The annual March/April photography auctions just wrapped up in New York, ringing in a total of $17.2 million for the three big houses—Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Phillips. As the graph above shows, it was a close fight, with Phillips bringing in a touch more than its rivals. That is in sharp contrast to the contemporary art market, a category that Christie’s has typically dominated in recent years, with Phillips coming in a distant third.
Looking at the New York photography sales over the last 10 years, which take place around March/April and September/October, one sees huge prices leading up to the art-market crash in late 2008. The market then bottomed out in 2009, as a total of only $19 million was brought in by the three houses over the course of the entire year. In the years since, totals at the big three have crept back toward their pre-recession highs, but one is not seeing the massive spikes in prices that have dominated headlines after contemporary-art sales in recent years.