PARIS—On June 30, Christie’s Paris held an auction of 67 works by the French fashion photographer Jeanloup Sieff (1933–2000). All the photos came from the private collection of German collector Gert Elfering, one of the world’s foremost connoisseurs of 20th-century photography, whose collection included works by Helmut Newton, Richard Avedon, Robert Mapplethorpe, Guy Bourdin and Diane Arbus, as well as the entire Horst archive.
Christie’s offered a selection of images from Sieff’s entire career, many from the 1960s: nudes, landscapes, fashion photography and portraits, including those of actors Yves Montand and Jane Birkin as well as filmmakers François Truffaut and Alfred Hitchcock.
The Paris-born Sieff began his career in 1954, shooting for Elle magazine, and was briefly connected with the Magnum agency. He lived and photographed in New York from 1961 to 1966, then returned to Paris, where his work—influenced by the French New Wave cinema and known for its elegance and cool sensuality—was published in Vogue, Esquire, Harper’s Bazaar and Glamour, among others.
The sale was estimated at €293,000/461,000, and achieved a total of €416,300 ($509,135). Of the lots offered, 49, or 73 percent, were sold and by value, the auction was 83 percent sold. Two new records for Sieff were realized in the sale. One of these, the top lot, a portrait of Yves Saint Laurent, Paris, 1971, sold for €39,400 ($48,186), more than tripling its high estimate of €10,000/15,000. Other top sellers included Derrière Anglais, Paris, 1969, which more than doubled the estimated €8,000/12,000 to sell for €27,400 ($33,510), achieving the second-highest price for a work by Sieff at auction. Par un jour pluvieux, Paris, 1975, sold for €22,500 ($27,535) against an estimate of €3,000/5,000, and the sensual Le tapis volant, Normandie, 1988, a nude on a dark towel, on an isolated, rock-covered beach surrounded by cliffs, sold for €22,500 ($27,518), more than tripling its high estimate of €5,000/7,000.
The glamorous fashion photograph Corset, New-York, 1962, sold for €18,750 ($22,931), surpassing its estimate of €10,000/15,000. The well-known Hommage à Seurat (variante), New-York, 1965, in which Sieff revisits poses of a model in a Georges Seurat painting, sold for €16,250 ($19,874) against an estimate of €10,000/15,000).
Francois Truffaut, Paris, 1959, sold for €6,875 ($8,413) on an estimate of €3,000/5,000. The photo of Birkin, 1968, sold for €10,000 ($12,238), doubling its high estimate of €3,000/5,000. However, Montand’s portrait, 1961, sold under the estimate of €4,000/5,000 for €3,500 ($4,283). An evocative 1962 image of Hitchcock posing menacingly behind fashion model Ina Balke on the set of Psycho sold for €8,125 ($9,943), nearly tripling its low estimate, €3,000/5,000.