On April 10th I attended Christie's auction of rare Photobooks from an Important Private Collection. Believe it or not this was my first attendance at an auction as opposed to just going to the preview. I never felt it necessary to follow up and attend the actual event mostly because -- well -- I can't afford anything. But this time my curiosity got the better of me and I sat through three hours of auction time and watched in amazement at what transpired.
First of all, there was absolutely no sign of a faltering economy. It was if we had returned to the height of the dot-com bubble, Bush Jr. hadn't yet become a war criminal, and all there was to worry about was a stain on a blue dress. Secondly, over half of the books sold at close to or well above their highest estimate. Lastly, the one book that had become a shining example from the sale of the ultimate association copy, Brassai's Paris De Nuit signed to Andre Kertesz was withdrawn before the sale. I heard that this was due to the cover of the book becoming detached during the preview but this has not been yet confirmed to me. According to the auction results, the tally on the day's take is hovering near 2.5 million US dollars (including the buyer's premium) from the 200 books offered.
In keeping with my usual jealousy and bitterness towards those who can afford such extravagances I've decided to parallel the auction results with the average annual median income (AMI) for families in different countries around the world. Ready?
Laszlo Maholy-Nagy - Malerie Photografie Film Est: $7,000-10,000 Final
Germain Krull - Metal Est: $20,000-30,000 Final
Piet Zwart - NFK Est: $10,000-15,000 Final
August Sander - Antlitz Der Zeit Est: $9,000-12,000 Final
Walker Evans - The Bridge Est: $9,000-12,000 Final
Lewis Hine - Men At Work Est: $5,000-8,000 Final
Jindrich Styrsky - Emilie Prichazi Ka Mne Ve Snu Est: $60,000-90,000 Final
Rodchenko and Stepanova - 10 Let Uzbekistana SSR Est: $15,000-20,000 Final
George Hugnet - La Carte Surrealiste Est: $5,000-8,000 Final
El Lissitzky - No Pasaran! Ispaniia Est: $1,200-1,800 Final
Rodchenko and Stepanova - Pervaia Konnaia Est: $10,000-15,000 Final
Rodchenko and Stepanova - Moskva Rekonstruiruetsia Est: $12,000-18,000 Final
Manuel Alvarez Bravo - Fotografias Est: $7,000-10,000 Final
Weegee - Naked City w/letter Est: $8,000-12,000 Final Sale: $30,000 AMI:
Robert Frank - The Americans Est: $10,000-15,000 Final
Ed Ruscha - Complete artist books Est: $60,000-90,000 Final Sale: $100,000 AMI:
Harry Callahan - Photographs Est: $4,000-6,000 Final
Emmet Gowin - Concerning
Provoke 1,2,3 Est: $12,000-18,000 Final
Lee Friedlander - Self Portrait (misprinted cover) Est: $3,500-4,500 Final Sale: $8,000 AMI:
Nobuyoshi Araki - A Sentimental Journey Est: $7,000-12,000 Final
Daido Moriyama - Shashin Yo Sayonara Est: $10,000-15,000 Final
Robert Adams - The New West Est: $3,500-4,500 Final
William Eggleston - Morals of Vision Est: $28,000-35,000 Final
Richard Misrach - Grapestake Gallery Est: $3,000-5,000 Final
Nan Goldin - Ballad of Sexual Dependency Est: $1,500-2,000 Final
Allen Ginsberg - Photographs Est: $10,000-15,000 Final
Sophie Calle - La Fille Du Docteur Est: $4,000-6,000 Final
Hiroshi Sugimoto - Time Exposed Est: $9,000-12,000 Final
Richard Prince - Adult Comedy Action Drama Est: $20,000-30,000 Final
The books that were on my wish list were:
Zdenek Tmej - Abeceda Dusevniho Prazdna Est: $6,000-9,000 Final
Yukata Takanashi - Toshi-e Est: $4,000-6,000 Final
Bill Brandt - Londres De Nuit Est: $4,000-6,000 Final
El Lissitzky - Red Army of Workers and Peasants Est: $10,000-15,000 Final
Maybe a thoughtful buyer had me in mind when bidding. I'll be keeping an eye out for the Fed-Ex truck in the meanwhile.
I want to thank Sven Becker for letting me take my time with the books.