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Current News             Issue Archive             Article Archive E-Photo Newsletter   Issue 108   7/17/2006

Contemporary Auctions Set New Records: Christie's Post-War and Contemporary Sales Net $225 Million This May and June

By Stephen Perloff
Editor of The Photograph Collector

Where to begin? At Sotheby's impressionist and modern art sale on May 3, a previously unknown Russian buyer paid $95.2 million for Picasso's "Dora Maar au Chat", second only to the $104.5 million spent on another Picasso, "Garcon a la Pipe", which sold at Sotheby's in 2004.

And in June the cosmetics magnate Ronald S. Lauder purchased the dazzling gold-flecked 1907 portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer by Gustav Klimt for the Neue Galerie in Manhattan for $135 million, the highest sum ever paid for a painting. (The painting was the focus of a years-long restitution battle between the Austrian government and a niece of Mrs. Bloch-Bauer who argued that it was seized along with four other Klimt paintings by the Nazis during World War II. In January all five paintings were awarded to the niece, Maria Altmann, and other family members. Some stories do have good endings!)

What is happening in the art market--and especially the contemporary art market--can perhaps only be explained in the world of Lewis Carroll's Alice. We have stepped through the looking glass where things seem relatively familiar but behave much differently. And where Alice followed the White Rabbit to begin her adventures, we seem to be following the two rabbits in Adam Fuss's Cibachrome photogram Love. Its $90,000 selling price in the sale of the Refco collection at Christie's not only more than doubled its high estimate, it came close to doubling the previous highest price for any Fuss at auction. Record total and individual prices, selling prices at two, three, even ten times the estimates. Is this real or will we, like Alice, one day wake up from a reverie?

Christie's achieved a total result for post-war and contemporary art of $224,789,800 for the spring season of 2006. This is the highest total ever for the field, although it included numerous sales: First Open on March 16, the Refco collection of contemporary photography on May 5, the post-war and contemporary art evening sale on May 9 and the day sales on May 10.

First Open, Christie's mid-season sale devoted to contemporary art and contemporary collectors, took place on March 16 and at $9,584,560 nearly doubled the result of the inaugural First Open sale a year before. In all, 20 new artist records were set at this sale.

On May 5, Christie's organized the evening sale of the Refco collection of contemporary photography, which totaled $5,372,800 and doubled pre-sale expectations. The top lot of the sale was "Beach Scene / Nuns / Nurse (with Choices)" by John Baldessari ($150,000-200,000), which realized $744,000 and set a new world auction record for the artist.

Sigmar Polke's "Interior", 1984, a hand-colored silver print ($80,000-$120,000) leapt to $464,000. Andreas Gursky's "Avenue of the Americas", 2001, ($250,000-$350,000) went into the collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago for $374,400.

Thomas Demand's "Collection", 2002, ($80,000-$120,000) set a world auction record for the artist at $262,400. Other records were set for Olafur Eliasson's "The River Raft Series", 2000, 42 color coupler prints mounted on board in artist's frames ($120,000-$180,000) at $240,000; Ed Ruscha's "Gasoline Stations", 1962, printed in 1989, ten gelatin silver prints mounted on board ($60,000-$80,000) at $192,000 (a record for a photographic work by the artist); Eva Hesse's "Untitled", circa 1958, unique gelatin silver print photogram ($25,000-35,000) at $186,000; and Rodney Graham's "Welsh Oaks (#3)", 1998 ($70,000-$90,000) at $168,000.

Other significant prices were achieved for Charles Ray's "Untitled", 1973 ($120,000-$180,000), documenting his performance where he tied himself to a tree branch for several hours, at $168,000; and Gabriel Orozco's "Atomists: Making Strides", 1996, a computer-generated plastic-coated print on paper sheets mounted on two aluminum panels ($40,000-$60,000) at $162,000.

The evening sale of Post-War and Contemporary Art on May 9 totaled $147,235,200, just above the mid-point of the pre-sale estimates, the second highest total for a sale in the field. Twelve new world auction records were set. The highlight of the evening was Andy Warhol's "Small Torn Campbell Soup Can (Pepper Pot)", 1962, from the collection of Irving Blum, which realized $11,776,000 and set a world auction record for a painting of the Campbell Soup Can series. A group of works by Donald Judd, sold by the Judd Foundation to create an endowment, realized $24,468,800.

The photographic highlight of the Evening Sale was Mike Kelley's "Ahh…Youth", 1991, which sold to Peter Brant, the newsprint magnate and art collector, for $688,000, a world auction record for the artist.

The morning session, which did not included any photographs, achieved $40,746,200, against a pre-sale estimate of $22.6-$32 million, and set eight new world auction records. The afternoon session realized $21,851,040 and set 16 new records. Also included was a group of 95 photographs from the Refco collection.

Highlights of the afternoon session were Hiroshi Sugimoto's "English Chanel, Fecamp (T)" ($80,000-$120,000), which swam to $240,000, and Barbara Kruger's "Untitled (We Are the Objects of Your Suave Entrapments)" ($100,000-$150,000), which garnered a bid of $132,000.

The third and final installment of the Refco collection totaled $2,403,840--$800,000 above the pre-sale high estimate, with Bernd & Hilla Becher's "Watertowers (Typology)" ($40,000-$60,000) at $114,000 leading the way. Combining this total with the previous two auctions held on April 25 and May 5, the final figure for the Refco collection reached an astounding $9,709,120--over $3 million more than the highest of pre-sale expectations.

In the course of the three-auction, 321-lot sale, over 50 new world auction records were set for a wide array of international artists, some new to the market, others already firmly established. Amy Cappellazzo, international co-head of Christie's post-war and contemporary department, and Joshua Holdeman, international director of Christie's photographs department, said, "The sale of the Refco collection caused much excitement when announced two months ago. This highly influential international review of contemporary photography was eagerly received by the market, and Christie's has been honored to have been entrusted with its dispersal. We were particularly pleased with offering so many new and emerging artists to the secondary market--and were delighted with the final total and the numerous records set."

(Copyright ©2006 by The Photograph Collector.)


My thanks to Steve Perloff and The Photograph Collector Newsletter for giving me permission to use this information. The Photograph Collector, which is a wonderful newsletter that I can heartily recommend, is published monthly and is available by subscription for $149.95 (overseas airmail is $149.95). You can phone 1-215-891-0214 and charge your subscription or send a check or money order to: The Photograph Collector, 140 East Richardson Ave, Langhorne, PA 19047. Or for a subscription order form to The Photograph Collector Newsletter, go to: http://www.photoreview.org/collect.htm.

NYC Sotheby's Tops $185 Million On Two Days of Contemporary Art Sales, as Gursky Photo Hits Record of $2,256, 000

By Stephen Perloff
Editor of The Photograph Collector

Sotheby's May 10 evening sale of contemporary art earned a whopping $128,752,000, surpassing the high estimate of $123,650,000, and achieving the highest total for an evening sale of contemporary art at Sotheby's. New auction records were established for 10 artists, including Robert Ryman, Andreas Gursky, Christopher Wool, John Chamberlain, Lisa Yuskavage, Cecily Brown, Mark Di Suvero, Sean Scully, Blinky Palermo and Neo Rauch. Highlighting the evening was Willem de Kooning's "Untitled XVI", an abstract painting from 1975, which drew competition from no fewer than five bidders, finally selling for $15,696,000, and far surpassing its $8.5 million pre-sale high estimate. It shared the position of the evening's top lot with Roy Lichtenstein's iconic pop painting "Sinking Sun", which also brought $15,696,000. The sale was 96.9% sold by value and 95.4% sold by lot, with 35 lots selling for more than $1 million each.

"This was the most extraordinary sale we've ever had, exceeding expectations in every way," commented Tobias Meyer, worldwide head of contemporary art. "Collectors are buying with enormous passion and determination at levels we haven't seen before. Rare and iconic works with strong visual impact sparked ferocious competition with masterpieces transcending all price points."

The sole photograph in the evening sale, Andreas Gursky's "99 Cent", a large-scale work from 1999 of store shelves that was being sold by Peter Brant brought an astonishing $2,256,000 over an estimate of $1-$1.5 million, a record for the artist as well as for a contemporary photograph at auction and second only to Steichen's "Moonlight--The Pond".

In the day sale on May 11, estimates were also largely irrelevant. As Robert Looker, vice president of Sotheby's contemporary department, commented, "We are thrilled with today's hugely successful sale of Contemporary Art which totaled $56,348,200, topping the pre-sale high estimate of $23.8 million. This brings the two-day total for contemporary art at Sotheby's to $185,100,200, the highest total for contemporary art in Sotheby's history. As we saw last night, there was great depth of bidding across the board, and collectors bought what they liked. In many cases, quality works drove the competition to multiples of the estimates as evidenced by Takashi Murkami's "Nirvana", which sold for $1,136,000 ($300,000-$500,000), Ed Ruscha's "Metro Petro Neuro Psycho", which also sold for $1,136,000 ($180,000-$250,000), and Richard Pettibon's "Self Portrait as Goofy-Foot", which soared past the $70,000-$90,000 pre-sale estimate to bring $744,000, setting a new world record for the artist at auction."

The top photo lots of the day sale were Hiroshi Sugimoto's "Mirtoan Sea, Sounion" ($150,000-$200,000) at $307,200; Richard Prince's "Untitled (Cowboys)" ($180,000-$250,000) at $216,000 and his "Untitled (Bain de Soleil)" ($80,000-$120,000) at $156,000; "Nudes Pea 10" ($40,000–$60,000) at $156,000, "Nudes CA 04" ($50,000-$70,000) at $144,000, and "Substrat 7-11" ($60,000-$80,000) at $114,000, by Thomas Ruff; Andres Serrano's "Red Pope I-III"($60,000–$80,000) at $108,000; Louise Lawler's "Marilyn" ($30,000–$40,000) at $108,000; Peter Beard's "World-Record Class Black Rhino" (Circa 47"), "Aberdare Forest, 1972" ($50,000-$70,000) at $108,000; Cindy Sherman's "Untitled Film Still #54" ($100,000-$150,000) at $102,000; and Beard's "Loliondo Lion Charge" ($40,000-$50,000) at $96,000.

(Copyright ©2006 by The Photograph Collector.)


My thanks to Steve Perloff and The Photograph Collector Newsletter for giving me permission to use this information. The Photograph Collector, which is a wonderful newsletter that I can heartily recommend, is published monthly and is available by subscription for $149.95 (overseas airmail is $149.95). You can phone 1-215-891-0214 and charge your subscription or send a check or money order to: The Photograph Collector, 140 East Richardson Ave, Langhorne, PA 19047. Or for a subscription order form to The Photograph Collector Newsletter, go to: http://www.photoreview.org/collect.htm.

Phillips Sells Over $41 Million At Its Spring Contemporary Sales

By Stephen Perloff
Editor of The Photograph Collector

Phillips De Pury's contemporary art sales on May 11 and 12 were also remarkably strong. The evening sale sold 98% by value and 97% by lot, totaling $29,499,600. The contemporary day sale also proved successful with 84% lots sold by value and 77% sold by lot, totaling $11,696,320.

Jeff Koons's "Buster Keaton", 1988 was the top lot, selling for $2,704,000 with a high estimate of $1,800,000. It was bought by the Manhattan real estate developer Aby Rosen. Tom Wesselman's "Bedroom Painting #42", 1978, sold for a record-breaking price for the artist at $1,696,000.

Works by four emerging Asian artists did very well, each price setting records for the artist, including Nobuyashi Araki's photograph series, "100 Works for Robert Frank", which sold for $132,000.

Mike Kelley's "Ahh…Youth" ($350,000-$450,000) led the way among photographs at $688,000, tying the record for the artist just set at Christie's. It sold to David Ganek, a hedge fund manager and collector. Two other pictures sold for more than $400,000--John Baldessari's "The Duress Series: Person Kicking over Seated Person and Third Person Perhaps Protesting" ($150,000-$200,000) at $419,200, and Piotr Uklanski's "Untitled (Skull)" ($150,000-$200,000) at $408,000. And two others brought more than $300,000--Andreas Gursky's "Hong Kong, Shanghai Bank" ($180,000–$250,000) at $352,000; and Hiroshi Sugimoto's "Emperor Hirohito", estimated at only $40,000-$60,000, at $307,200 (a record for the artist).

Also topping the $100,000 mark were Gilbert & George's "Gum City" at $192,000, under the low estimate; Thomas Demand's "Wand (Mural)" ($150,000-$200,000) also at $192,000; Richard Prince's "Untitled (Cowboys") below estimate at $180,000; and Matthew Barney's "CREMASTER 3: The Song of the Vertical Field" ($80,000-$120,000) at $162,000.

Selling well over high estimate at $132,000 were Thomas Demand's "Rasen (Lawn)" and Andreas Gursky's "Untitled III". And at $120,000 were Barbara Kruger's "Untitled (We are not made for each other)" ($80,000-$120,000) and Zhang Huan's "Family Tree" ($50,000-$70,000).

One of the highlights of the sale was the Chinese photography section with work by Wang Ningde, Li Dafang, Fu Hong, Quan Yang, and Zhou Tiehai all fetching prices above the high estimate. Cui Xiuwen's, "Sanje", broke the artist's record and sold for $57,600.

In all, 26 artists' records were broken on the May 12th day sale, including Sophie Calle's "Twenty Years Later", 2001, at $64,800.

(Copyright ©2006 by The Photograph Collector.)


My thanks to Steve Perloff and The Photograph Collector Newsletter for giving me permission to use this information. The Photograph Collector, which is a wonderful newsletter that I can heartily recommend, is published monthly and is available by subscription for $149.95 (overseas airmail is $149.95). You can phone 1-215-891-0214 and charge your subscription or send a check or money order to: The Photograph Collector, 140 East Richardson Ave, Langhorne, PA 19047. Or for a subscription order form to The Photograph Collector Newsletter, go to: http://www.photoreview.org/collect.htm.

Photo San Francisco Opens This Week; Over 60 Exhibitors At 7th Annual Event; Discount For Newsletter Readers

Photo San Francisco 2006, the 7th Annual International San Francisco Photo-Based Art Exposition will be held July 20-23, 2006 at the historic Festival Pavilion at the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco. Galleries and private dealers from across the United States and around the world will exhibit for sale photographic art ranging from the results of early 19th-Century photographic experiments to photo-based art including video and digital art.

More than 60 premiere exhibitors representing an international array of artists will display photography at Photo San Francisco 2006.

Vintage Works, Ltd. will take a double booth (AB2), which will be close to the entrance. Please come and visit us and say hello. In addition to our extensive selection of top vintage 19th and 20th-century masterworks, we will feature the contemporary work of Marcus Doyle, Christophe Pruszkowski, Stanko Abadžic, Joel D. Levinson and Charlie Schreiner. You can see more of their work at: http://www.iphotocentral.com/showcase/showcase.php by scrolling down and clicking on their separate exhibits.

I Photo Central dealer Carl Mautz Vintage Photography will also be exhibiting at the show in booth A14. He will be featuring: Ruth Bernhard's "At the Pool"; two vintage nudes by Wynn Bullock; a large vintage "Grand Tetons" by Minor White, plus several of his abstractions; Todd Webb images of New York and Paris; Contemporary platinum prints by Gregory Leupp; plus vernacular and 19th-century California images. Many of these images can be seen on the I Photo Central website.

In addition to the booth displays organized by gallery, approximately ten areas throughout the Festival Pavilion will be set aside for a provocative mix of art installations, performance spaces and historical displays featuring video and mixed media work and making Photo San Francisco 2006 an event not to be missed. BEAT, a visual history of the Beat poets, GAY DAY, a never-before-seen collection of photos from a decade of New York's gay pride parade, the New Art Project, a curated video installation from Europe, and works from the Toronto-based 640 480 Video Collective are among the highly anticipated special installations to be featured during the exhibition.

An opening cocktail reception will be held on Thursday, July 20 from 6 to 9 p.m. to benefit Foto Forum/SFMOMA, a non-profit organization that brings together a diverse group of collectors, photographers, scholars and art professionals who share an enthusiasm for photography. Tickets are $60 each. To preregister for tickets online, you can go to: http://www.acteva.com/booking.cfm?binid=1&bevaID=112107 or buy your tickets at the door.

In tandem with the exhibition, a lecture series will take place July 21-23 with special guest speakers including internationally acclaimed artists Michael Childers and John Stoddart, Steve McCurry, Laura Letinsky, Ken Light, and Hank O'Neal. Additionally, John Bennette, a recognized curator and consultant, and Sandra Phillips, senior curator at SFMOMA, will lead collecting seminars with walk-throughs of the show at 10 a.m. on Friday, July 21st and Saturday, July 22nd respectively.

Normal exhibition hours are Friday, July 21st and Saturday, July 22nd, from12 to 7 p.m., and Sunday, July 23rd, from 12 to 6 p.m. Tickets are $15 for a one-day pass and $25 for a three-day pass. But if you print out this article and present it at registration you will get these tickets at the reduced rates of $10 and $15 respectively. This special rate is only available on site, but remember to bring your printout. Catalogues are an extra $5 each at the fair.

Lectures are $10 per person, per speaking engagement and onsite collecting seminars are $75 (price includes a 3-day pass). A student discount on lectures and the price of fair admission will be given to guests with valid I.D. Tickets to the opening benefit reception are $60 per person. All exhibition, lecture, panel discussion and opening reception tickets are available for purchase in advance or at the door. Seminar tickets should be purchased in advance. For additional information regarding Photo San Francisco 2006 and advance ticket sales, visit http://www.artfairsinc.com .

Obituaries: Arnold Newman, Robert Heinecken and Catherine Leroy

ARNOLD NEWMAN died in New York City at the age of 88. A noted portraitist, Newman had photographed every sitting President since Harry Truman, with the exception of the current President. Born in 1918, he became a freelance photographer for magazines like Fortune, Life, Newsweek, and Esquire, among others. His professional work began, however, in Miami and West Palm Beach in 1938, where his photographs of the urban poor were somewhat of a departure from his more structured environmental portraits. In 1945 Newman moved to New York where he remained until his death.

ROBERT HEINECKEN passed away at the end of May at the age of 74 from pneumonia. He was an artist and teacher whose work radically expanded the range of possibilities for photography as art. In one of his best known artistic performances Heinecken bought numerous copies of a current edition of Time magazine in 1969 and then, after adding his own antiwar images adapted from horrific news photos from the conflict, put them back on the newsstand shelves for unsuspecting customers. LA Times reporter Christopher Knight explained: "The pages of Heinecken's guerrilla "special edition" included superimposed lithographic prints of a recently published photograph showing a smiling soldier holding the decapitated heads of two anonymous Vietnamese youths. The shocking image was repeated indiscriminately over fashion advertisements and editorial news copy throughout the magazines. Between 1969 and 1994, he made 37 editions of variously collaged and overprinted magazines." There will be a memorial service in Los Angeles held on August 12 from 10 am-noon at the Charles E. Young Grand Salon in Kerckhoff UCLA.

CATHERINE LEROY, a war photojournalist, died in Santa Monica from cancer at age 60. Leroy worked for the Gamma and Sipa photo agencies and sold her work to the Associated Press and United Press International. Her photos appeared in publications worldwide, including Life magazine. She won a George Polk award for her Vietnam work in 1967 and was the first woman to receive the Robert Capa Award for her coverage of the civil war in Lebanon in 1976. Last year, she edited the Random House book "Under Fire: Great Photographers and Writers in Vietnam".

New Dates in April Announced By AIPAD; Auctions Reschedule to Match AIPAD

After a stunning success in its new venue at the 7th Regiment Armory, AIPAD's The Photography Show, which has usually been held in mid-February, will move its dates to April 12-15 next year.

The move reportedly threw the New York auction houses plans into a tizzy, with no February show to underpin those auctions. In addition, Sotheby's, Christie's and Phillips are all reportedly adjusting their Spring auction dates to coincide with the new dates of the AIPAD show.

The AIPAD show will keep its new exhibition space at the 7th Regiment Armory, Park Ave and 67th St, New York City.