Friday, October 3, 2008

Auction: Photographs, October 16, 2008 @Phillips

Given the changes in the line up of specialists at Phillips over the years, it's not surprising that the character of its Photographs sales has meandered back and forth, in some periods focusing on vintage work, in others focusing on contemporary work. As a result, you never really know what kind of material is going to be in a Phillips sale. One unfortunate byproduct of changing strategies is that it is hard to develop a consistent flow of the very best, top quality material. As such, while Phillips has clearly established itself as the number three player in this market, to challenge the entrenched duopoly, it will need to win a higher percentage of consignments of the stand out lots. Unfortunately, to our eye, this sale is low on stars, and is thereby relegated to being a grab bag of run of the mill material.

There are a total of 227 lots in this sale, for a total estimate of $4059500. Here are the stats:

Total Low lots (high estimate of $10000 and lower): 108
Total Low estimate (sum of high estimates of Low lots): $788500

Total Mid lots (high estimate between $10000 and $50000): 111
Total Mid estimate: $2521000

Total High lots (high estimate above $50000): 8
Total High estimate: $750000

Compared with the Christie's and Sotheby's various owner sales, there are nearly twice as many low end lots, a third less mid range lots, and 75-80% less high end lots. They may be some bargains to be had, but I fear that we may see a meaningfully higher buy-in rate here, due mostly to the lesser quality of the material.

There aren't as many great fits for our collection in this sale, but here are a few we like:
  • Lot 15 Edward Weston, Nude on Sand, Oceano, 1936
  • Lot 26 Harry Callahan, Chicago, 1949/Later
  • Lot 27 Harry Callahan, Chicago, 1949/Later
  • Lot 131 Robert Mapplethorpe, Lisa Lyon, 1981

And although outside our collection themes, Lot 194 Izima Kaoru, Koike Eiko Wears Gianni Versace #423, 2004 is terrific.

October 16, 2008

Phillips De Pury & Company
450 West 15th Street
New York, NY 10011

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