Sotheby's Smashes World Record for a Photography Auction

  • NEW YORK, New York
  • /
  • December 17, 2014

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Alfred Stieglitz, Evening, New York from the Shelton, est. $200/300,000, sold for $929,000

On December 11 and 12, 2014, the single-owner sale 175 Masterworks To Celebrate 175
Years of Photography: Property from Joy of Giving Something Foundation at Sotheby’s
New York brought the outstanding total of $21,325,063, comfortably exceeding the pre-sale
estimate of $13/20 million, with 90% of lots sold. World auction records were set for Alvin
Langdon Coburn, August Sander, Tina Modotti, Julia Margaret Cameron, Lee Miller, Walker
Evans, Martin Munkácsi, and others. The total exceeds the previous record for a
Photographs auction by over $6 million.

Denise Bethel, Chairman, Sotheby’s Photographs, Americas, commented: “This record-breaking sale has been a celebration of photography – the most profound, inventive, and
beautiful artistic medium of our time. The masterpieces in the auction spanned the mid nineteenth century to the present day and featured the extraordinary talents that have
always characterized the very best photographers. It is therefore entirely fitting that the
proceeds will be used for the innovative educational work of Joy of Giving Something
Foundation. Throughout my 25 years at Sotheby’s, we have handled the most significant
single-owner sales of Photographs to come to auction, whether from museums, corporations, or private collectors. The collection put together by Howard Stein was unprecedented in its scale, scope, and ambition, and now 175 Masterworks To Celebrate 175 Years of Photography: Property from Joy of Giving Something Foundation takes its place at the pinnacle of Photographs sales.”

Christopher Mahoney, Head of Sotheby’s Photographs Department, said: “The extraordinary prices for so many diverse works and a total of $21.3 million in the 175 Masterworks To Celebrate 175 Years of Photography: Property from Joy of Giving Something Foundation are resounding signs that the market for classic photographs has never been stronger. With eight prices over $500,000 and numerous records set, the auction demonstrated the enormous appetite among a broad base of collectors for top-tier photographs from the 19th and early-20th centuries. Both of our top lots--Alvin Langdon Coburn’s Shadows and Reflections, Venice, from 1905, and the 1931 Evening, New York From The Shelton, by Alfred Stieglitz--were sought by numerous collectors before two determined bidders drove prices to multiples of the high estimates. Both pieces are now among the most expensive photographs ever sold at auction, along with other works in the sale by artists such as Moholy-Nagy, Gustave Le Gray, and August Sander.”

Tags: photography

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