Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Auction Results: Photographic Literature & Fine Photographs, May 14, 2009 @Swann

The results of Swann's recent combination sale of photo books and photographs generally matched what we have come to see as a pattern of "soft economy" photography auction outcomes: the buy in rate was in the mid-thirties and the total proceeds were below the total Low estimate.

The only difference is that, for some reason, Swann consistently tends to have a meaningfully higher percentage of lots that sell below their Low estimate (in this case 38.02% of lots that sold were below the Low). On one hand, this is clearly a negative, as Swann's clients are just not paying what was expected by the consignors. A potential silver lining to this is however that I actually think that Swann is successfully finding buyers for works that might otherwise go unsold, especially at the lower end of the market. So while consignors may be disappointed that a work had proceeds under its estimate, the work at least sold at some price above the reserve, rather than passing.

The summary statistics are below (all results include the buyer’s premium):

Total Lots: 411
Pre Sale Low Total Estimate: $1572750
Pre Sale High Total Estimate: $2212700

Total Lots Sold: 263
Total Lots Bought In: 148
Buy In %: 36.01%
Total Sale Proceeds: $1031736

Here is the breakdown (using the Low, Mid, and High definitions from the preview post, here):

Low Total Lots: 383
Low Sold: 246
Low Bought In: 137
Buy In %: 35.77%
Total Low Estimate: $1333700
Total Low Sold: $706176

Mid Total Lots: 26
Mid Sold: 16
Mid Bought In: 10
Buy In %: 38.46%
Total Mid Estimate: $459000
Total Mid Sold: $267960

High Total Lots: 2
High Sold: 1
High Bought In: 1
Buy In %: 50.00%
Total High Estimate: $420000
Total High Sold: $57600

Only 61.98% of the lots that sold had proceeds in or above the estimate range. Surprises (defined as having proceeds of at least double the high estimate) included: lot 43, Edward Steichen, The Family of Man, at $840, lot 91, Sol Lewitt, Autobiography, at $4080, lot 149, Francis Frith, Scenes of Egypt, 1860 at $2040, lot 266, Minor White, Windowsill Daydreaming, 1958 at $26400, lot 318, W. Eugene Smith, Untitled, 1955 at $6240, lot 320, John Kennedy, Jr. salutes the casket of his dead father, 1963, at $4800, and lot 324, Moneta J. Sleet Jr., Pulitzer-prize winning photo of Mrs. Martin Luther Ling Jr., 1968 at $10800.

Complete lot by lot results can be found here.

Swann Galleries
104 East 25th Street
New York, NY 10010

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