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Steichen Print Leads Phillips’s $3.5 Million Photo Sale

Following on the heels of Chris­tie’s and Sotheby’s auctions of photography in mid-April (ANL, 4/20/10), which brought in a total of $14.4 million, Phillips de Pury & Company’s photography sale on April 16 brought in $3.5 million, clearing the low end of the overall estimate of $3.2 million/4.5 million.

NEW YORK—Following on the heels of Chris­tie’s and Sotheby’s auctions of photography in mid-April (ANL, 4/20/10), which brought in a total of $14.4million, Phillips de Pury & Company’s photography sale on April 16 brought in $3.5million, clearing the low end of the overall estimate of $3.2million/4.5million. Phillips’s photo sale last spring totaled $1.9million. Of 349 lots offered, 245, or 70 percent, were sold. By value the auction was 82 percent sold. The top lot was Wheelbarrow with Flower Pots, France, 1920, a palladium and ferroprussiate print by Edward Steichen, acquired by the consignor from the collection of the photographer’s widow, Joanna Steichen. The work sold for $194,500 on a $150,000/200,000 estimate. Also among the top-selling works was a platinum print by Robert Mapplethorpe, Ken Moody and Robert Sherman, 1984, which sold for $110,500 against a $60,000/80,000 estimate, and Diane Arbus’s Identical Twins, Roselle, NJ, 1967, which sold for $98,500 on a $70,000/90,000 estimate.

Among the more contemporary works, David LaChapelle’s Last Supper (Jesus is my Home­boy), 2003, sold for $134,500, the ­second-highest price for a work by the artist at auction (estimate: $60,000/80,000), and Hiroshi Sugi­moto’s Chapel of Notre Dame du Haut, 1998, was sold for $62,500, within the estimate of $50,000/70,000. Another work by LaChapelle in the top ten was Addicted to Diamonds, 1997, a color coupler print (from an edition of three) depicting a topless Amanda Lepore snorting diamonds off a mirror. Estimated at $40,000/60,000, it sold for $79,300.

Fashion photographs that sold well included a 1981 gelatin silver print of Saddle II, Paris, 1976, by Helmut Newton, which sold for $86,500 on a $40,000/60,000 estimate. And two works by Irving Penn (a top seller at both Sotheby’s and Christie’s earlier in the week)—Cocoa dress (Balenciaga), Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn, Paris, 1950 (printed before 1980), and Cuzco Children, Peru, December, 1948 (printed 2002)—were sold for $74,500 each on identical estimates of $60,000/80,000.

“We had a solid sale and are particularly pleased with the results of our higher value property,” Vanessa Kramer, Phillips’s director of photographs, New York, said after the sale. The higher overall sale volume, she noted, reflects “the growing confidence in the photographs market.”

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