Auction Update Review


A Good Week

For the week ending November 17, 2012, 20 auctions were archived to the AE Database. Nine were in U.S. dollars, 5 in British pounds, and 6 in euros. All but one took place between November 11-16. Sales were strong, with a 78% sell-through rate. Typically, that number is in the low 70s. If threats of America slipping off the fiscal cliff, Europe rolling back into recession, and wider war breaking out in the Middle East were making buyers nervous, they didn't display such fears in the auction rooms. Hopefully, this poll of buyers of works on paper signals these fears are overblown.

In total, 4,147 lots were offered, 3,235 hammered down to new owners. Total sales were $38,458,000, just under 78% of the total high estimates of all lots offered. This, too, is a good number. There is a caveat here - $27 million of these sales were attributable to Christie's sale of Andy Warhol prints. Warhol remains an icon of the generation now in its prime buying years, and everything his brush touched has turned to gold. It will take a few more generations to determine whether history concludes his contributions to the arts were as important as those of Shakespeare to literature, or of Nico to the Velvet Underground. However, once the large Warhol sale is removed, we find sales percentages of the remaining more traditional items virtually the same. It was still a good week.

Four sales reached the million dollar mark:

Christie's. Andy Warhol Benefit: $27,040,092.

Christie's. Photographs: $3,829,677.

Sotheby's. Travel, Atlases, Maps and Natural History: $3,537,094.

Bonham's. Books, Maps and Manuscripts: $1,224,944.

Two sales achieved currency volumes of over 100% of their total of high estimates:

Bruun Rasmussen. Books: 131%.

Bonham's. Books, Maps and Manuscripts: 114%.

Eight auctions sold more than 80% of their lots:

Freeman's. Historic Muhlenberg Property from a Private Collection: 100%

National Book Auctions. Books and Ephemera: 100%.

Neret – Minet & Tessier. Comic Strips: 93%.

Christie's. Andy Warhol Benefit: 92%.

Freeman's. Pennsylvania Sale: 90%.

Bruun Rasmussen. Books: 88%.

Heritage Auctions (online). Rare Books: 83%.

Skinner's. Fine Books and Manuscripts: 80%.

Despite the Thanksgiving holiday in America, the coming week will still be active, with 15 sales scheduled:

Mon. Nov. 19:

Alde: Modern Illustrated Books, Children's Books.

Ketterer Kunst / F. Doerling: Rare Books

Sotheby's: Books and Manuscripts.

Tues. Nov. 20:

Ketterer Kunst / F. Doerling: Rare Books.

Swann Galleries: 19th and 20th Century Literature.

Wed. Nov. 21:

Christie's: Valuable Books and Manuscripts.

Pierre Berge and Associates: Books.

Thurs. Nov. 22:

Heritage Auctions (online): Rare Books.

Fri. Nov. 23:

Ader: Books for Children.

Artcurial Briest: Comic Strips.

Bloomsbury Auctions: Photographs.

Cornette de Saint Cyr: Photographs.

Ketterer Kunst / F. Doerling: Old Master Prints.

Keys Fine Arts: East Anglia.

Sat. Nov. 24:

Artcurial Briest: Comics.

Lots for each of these auctions are now available on the AE website, so you can go to now and go to the auction calendar to see all lots available at each auction, or use the search box at the top of the page to search for items in topics of interest at all 15 of these auctions, and others in the weeks ahead.

Mike Stillman


November 18, 2012

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 13:</b> <i>Manhattan Gay Scene Guide 1969, Summer Edition,</i> Mattachine Book Service. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 13:</b> Harvey Milk, 2 autograph letters signed, to Pat Mormon, during US Navy service, 1954. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 13:</b> Oscar Wilde, <i>“The secret of life is in Art,”</i> autograph quotation dated and signed, 1882. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 13:</b> Daniel Abraham, original art for <i>Stonewall Romances,</i> pen, ink & gouache, 1979. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 13:</b> Antonio Lopez, 9 men’s fashion studies, graphite, 1974. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 13:</b> Susie Gaynes & Amy E. Bartell, <i>March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights,</i> 1987. $600 to $900.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 13:</b> <i>Paris is Burning,</i> photo offset poster by Anne Dutlinger, signed by film director Jennie Livingston, 1991. $400 to $600.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 13:</b> Toyen, pen & ink illustration from <i>Marquis de Sade: Justina cili prokletí ctnosti,</i> 1932. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 13:</b> David Wojnarowicz, <i>Untitled (Genet with Dog),</i> mixed media collage. $8,000 to $12,000.