Sotheby’s Photographs Sales Fetch Total Of $7.6 Million

László Moholy-Nagy, “Advertising Poster (Pneumatik),” 1924, fotoplastik, a unique object, comprising a gelatin silver print with extensive applied gouache and pigment, signed, dated and annotated “Reklameplakat (Fotoplastik)” by the photographer in ink, and with penciled reduction and other faint notations in unidentified hands on the reverse, 63/8  by 4½ inches, sold for $185,000.

NEW YORK CITY — Over two days, April 5 and 6, Sotheby’s auctions of photographs achieved a combined total of $7,605,566. The single-owner evening sale of photographs from an American collection on April 5, totaled $2,544,376, with 83 percent of lots sold, while the April 6 various-owner photographs sale brought $5,061,190. The top lot of the sales was “Two Shells” by Edward Weston, a 1927 print that represents the definitive early state of the image, which sold for $533,000.

Beth Iskander, vice president in Sotheby’s photographs department, commented, “We saw strong prices for many of the great Twentieth Century photographers, including Edward Weston, Edward Steichen, František Drtikol, Dorothea Lange and Imogen Cunningham. An artist record was set for Philippe Halsman when ‘Marilyn Monroe Jumping’ sold for $100,000, well over the $40/60,000 estimate.”

Christopher Mahoney, senior vice president in Sotheby’s photographs department, said, “Our various-owner photographs auction realized a solid total of $5,061,190, within our presale expectations and with 77 percent of lots sold. Major works by the masters of the medium, such as Robert Frank, Ansel Adams, Alfred Stieglitz and many others, were all sought by multiple bidders before achieving prices in excess of their high estimates.

László Moholy-Nagy is particularly well-represented in the top ten, with ‘Pneumatik’ selling for $185,000 and setting a record for a fotoplastik by the artist. Bidding was international, with considerable activity from South America and Europe, as well as a robust American market.

Prices reported include the buyer’s premium. For information, 212-606-7000 or

Edward Weston, “Two Shells,” 1927, realized $533,000.


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