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Old Favorites Do Well, But Swann Photo Sale Falls Short of Estimate

Swann Galleries’ recent sale of photo books and photographs on May 19 realized a total of $968,120, missing the estimate of $1.1 million/1.7 million.

NEW YORK—Swann Galleries’ recent sale of photo books and photographs on May 19 realized a total of $968,120, missing the estimate of $1.1 million/1.7 million. Of 391 lots on offer, 245, or 63 percent, found buyers. However several lots exceeded expectations amid the selective buying.

A portfolio of 15 black-and-white photographs by André Kertész, “A Hungarian Memory,” 1914–23 ( printed in 1980) sold for $48,000, a price well above the $18,000/22,000 estimate.

“In terms of the material offered, there is a trend we’ve seen in which clients focus on emblematic images by the very well known photographers,” said Daile Kaplan, director of Swann’s photography department. “We didn’t see the level of interest in the photo books that we were expecting.”

Other lots that met or surpassed estimates included a volume of 291, 1915–16, the magazine edited by Alfred Stieglitz, which sold for $31,200, just clearing the estimate of $20,000/30,000, and Roy DeCarava’s Dancers, 1956, printed in 1983, which sold for $22,800, on an estimate of $10,000/15,000, a record for a nonvintage print by the artist.

A portfolio of five photographs from 1935–6, printed in 1971, by Walker Evans, sold for $21,600 on an estimate of $20,000/30,000, while a portfolio of 10 photographs from 1932–51, printed in 1971, by Brassaï sold for $16,800, within the estimate of $12,000/18,000.

A group of 50 photographs, ca. 1878, attributed to Frederick Gutekunst, carried a modest estimate of $600/900, but sold for $15,600, and Edward Curtis’s The Scout, Apache, 1906, brought $10,200, well above the estimate of $4,000/6,000.

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