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April 10, 2006

Opportunity in a sea of Art Auction Mania!

Given how high Modern Art auction prices have been lately, it was a pleasant surprise to attend the Saturday At Phillips with my friends Boozhy, and the Smurf, this weekend and not see everything go way above the pre-sale estimates.  I actually think there were several bargains to be had, and I was very happy to help my friends get some good deals this weekend.

Pot_of_gold So while numerous bidders were falling over themselves to buy the plastic junk furniture your mom threw out 20 years ago Modern Design works up for sale... the Photography lots (about 100 lots, 25% of the auction) all seemed to sell consistently below the estimates

One unusual observation was there were almost NO photography dealers in the room.  Which I think gave the few lucky Photo buyers a good opportunity to purchase some B&W prints at cheap prices.

Actually several lots sold much cheaper than where similar items have recently sold before at auction.

Many were easily 50-60% below where most photo dealers are trying to sell the exact same image. 

Here are just a few examples..

  • a large Berenice Abbott "Lower East Side" sold for $1500
  • Andre Kertesz signed "Bathing" image sold for $2200
  • 2 Bruce Weber's each sold for $1,800
  • Garry Winogrand "Texas State Fair" for $1800
  • a large Tom Baril "Dahlia" sold for $1500
  • several nice Michael Kenna standard editioned prints sold for under $1500 each.

Just one suggestion to the people at Phillips...try to group the lots better by category.  These 7 hour/487 lot marathon auctions are painful to sit through, while I may have found watching those bling bling Tahitian Pearls sale tempting...most collectors really don't want to wait around all day just to bid on a few lots that were spread all over the course of the long day!!


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Friends with Juan now? disgusted......

gotta love pearls, but i'd drop my wallet on the warhol "most wanted" from his world's fair series (http://phillipsdepury.liveauctioneers.com/lot1836385.html) do you know what it sold for ???

The Warhol "Most Wanted" went for $4,500. Which was $500 below, the low end of the presale est. range.

What, no Tress?

I can't believe you sat through a 7 hour auction. That's what the absentee ballot is for, hon. I do find it amazing nobody knows about these auctions, though (or just doesn't care).

And just after comments on MAO about how the art market won't collapse soon. Here he is ballyhooing an auction with things selling under the low! Is this the first sign of weakness?

There were some nice deals even with the 20% premium, a nice Baldesari photograph imo for low. But on the high side the highlight was the Jenny Saville photo going well over the high estimate at $4500! I'm now even thinking of selling mine! But I doubt I can part with it.

But there was at least one photo, (I won't mention names) that sold for less than a third it sold for at Phillips just last year! Bear market coming? Pick your stocks - I mean prints carefully.

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