Published: April 22, 2008
Totaling $17,608,525, the highest total in auction history for the category, Christie’s presented its most exciting week of photographs sales to date. The five auctions conducted on April 10 and 11 †fine photobooks; photographs from the collection of Gert Elfering; photographs by Diane Arbus from the collection of Bruce and Nancy Berman; photographs from various owners; and the Ansel Adams collection of photographs †collectively offered buyers the most versatile selection of photography. The unrivalled success of the sales, which were expected to realize in the region of $14.8 million, have demonstrated unprecedented strength and maturity in a market that continues to inspire growth and interest. Combined with February’s sale of photographs, the spring season totals $18,922,988, giving Christie’s continued market leadership in the category.
The sales kicked off with the collection of fine photobooks. Arguably the finest collection of its kind offered at auction to date, this sale realized $2,602,450. Almost without exception, every book in this private collection was distinguished by superb condition and provenance. Most of the books offered were signed or inscribed by the photographers, linking some of the key figures of Twentieth Century photography. Highlights included Jindrich Styrsky, Emilie prichazi ka mne ve snu, (Emily Comes to Me in a Dream), 1933, which sold for $193,000, and a complete set of artist’s books, 1963‱978, by Ed Ruscha, which sold for $121,000.
Photographs from the collection of Gert Elfering, an established collector and tastemaker, sold for a total of $4,373,200. The sale demonstrated the vibrant interest in fashion, beauty and high-style photography, and collectors around the globe were enticed by the most stunning images of the past 50 years. Among the sale’s top lots were the bold and breathtaking “Sie Kommen (Naked and Dressed),” Paris, 1981, by Helmut Newton, which sold for $241,000, and Irving Penn’s “Mouth for L’Oréal,” New York, 1986, dye-transfer print, which quadrupled its estimate and demanded $205,000.
The Bruce and Nancy Berman collection of photographs by Diane Arbus achieved $1,372,000 and was 100 percent sold. The collection highlighted some of Arbus’s most iconic photographs; “Child selling plastic orchids at night, N.Y.C.” 1963, was the sale’s top lot and went for $115,000, and “A family on their lawn one Sunday in Westchester, N.Y.,” 1968, achieved $91,000.
The sale of photographs by Ansel Adams from a California collection totaled $4,678,000. The works by the legendary American photographer saw heightened and competitive bidding from US buyers. The collection featured highlights from throughout Adams’s career, and a mural print of Adams’s stunning “Clearing Winter Storm, Yosemite,” 1944, sold for a staggering $481,000.
The photographs sale of various owners totaled $4,682,875 and smashed records for some of the greatest image-makers of the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries. Two masterpieces by Irving Penn demonstrated the breadth and scope of his artistic output from opposite sides of his working spectrum and set unprecedented prices for the artist. The iconic “Black and White Vogue Cover,” 1950, sold for $481,000 and set a world record for the artist in the morning session; this was to be broken hours later in the afternoon session by his “Cuzco Children,” 1948, which achieved $529,000 †the highest price at auction for a work by Penn.
Other highlights included Henri Cartier-Bresson’s “Hyeres, France,” 1932, which sold for $265,000 †a world record for the artist †and Robert Mapplethorpe, “Calla Lily,” 1988, which totaled $265,000.
Prices reported include the buyer’s premium. For information, 212-636-2000 or www.Christies.com .
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