PARIS—On Sept. 23, the season at Sotheby’s began with the auction of an eclectic private collection of contemporary art, photographs, furniture, and works of art from a flat on avenue Montaigne. The sale took in a total of €1.4million ($2.1million) for 224 lots on offer. In all, 181 lots, or 78 percent, were sold, with 53 percent of those surpassing their high estimates, opening the season on a strong positive note.
At the heart of the collection were 65 photographs, 60 of which found buyers. In one of the top ten sales of the auction, a Robert Mapplethorpe portrait of Donald Cann, 1982, doubled its estimate of €10,000/15,000 to sell for €35,550 ($52,329). Another of the top lots was a 1977 platinum-palladium print of a 1970 portrait of an Enga warrior by Irving Penn, which sold for €33,150 ($48,796) against an estimate of €25,000/30,000.
Other photographs that sold exceptionally well include three vintage silver prints, all New York cityscapes from the 1940s by Andreas Feininger, all with a high estimate of €4,000 ($5,900). One sold for €11,875 ($17,562); another sold for €12,500 ($18,487); the third, World’s Most Wonderful Snowstorm, sold for €8,125 ($12,016).
Broome Street, New York, 1940s, a vintage silver contact print of a cityscape by Berenice Abbott, sold for €10,625 ($15,714), doubling the high estimate of€5,000 ($7,394). Margaret Bourke-White’s vintage print Silver Fleet over Hudson River, ca. 1935, sold for €12,500 ($18,487), far surpassing the high estimate of €7,000 ($10,352). Several works by Hiroshi Sugimoto sold quite well, including Cabot Street Cinema, Massachusetts, 1978, a photograph of the interior of a theater. The silver print sold for€19,950 ($29,905) against an estimate of €15,000/18,000.
Works by Henri Cartier-Bresson—including a 1944 portrait of Henri Matisse—and by André Kertész sold well, as did a 1968 Rayogram by Man Ray, which surpassed the €8,000 high estimate to sell for €12,500 ($18,487). A 1934 silver print of Adolf Fassbender’s photograph White Night, New York, 1930, depicting the New York City skyline, sold for €16,250 ($24,033), more than three times its €4,000/5,000 estimate.
Two Herb Ritts photographs also surpassed their high estimates. Clay Nude on Mantle, 1989, estimated at €2,000/2,500, sold for €6,250 ($9,243); Waterfall IV, 1988, estimated at €4,000/6,000, sold for €10,000 ($14,789). Bruce Weber’s silver print Coast Guard on Leave, Honolulu, 1982, estimated at €2,000/3,000, sold for €7,500 ($11,092), and Peter Lindbergh’s portrait of model Helena Christensen for French Vogue, 1990, sold for €11,000 ($16,268), almost twice its €6,000 high estimate. Vik Muniz’s platinum print Equivalents (Teapot), 1993, just exceeded its €5,000/6,000 estimate, selling for€6,250 ($9,243).
Works of art had considerable success, as well. New York City–Spring 1962–Valentine, a collage by Joseph Cornell estimated at €15,000/20,000, sold for €18,750 ($27,730). A unique glass sculpture by French artist Jean-Michel Othoniel, Lustre, 2005, sold close to its €12,000 high estimate, bringing in €11,250 ($16,638). Another one-of-a-kind contemporary glass sculpture, Rob Wynne’s Big Green, #8, 2007, also estimated at €8,000/12,000, sold for €9,375 ($13,865).
An oil painting, ca. 1745, from the studio of Giovanni Paolo Panini was sold for €64,350 ($95,172), which put the work among the top lots of the auction, although it sold for less than its estimate of €80,000/120,000.