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New York will see a battle of very different cultures this week. It will be Hockey Town, as the New York Rangers face off against the New Jersey Devils in the NHL playoffs. And it will be Art Town, as the big auction houses hold their spring photography sales, followed on Thursday by the annual AIPAD Photography Show, where the world’s top dealers put on an art fair at the New York Armory. I love hockey, but my job is art, so that’s what we’ll focus here throughout the week.
The auctions got off to a rousing start last night at Sotheby’s, with the sale of the Quillan Collection. The excitement actually started last week, when Denise Bethel, head of the photo department at Sotheby’s in New York, announced that one lot was being withdrawn from the sale until further historical research could be done about the image—research that could prove it to be the oldest photo image ever made.
There was also some nervousness going into the spring sales over whether the lagging economy would put a break on what has been a dynamic art market. The results of the Quillan sale show that great quality—and this material is really some of the highest quality ever offered at auction—still commands high prices.
Edward Weston has been the star of recent auctions, and he came through again on Monday night. His “Nude,” dated 1925 (above), sold for $1,609,000, a new record for the photographer. Another highlight of the auction was Paul Strand’s 1923 image titled “Rebecca,” which sold for $645,800. A more modern piece, Richard Avedon’s “Marilyn Monroe, May 6, 1957, New York City” (below) was estimated at $70,000 to $100,000 but fetched a notable $457,000. All together the sale brought in a very, very healthy $8,901.350.