChicago (Trees In Snow)120001800010000-44.4-16.7
147Harry CallahanBob Fine, Chicago10000150008500-43.3-15
148Thomas StruthNorth Garland Court, Chicago7000100001600060128.6
149William EgglestonBar, Graceland60008000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
150William EgglestonMonkey Statuette, Graceland500070005500-21.410
151Tina BarneyThe Orange Room (From The Series The Europeans)70001000010000042.9
152William EgglestonCadillac400006000040000-33.30
153Dan GrahamImages From Homes For America80001200011000-8.337.5
154Kota EzawaSlide (From The History Of Photography Remix)7000100005500-45-21.4
155Carrie Mae WeemsBlue Black Boy200003000020000-33.30
156William Eggleston10 D.70.V23000050000550001083.3
157Olafur EliassonThe Chinese Series250003500022000-37.1-12
158Vik MunizTackle (From The Series Pictures Of Chocolate)300005000022000-56-26.7
159Vanessa BeecroftVb43.008Te (Small)500070005500-21.410
160Laurie SimmonsRoom Underneath (Gold)500070004000-42.9-20
161Nan GoldinAmanda On My Fortuny, Berlin80001200011000-8.337.5
162Vik MunizTorso (After František Drtikol, From Pictures Of Soil)150002500014000-44-6.7
163Edward WestonNude (Tina On The Azotea)7000100009000-1028.6
164Helmut NewtonNude In Seaweed, St. Tropez (From Private Property Suite I)50007000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
165Robert MapplethorpeLisa Lyon (In Corset)10000150008000-46.7-20
166Robert MapplethorpeLisa Lyon (In Water)8000120006000-50-25
167Shirin NeshatUntitled (From The Series Women Of Allah)40000600007000016.775
168Helena AlmeidaPonto De Fuga500007000065000-7.130
169Sally MannSunday Funnies600090004800-46.7-20
170Ray K. MetzkerWinged Certainties700010000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
171Francesca WoodmanContact Sheet (Self-Portrait, Providence, Rhode Island)800012000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
172Ray K. MetzkerSoxy (Composite)8000120007000-41.7-12.5
173Duane MichalsHomage To Cavafy7000100004000-60-42.9
174Joel-Peter WitkinPortrait Of Isabella Brant500070004000-42.9-20
175Francesca WoodmanUntitled, Providence, Rhode Island, Relating To The Series, A Woman. A Mirror. A Woman Is A Mirror For A Man250003500025000-28.60
176Francesca WoodmanUntitled (Self-Portrait, Providence, Rhode Island)300005000048000-460
177Francesca WoodmanFrom The Eel Series, Rome30000500007000040133.3
178Francesca WoodmanSelf Portrait With Liza, Providence, Rhode Island300005000030000-400
179Francesca WoodmanUntitled, Boulder, Colorado300005000032000-366.7
180Lucien ClergueSelected Portfolios70001000010000042.9
181Helmut NewtonMercedes At Home, Paris7000100007000-300
182Helmut NewtonTwo Models In My Apartment, Paris10000150008500-43.3-15
183Helmut NewtonTied-Up Torso, Ramatuelle10000150008500-43.3-15
184Peter BeardBeverly Johnson In Driftwood Cove (Montauk Point C/O Peter Beard)800012000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
185Annie LeibovitzSelected Vanity Fair Portraits50007000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
186Peter BeardBianca On The Diving Board Overlooking Driftwood Cove (Montauk Point 1970S)700010000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
187Terry O'NeillFaye Dunaway At The Beverly Hills Hotel10000150008000-46.7-20
188Julius ShulmanSelected Images Of Case Study House #22, Los Angeles (Stahl House By Pierre Koenig)7000100001500050114.3
TOTAL:358200054140004160300-23.216.1
TOTAL (Sold lots):2692000405000041603002.754.5

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Sotheby's auction recap
Shirin Neshat – Untitled (From the Series Women of Allah), 1996 (detail) (Lot 169)
Sotheby's auction recap
Edward Weston – Church, Motherlode (church Door, Hornitos), 1940 (Lot 73)
Sotheby's auction recap
Francesca Woodman – Untitled (Self-portrait, Providence, Rhode Island), 1975-76 (Lot 176)
Sotheby's auction recap
Edward Weston – Nude (Tina on the Azotea), 1967 (detail), (Lot 163)
Sotheby's auction recap
Francis Frith – The Pyramids Of Sakkarah, From The North East,1858 (Lot 34)
Sotheby's auction recap
Helmut Newton – Mercedes at Home, Paris, 1975 (detail) (Lot 181)
Sotheby's auction recap
Robert Mapplethorpe – Lisa Lyon (in Corset), 1981 (Lot 165)
Sotheby's auction recap
Henri Cartier-Bresson – Rue Mouffetard, 1954 (Lot 64)
Sotheby's auction recap
Helmut Newton – Tied-Up Torso, Ramatuelle (a plate from Private Property Suite II), 1980 (Lot 183)
Sotheby's auction recap
Hiroshi Sugimoto – Lake Michigan, Gills Rock, 1995 (Lot 139)
Sotheby's auction recap
Man Ray – Lee Miller, 1930 (Lot 56)
Sotheby's auction recap
Helmut Newton – Nude in Seaweed, St. Tropez (From Private Property Suite I), 1981 (Lot 164)
Sotheby's auction recap
Nan Goldin – Amanda on My Fortuny, Berlin, 1993 (detail) (Lot 161)
Sotheby's auction recap
Richard Avedon – Marilyn Monroe, Actress, New York City, 1957 (Lot 126)
Sotheby's auction recap
Robert Mapplethorpe – Lisa Lyon (In Water), 1982 (Lot 166)
Sotheby's auction recap
Vanessa Beecroft – Vb43.008te (Small), 2000 (Lot 159)
Sotheby's auction recap
Robert Rauschenberg – Cy + Relics – Rome (1952) (Lot 123)
Sotheby's auction recap
Sally Mann – Sunday Funnies, 1991 (Lot 169)

Featured image: – Lee Friedlander – The Little Screens (A Suite of 38 Photographs), 1961-70 (Lot 145) – Nicholas Nixon – The Brown Sisters (The Complete-to-date Suite Of 40 Photographs From The Brown Sisters Series), 1975-2014 (Lot 113)

Also in slider: – Ansel Adams – Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, 1941 (Lot 9)

All images courtesy of Sotheby’s.