Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sotheby's Rare Polaroid Collection Auction Comes to a Close


After two days of auctioning over 1,200 photographs, the Polaroid Collection raised approximately $12.5 million, which was above the $7.2 to $11.1 million they had expected for this auction. The top 3 highest grossing prints from this auction were photographs by Ansel Adams: (1) Clearing Winter Storm, Yosemite National Park - $722,500, (2) Moonrise Hernandez, New Mexico - $518,500, and (3) Aspens, Northern New Mexico - $494,500 (see photos below). If you didn't have a few hundred thousand dollars to spend, some of the prints sold for a few thousand or less. The least expensive print sold was a polaroid by Pirkle Jones for $750 (see photo below).

Photo above is by Robert Rauschenberg, more details can be found below.


ANSEL ADAMS (HIGHEST PRINT SOLD IN THIS AUCTION)
1902-1984

300,000—500,000 USD
Lot Sold. Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium: 722,500 USD

38¾ by 52 in. (98.4 by 132.1 cm.)

mural-sized, flush-mounted, framed, 1938, probably printed in the 1950s or 1960s



ANSEL ADAMS (SECOND HIGHEST PRINT SOLD IN THIS AUCTION)
1902-1984

300,000—500,000 USD
Lot Sold. Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium: 518,500 USD

39¼ by 56 in. (99.7 by 142.2 cm.)

mural-sized, flush-mounted, framed, 1941, probably printed in the 1950s or 1960s


ANSEL ADAMS (THIRD HIGHEST PRINT SOLD IN THIS AUCTION)

1902-1984

ASPENS, NORTHERN NEW MEXICO

150,000—250,000 USD
Lot Sold. Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium: 494,500 USD

30½ by 38 7/8 in. (77.5 by 98.7 cm.)

mural-sized, flush-mounted, framed, 1958, probably printed in the 1960s



PIRKLE JONES
1914-2009

500—1,000 USD
Lot Sold. Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium: 750 USD

each 4½ by 3½ in. (11.4 by 8.9 cm.)

2 unique Polaroid Type 52 prints, including William Westerfeld House, San Francisco and High-Rise Building, each with credit or the photographer's initials, date, and notations in pencil or ink, and number stamps, on the reverse, 1958

side note: Pirkle Jones was Ansel Adams assistant for six years! You'll also see that he also had some of Ansel's work, which was auctioned by Sotheby's in October 2006 (see below)

No matter how much money you had to spend, dealers of this art had to be careful of which prints they bought. In this auction, there were several similar photos produced by Ansel Adams that differed ever so slightly (warmer tones, tiny holes, quality of preservation, size). So, if you were not careful, you may have bought a less desirable print. A few of the same scenic prints included, Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico (see below), The Tetons and Snake River, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming (see below), and Sierra Nevada from Lone Pine, California, to name a few.

ANSEL ADAMS
1902-1984
30,000—50,000 USD
Lot Sold. Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium: 104,500 USD

15½ by 19½ in. (39.4 by 49.5 cm.)

mounted, signed in pencil on the mount, a Carmel studio stamp (BMFA 11), title and annotation in ink, on the reverse, 1941, probably printed between 1973 and 1977 (400 Photographs, p. 175; Classic Images, pl. 32; Ansel Adams at 100, pl. 96; Morgan & Morgan, pl. 63; Examples, p. 40)

Though not entirely comparable, the same photograph and similar size to the $104,500 print was sold in October 2006
for a much higher price of $609,600
.

October 2006 auction
PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF PIRKLE JONES
ANSEL ADAMS 1902-1984

'MOONRISE, HERNANDEZ, NEW MEXICO'

150,000—250,000 USD
Lot Sold. Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium: 609,600 USD

14 3/8 by 19 1/8 in. (36.5 by 48.6 cm.)

mounted to Strathmore board, signed by the photographer in pencil on the mount, matted, 1941, printed in 1948


ANSEL ADAMS
1902-1984
250,000—350,000 USD
Lot Sold. Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium: 350,500 USD

39 by 50 7/8 in. (99.1 by 129.2 cm.)

mural-sized, flush-mounted, framed, 1942, probably printed in the 1950s or 1960

ANSEL ADAMS
1902-1984

200,000—300,000 USD
Lot Sold. Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium: 326,500 USD

39½ by 51½ in. (100.3 by 130.8 cm.)

mural-sized, flush-mounted, framed, 'Property of Polaroid Corporate Archives' stamp on the reverse, 1942, probably printed in the 1950s or 1960s

For a list of other prints sold by Sotheby's, see the Sold Lot Archive for the Polaroid Collection.

side comment: Now the question is, when will the public ever see these prints again? I have no idea, but seeing them firsthand at Sotheby's was truly a rare experience... I hope some of these prints will resurface in museums or galleries. Until next time...

--------------------------------------------------------------

ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG
1925-2008

20,000—30,000 USD
Lot Sold. Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium: 116,500 USD

21½ by 26 in. (53.9 by 66 cm.)

unique bleached Polaroid Polapan print, mounted to aluminum, signed and dated in silver ink on the mount, in a frame designed to the artist's specifications, a Selections 6 exhibition label on the reverse, 1991



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