Intrepid arts reporter and frequent American Photo contributor Stephen Perloff has raised some extremely interesting questions about work auctioned off at Sotheby's in New York last spring. In his newsletter, "The Photograph Collector," Perloff focuses on the extraordinary Quillan Collection and its curator, Jill Quasha.
The collection, which Perloff rightly calls "legendary," was comprised of 69 rare and valuable prints. The sales total for all the lots at auction was $8,901.350. As we posted during the spring auctions, one of the Quillan lots up for sale was a photogram of a leaf originally credited to photo pioneer William Henry Fox Talbot (above). Prior to the auction, the lot was withdrawn from the sale amid speculation that the photogram might actually have been made by someone else much earlier in the 19th century.
As interesting as that story is, however, Perloff's new investigation is even juicier. Like many other collectors, he wonders what the Quillan Company actually is. Who had funded the acquisition of the collection in the first place? And how did Alan Quasha, Jill's brother and "the controversial financier who bailed out George W. Bush's failing oil company in 1986," figure into the picture?