Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Auction Results: Photographs, May 19, 2009 @Sotheby's London

While Sotheby's New York Photographs department continues to set the standard for the entire market, I think it is safe to say at this point that the London Photographs office has completely lost its way. With a buy-in rate approaching two thirds (at 64.29% the single worst buy in rate across all photography auctions so far this year) and proceeds less than half the total Low estimate, the mismatch between the material and the buyers in this sale was significant. At one point (between lots 10 and 40), there were a total of 2 sales against 29 passes; while we were not present, I can certainly imagine the anxiety in the room as pass after pass after pass piled up. The London sale last November was in the same dismal category, so there's likely some reevaluation going on (particularly with regard to 19th century material I would guess).

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

Total Lots: 154
Pre Sale Low Total Estimate: £964000
Pre Sale High Total Estimate: £1349000

Total Lots Sold: 55
Total Lots Bought In: 99
Buy In %: 64.29%
Total Sale Proceeds: £476500

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

Low Total Lots: 58
Low Sold: 22
Low Bought In: 36
Buy In %: 62.07%
Total Low Estimate: £264000
Total Low Sold: £85000

Mid Total Lots: 91
Mid Sold: 32
Mid Bought In: 59
Buy In %: 64.84%
Total Mid Estimate: £845000
Total Mid Sold: £318250

High Total Lots: 5
High Sold: 1
High Bought In: 4
Buy In %: 80.00%
Total High Estimate: £240000
Total High Sold: £73250

98.18% of the lots that sold had proceeds in or above the estimate range, with 34.55% above, so one silver lining was that the estimates were generally fair and appropriate. Unfortunately however, there were no surprises in this sale (defined as having proceeds of at least double the high estimate).

Complete lot by lot results can be found here.

34-35 New Bond Street
London W1A 2AA

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