The Fall 2007 photography auctions are underway in New York, and so far the results look big. Sotheby's led off yesterday and today with its general sale, and Edward Weston again made waves. A 1927 print of his image "Nautilus" (above) went for $1,105,000, the first time a Weston image has broken the million-dollar barrier. The estimate for the print was $600,000 to $900,000.
Other artists, including Paul Strand, Dorothea Lange, and Lewis Hine, all showed strong results. (Go here for the official tally.) For me, one big surprise came not from a dead 20th -century photographer, but a live one: Peter Beard's "Hog Ranch Front Lawn, Night Feeder (2:00AM) With Maureen Gallagher & Mbuno, Feb. 1987" (below) proved to be worth every word of its long title, selling for $277,000, easily topping its high estimate of $150,000. For years Beard's work was way under-priced. Not anymore.
The total for the Sotheby's sale was $7,771,400. The auctions this fall are the first to be held since the sub-prime mortgage meltdown kicked the legs out from under the economy. All of us observers (which means those of us too poor to bid) are waiting to see if that dampens the enthusiasm of collectors—especially the new ones who have come into the market with hedge-fund bonuses to spend.