As of this morning we are halfway through the Fall photography auction season, and it looks like the shaky economy is taking its toll. Sales of Ansel Adams photographs have held up relative to many other photographers, but the results are definitely not as strong as we have seen over the last few years.
At Christie's, on Tuesday, there was the added factor of some unusually high estimates. Portfolios 3 and 4 had low estimates of $100,000 and $90,000 respectively, which when you consider the buyer premium suggested minimum values of $125,000 and $112,500. In a strong economy, we might expect these prices, but high values of $187,500 and $150,000 simply aren't likely. Not surprising, these lots, and many others, did not sell. Christie's did have a very good selection of Adams photographs, and some people were able to make excellent purchases.
Sotheby's, on-going at the time of this writing, realized $362,500 for a beautiful vintage photograph of Moonrise, Hernandez. Estimated to hammer between $200,000 and $300,000, there obviously is still a solid market for
the very rare prints of icon images. Other Ansel Adams prints in the Sotheby's evening auction achieved middling to strong results - $31,000 for a very good print of O'Keeffe and Cox, and $74,500 for a darker print of
Tetons, Snake River in excellent condition.
The volume of interest is low, not surprising given that most people have concerns about the economy and what is coming. Hopefully the sense of crisis will soon pass, and people will adjust to a weak but stable economy. For those who can afford it, now may be the best time to buy in a number of years.