Robert Frank’s “Trolley-New Orleans”, Sets a New World Auction Record for the Artist

Robert Frank’s “Trolley—New Orleans”, a jewel-like multi-portrait photograph showing a row of passengers segregated by color, age and sex in a trolley car on Bourbon Street, took the number one spot at “The Important Photographs from a Private American Collection” sale at Christie’s Rockefeller Plaza on Wednesday evening the 17th of October.  Taken in 1955, the same year Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man at the front of the bus in Montgomery, Alabama, the straight-ahead gaze of Frank’s camera captures the flip side of the American dream in the 1950s South.  Transcending the distinction between media image and aesthetic object – between art and photojournalism – to make from a single pregnant moment a complete and enduring image – Frank’s superbly layered photograph is a stand-in for what many believe to be his life’s crowning achievement.

Scooped up for $623,400 by Peter MacGill, the artist’s New York dealer (ghosting for a client on his cell) one would be hard pressed to acquire a more succinct representation of the big issues of fear, alienation and isolation facing Americans at the height of the cold war.  The widespread belief that American Communists were conducting atomic espionage for the Soviet Union fueled paranoia and broadened the gap between the rich and the poor, blacks and whites, and leaders and followers.  This on top of a race to see who could launch the world’s first satellite into space all served as a concrete reminder of one of the most disquieting periods in American history.  “Trolley—New Orleans” is its portrayal.

Interest in the modest-in-size 8 by 10 inch double weight, semi-gloss vintage photograph was fierce due to both the stature of the image within the oeuvre of the artist and the rarity of prints made in close proximity to its 1955 exposure (see addenda).  Additionally, there is every indication – by the pinholes in the corners, numerical markings on labels, size and apparent age of the photograph – that the gelatin silver print offered here was either the one used in the making of the gravure printing plates for the first French, Italian and American editions of his seminal 83-image book, “The Americans”, or a very rare print used in the final stages of preparation.

 “Trolley—New Orleans”, a photograph that follows in the tradition of Lewis Hine and Jacob Riis, served Frank as an important avenue for expressing himself politically.  The policy of compelling racial groups to live apart from each other – going to separate schools, the use of separate social facilities, etc., was perfectly captured symbolically by Frank’s sharp lens as he walked up to that trolley and pointed his Leica at this perfect site of institutionalized Southern racism.

The photograph is actually composed of five portraits.  Starting from the front of the trolley and reading left to right we have the face of a bespectacled Caucasian man in a suit whose head is hidden behind the light reflected off the glass of his half-pulled-down window giving him the appearance of being actually whiter than white.  The light creates the illusion of a veil or hood over his face increasing his untouchability and anonymity.  The middle-aged Caucasian matron immediately behind him is dressed in a high collared severe black cloth coat with what can only be described as a scowl on her face.  Her expression is illustrative of someone looking at an uninvited outsider (Frank himself) and sending out the unmistakable message of ‘you don’t belong here’ or worse.  The center window and the center of the photograph show a five or six year old Caucasian boy in a suit with white shirt and bowtie and his younger sister (perhaps two) also in her Sunday best looking out at Frank’s camera.  Their expressions are the most hopeful in the photograph filled with an open curiosity – his is much more intense than his younger sister.  But when you look at their hands you can see what’s in their hearts.  The boy’s right hand is wrapped firmly around the white vertical bar separating one compartment from the other but is closest to the disdainful woman’s seat directly in front of him and connecting him to her.  The little girl’s hands are both ‘in the air’.  She has, as yet, not really found her ‘rudder’.  Although her body language faces directly at Frank, her gaze is diverted slightly to something just off to the lensman’s left.  Her mouth is slightly open.  Perhaps she is in the middle of saying Mama.   The fourth window in the trolley always elicits the most commentary from critics and enthusiasts alike.  The African-American male in work shirt is turned directly at Frank’s camera with an expression that can be interpreted as equal parts exhaustion, resignation, loneliness and despair.  There is something incredibly sad about the potential of this proud and glorious face that has been drained of light – it is a face that only Frank could have caught on film and perhaps is the symbolic failed promise of America that people at the time just couldn’t come to terms with.  The final window (they could also be looked at as separate frames on a contact sheet) is a portrait of an African-American woman looking out to camera right – oblivious to Frank’s presence.  Her eyeglasses reflect the light/white from the sky making her eyes impossible to see.  Is this the face of someone who has ceased wrestling with the fractured realities of a life brought up in an environment that says if you’re black and a woman you have no relevance?

Reading the image from left to right we see a hierarchical descent – white man, white woman, white children, black man, black woman – all isolated from one another and all seated as if ranked by birthright.  The trolley is of course a metaphor for the world as Frank saw it on the brink of annihilation.  The passengers on this vehicle are all part of a family that has no relevance except as a collective lie.  Frank’s camera captured the profound tensions he saw in all strata of American society during the outwardly optimistic 1950s and did so with an uncompromising purity that almost masks the bite that his images possess.  Frank’s sad song about America tells us that no matter how different we seem to be from one another we are all on a journey through time together – each of us occupying our own space but sharing a destiny and destination.  If “Trolley—New Orleans” is a portrait of the America that man most wishes to hide, Robert Frank captured it and forever changed that way we feel about ourselves.

commissioned by Marla Hamburg Kennedy from HK Photography and Contemporary Art.

Robert Frank’s The Americans, 1955-1956

(auction prices from spring 2003 through fall 2007 at Sotheby’s, Christie’s & Phillips de Pury & Co.)

[Note: Image and plate numbers correspond to the second SCALO Edition 1994.  Originally published as “Les Americains” by Robert Delpire, Paris, 1958.  First published in the U.S. by Grove Press in New York in 1959].

1) Parade – Hoboken, New Jersey, 1955 [image #1, plate #11 /2 windows, flag, heads hidden]

Oct. 16, 2004 / Sotheby’s / Photographs, N08018 / printed 1966 / 8 x 12 ¼ in. / Lot #156 / est.: $80,000-$120,000 / realized: $198,400.

Apr. 26, 2006 / Phillips de Pury & Co. / Photographs, NY040106 / printed c. 1970 / 8 ½ x 13 in. / Lot #163 / est.: $50,000-$70,000 / realized: $96,000.

Apr. 23, 2007 / Christie’s / Photographs, #1825 / printed 1970s / 9 x 13 ¾ in. / Lot #239 / est.: $50,000-$70,000 / realized: $108,000.

Apr. 24, 2007 / Phillips de Pury & Co. / 27 Exceptional Photographs, NY040007 / printed c. 1970 / 12 ½ x 18 1/8 in. / Lot #17 / est.: $70,000-$90,000 / realized: $138,000.

Oct. 17, 2007 / Phillips de Pury & Co. / Photographs, NY040307 / printed c. 1960 / 6 1/8 x 9 ½ in. / Lot #127 / est.: $70,000-$90,000 / realized: $84,000.

2) City Fathers – Hoboken, New Jersey, 1955 [image #2, plate #13 /kissing politician, top hats]

Oct 17, 2003 / Phillips de Pury & Luxembourg / Photographs, NY040403 / printed later / 9 x 11 ½ in. / Lot #40 / est.: $40,000-$60,000 / realized: $35,000.

Oct. 12, 2005 / Christie’s / Photographs, #1560 / printed c. 1970 / 8 ½ x 12 ¾ in. / Lot #64 / est.: $25,000-$35,000 / realized: $45,600.

April 23, 2007 / Christie’s / Photographs, #1825 / printed c. 1970 / 8 ¾ x 13 1/8 in. / Lot #226 / est.: $25,000-$35,000 / realized: $38,400.

3) Rodeo – Detroit, 1955 [image #5, plate #19 /cowboy with cigar]

Oct. 20, 2003 / Christie’s / Photographs, #1287 / printed later / 9 1/8 x 13 ½ in. / Lot #115 / est.: $8,000-$12,000 / realized: $8,000.

Oct. 17, 2006 / Sotheby’s / Photographs, N08227 / printed later / 8 5/8 x 12 5/8 in. / Lot #206 / est.: $12,000-$18,000 / realized: $18,000.

Apr. 24, 2007 / Christie’s / Photographs, #1825 / printed c. 1980 / 9 ¾ x 14 ¾ in. / Lot #383 / est.: $25,000-$35,000 / realized: bought in.

Oct. 17, 2007 / Phillips de Pury & Co. / Photographs, NY040307 / printed c. 1980 / 9 ¾ x 14 ¾ in. / Lot #111 / est.: $15,000-$20,000 / realized: $18,000.

4) Movie Premiere – Hollywood, 1956 [image #9, plate #27 /anonymous blond in profile with white fur]

Oct. 17, 2007 / Christie’s / Important Photographs from a Private American Collection, #2076 / printed 1970s / 13 x 8 5/8 in. / Lot #10 / est.: $25,000-$35,000 / realized: $49,000.

5) New York City, 1955-1956 [image #12, plate #33 /3 transvestites]

Oct 17, 2007 / Christie’s / Important Photographs from a Private American Collection, #2076 / vintage - with brown stains and tiny black dots in the margins / 11 x 7 ½ in. / Lot #34 / est.: $40,000-$60,000 / realized: bought in (hit $28,000 before being passed).

6) Charleston, South Carolina, 1956 [image #13, plate #34 /black nanny with white baby]

Oct. 18, 2003 / Phillips de Pury & Luxembourg / Photographs, NY040403 / printed later / 8 ½ x 12 ¾ in. / Lot #242 / est.: $30,000-$50,000 / realized: $32,000.

7) Ranch Market – Hollywood, 1955-1956 [image #14, plate #37 /waitress with $0.18 hotdog sign]

April 23, 2007 / Christie’s / Photographs, #1825 / printed 1970s / 8 ¼ x 12 ½ in. / Lot #208 / est.: $20,000-$30,000 / realized: $18,000.

8) Butte, Montana, 1955 [image #15, plate #39 /mom and 2 kids looking out auto window]

Oct. 17, 2007 / Phillips de Pury & Co. / Photographs, NY040307 / printed c. 1960 / 6 3/8 x 9 3/8 in. / Lot #132 / est.: $10,000-$15,000 / realized: $30,000.

9) Yom Kippur – East River, New York City, 1955 [image #16, plate #41 /scull caps, hats on ferry]

Oct. 17, 2007 / Christie’s / Important Photographs from a Private American Collection, #2076 / vintage / 9 x 13 ½ in. / Lot #27 / est.: $30,000-$50,000 / realized: $85,000.

10) Fourth of July – Jay, New York, 1955 [image #17, plate #43 /flag hanging with 2 girls in park]

Oct. 20, 2003 / Christie’s / Photographs, #1287 / printed 1970s / 12 ¼ x 8 in. / Lot #112 / est.: $12,000-$18,000 / realized: $24,000.

Oct. 6, 2005 / Phillips de Pury & Co. / Photographs, NY040205 / printed c. 1970 / 18 ¾ x 12 ¾ in. / Lot #19 / est.: $30,000-$50,000 / realized: $38,400.

Oct.12, 2005 / Christie’s / Photographs, #1560 / printed c. 1970 / 11 7/8 x 8 in. / Lot #140 / est.: $20,000-$30,000 / realized: $50,400.

11) Trolley – New Orleans, 1955 [image #18, plate #45 /racist traditions run deep]

Feb. 15, 2006 / Sotheby’s / Important Photographs From The Metropolitan Museum Of Art, Including Works From The Gilman Paper Company Collection, N08165 / printed c. 1977 / 9 x 13 ¾ in. / Lot #103 / est.: $25,000-$35,000 / realized: $114,000.

Oct. 17, 2006 / Sotheby’s / Photographs, N08227 / printed 1977 / 12 x 19 in. / Lot #205 / est.: $80,000-$120,000 / realized: $204,000.

Oct.15, 2007 / Sotheby’s / Photographs, N08349 / printed c. 1986 / 6 x 9 ¼ in. / Lot #3 / est.: $25,000-$35,000 / realized: $91,000.

Oct.17, 2007 / Christie’s / Important Photographs From A Private American Collector, #2076 / vintage / 6 1/8 x 9 3/8 in. / Lot #16 / est.: $150,000-$250,000 / realized: $623,400.

12) Canal Street – New Orleans, 1955 [image #19, plate #47 /same strip as “Trolley”- New Orleans”, across street]

Oct. 17, 2007 / Christie’s / Important Photographs from a Private American Collector, #2076 / c. 1962 / 9 ½ x 13 ½ in. / Lot #17 / est.: $40,000-$60,000 / realized: $43,000.

13) Rooming House – Bunker Hill, Los Angeles, 1955-1956 [image #20, plate #49 /headless man under wooden stairs]

Apr. 26, 2003 / Phillips de Pury & Luxembourg / The Seagram Collection of Photographs, NY040203 / printed 1973 / 12 ½ x 8 in. / Lot #133 / est.: $5,000-$7,000 / realized: $15,000.

14) Café – Beaufort, South Carolina, 1955 [image #22, plate #53 /juke Box and baby on floor]

Oct. 16, 2004 / Sotheby’s / Photographs, N08018 / printed in 1977 / 11 ½ x 17 ½ in. / Lot #160 / est.: $8,000-$12,000 / realized: $19,200.

Apr. 24, 2006 / Christie’s / Photographs, #1652 / printed before 1962 / 8 x 11 ¾ in. / Lot #6 / est.: $30,000-$50,000 / realized: $60,000.

15) View from Hotel Window – Butte, Montana, 1956 [image #26, plate #61 /through curtains]

Apr. 25, 2003 / Phillips de Pury & Luxembourg / The Seagram Collection of Photographs, NY040203 / printed 1973 / 8 3/8 x 12 9/16 in. / Lot #39 / est.: $5,000-$7.000 / realized: $21,000.

16) Metropolitan Life Insurance Building – New York City, 1955 [image #27, plate #63 /newsstand]

Apr. 26, 2003 / Phillips de Pury & Luxembourg / The Seagram Collection of Photographs, NY040203 / printed 1973 /13 5/16 x 9 1/4 in. / Lot #131 / est.: $5,000-$7,000 / realized: $13,000.

Apr. 24, 2004 / Phillips de Pury & Co. / Photographs, NY040204 / printed later / 12 ¾ x 8 ½ in. / Lot #86 / est.: $9,000-$12,000 / realized: $7,500.

17) Jehovah’s Witness – Los Angeles, 1955-1956 [image #28, plate #65 /man in suit with Awake!]

Apr. 24, 2006 / Christie’s / Photographs, #1652 / near vintage / 12 7/8 x 8 ½ in. / Lot #3 / est.: $20,000-$30,000 / realized: $78,000.

18) U.S. 91, Leaving Blackfoot, Idaho, 1955 [image #32, plate #73 /a.k.a. “Hitchhikers – Going to Butte, Montana”- 2 men looking out front window interior of car]

Oct. 6, 2005 / Phillips de Pury & Co. / Photographs, NY040205 / printed 1970s / 8 x 12 in. / Lot #15 / est.: $9,000-$12,000 / realized: $18,000.

19) Covered Car – Long Beach, California, 1956 [image #34, plate #77 /palm trees, covered car]

Apr. 25, 2003 / Phillips de Pury & Luxembourg / The Seagram Collection of Photographs, NY040203 / printed 1973 / 9 ¼ x 13 9/16 in. / Lot #49 / est.: $5,000-$7,000 / realized: $46,000.

Oct. 20, 2003 / Christie’s / Photographs, #1287 / printed later / 8 ¾ x 13 3/8 in. / Lot #221 / est.: $10,000-$15,000 / realized: $20,000.

Apr. 27, 2004 / Sotheby’s / Important Photographs from a Private Collection, N07986 / printed in the 1950s or 1960s / 6 5/8 x 10 in. / Lot #5 / est.: $15,000-$25,000 / realized: $78,000.

Apr. 26, 2005 / Christie’s / Photographs, #1502 / printed later / 9 ¼ x 14 in. / Lot #47 / est.: $20,000-$30,000 / realized: $24,000.

Feb. 15, 2006 / Sotheby’s / Important Photographs from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Including Works from the Gilman Paper Company Collection, N08165 / printed c. 1977 / 9 ¼ x 14 in. / Lot #100 / est.: $20,000-$30,000 / realized: $60,000.

Oct. 18, 2007 / Christie’s / Photographs, #1893 / printed 1970s / 9 x 13 3/8 in. / Lot #421 / est.: $30,000-$50,000 / realized: $79,000.

20) Car Accident – U.S. 66, between Winslow and Flagstaff, Arizona, 1955-1956 [image #35, plate #79 /covered body - party of 4 look on]

April 28, 2005 / Phillips de Pury & Co. / Photographs, NY040105 / printed c. 1970 / 8 5/8 x 12 ¾ in. / Lot #217 / est.: $9,000-$12,000 / realized: $16,800.

Oct. 17, 2006 / Sotheby’s / Photographs, N08227 / printed c. 1965 / 8 ¼ x 12 ¾ in. / Lot #202 / est.: $12,000-$18,000 / realized: $19,200.

April 25, 2007 / Phillips de Pury & Co. / Photographs, NY040107 / printed c. 1975 / 8 x 12 3/8 in. / Lot #120 / est.: $9,000-$12,000 / realized: $9,000.

21) U.S. 285, New Mexico, 1955 [image #36, plate #81 /highway to infinity – vertical]

Feb. 15, 2006 / Sotheby’s / Important Photographs from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Including Works from the Gilman Paper Company Collection, N08165 / probably printed before 1970 / 11 ½ x 7 5/8 in. / Lot #101 / est.: $25,000-$35,000 / realized: $156,000.

Apr. 25, 2007 / Phillips de Pury & Co. / Photographs, NY040107 / printed c. 1975 / 13 ½ x 9 ¼ in. / Lot #117 / est.: $20,000-$30,000 / realized: $84,000.

Oct. 15, 2007 / Sotheby’s / Photographs, N08349 / printed c. 1986 / 8 ¾ x 6 1/8 in. / Lot #2 / est.: $25,000-$35,000 / realized: $44,200.

22) Bar – Detroit, 1955 [alternate-vertical of horizontal, image #37, plate #83, Washington & Lincoln portraits and flag]

Oct. 18, 2007 / Christie’s / Photographs, #1893 / printed later / 12 ¾ x 8 ½ in. / Lot #228 / est.: $15,000-$25,000 / realized: $32,200.

23) Barber Shop through Screen Door – McClellanville, South Carolina, 1955 [image #38, plate #85]

Apr. 26, 2003 / Phillips de Pury & Luxembourg / The Seagram Collection of Photographs, NY040203 / printed 1973 / 8 5/8 x 13 in. / Lot #132 / est.: $5,000-$7,000 / realized: $26,000.

Feb. 15, 2006 / Sotheby’s / Important Photographs from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Including Works from the Gilman Paper Company Collection, N08165 / printed c. 1977 / 9 ¾ x 14 ½ in. / Lot #102 / est.: $20,000-$30,000 / realized: $120,000.

24) Backyard – Venice West, California, 1955-1956 [image #39, plate #87 /flag, abandoned car, garden growth]

Oct. 20, 2003 / Christie’s / Photographs, #1287 / printed 1977 / 8 1/8 x 12 in. / Lot #220 / est.: $3,000-$5,000 / realized: $3,200.

25) Newburgh, New York, 1955 [image #40, plate #89 /biker looking back over shoulder]

Apr. 24, 2007 / Phillips de Pury & Co. / 27 Exceptional Photographs, NY040007 / printed c. 1970 / oversized 18 ¾ x 12 3/8 in. / Lot #18 / est.: $50,000-$70,000 / realized: $108,000.

Oct. 17, 2007 / Christie’s / Important Photographs from a Private American Collection, #2076 / printed 1970s / 12 ½ x 8 ¼ in. / Lot #35 / est.: $40,000-$60,000 / realized: $91,000.

26) Assembly Line – Detroit, 1955 [image #50, plate #109]

(later selected variant - crisp focus): Apr. 27, 2005 / Sotheby’s / Photographs, N08086 / printed in 1977 / 9 x 13 ¼ in. / Lot #156 / est.: $6,000-$9,000 / realized: $18,000.

(later selected variant - crisp focus): Apr. 25, 2006 / Christie’s / Photographs, #1777 / printed later / 8 5/8 x 13 1/8 in. / Lot #184 / est.: $20,000-$30,000 / realized: $42,000.

(original image - slightly out-of-focus – replaced in 1978): Apr. 24, 2007 / Christie’s / Photographs, #1825 / 9 ½ x 14 in. / Lot #310 / est.: $25,000-$35,000 / realized: $33,600.

27) Salt Lake City, Utah, 1955 [image #54, plate #117 /postings in sign behind glass – steps to house]

April 26, 2003 / Phillips de Pury & Luxembourg / The Seagram Collection of Photographs, NY040203 / printed 1973 / 10 x 6 ½ in. / Lot #130 / est.: $5,000-$7,000 / realized: $5,200.

28) Beaufort, South Carolina, 1955-1956 [image #55, plate #119 /woman in chair in field with cross]

Oct 15, 2004 / Christie’s / Photographs, #1423 / near vintage / 5 3/8 x 8 in. / Lot #166 / est.: $20,000-$30,000 / realized: $47,800.

29) Chinese Cemetery – San Francisco, 1955-1957 [image #57, plate #123 /fallen funereal flowers]

April 26, 2007 / Sotheby’s / Photographs, N08309 / printed no later than 1962 / 11 5/8 x 7 ½ in. / Lot #89 / est.: $10,000-$15,000 / realized: $22,800.

30) Political Rally – Chicago, 1956 [image #58, plate #125 /headless tuba & flag]

Oct. 17, 2003 / Phillips de Pury & Luxembourg / Photographs, NY040403 / printed 1976 / 13 ¼ x 8 11/16 in. / Lot #39 / est.: $40,000-$60,000 / realized: $42,000.

Apr. 27, 2004 / Sotheby’s / Important Photographs from a Private Collection, N07986 / printed prior to 1962 / 15 5/8 x 10 ¼ in. / Lot #7 / est.: $20,000-$30,000 / realized: $131,200.

Apr. 22, 2006 / Sotheby’s / Photographs, N08189 / printed later / 13 ¼ x 9 in. / Lot #178 / est.: $30,000-$50,000 / realized: $84,000.

Apr. 24, 2007 / Christie’s / Photographs, #1825 / printed 1970s / 11 3/8 x 7 3/8 in. / Lot #384 / est.: $25,000-$35,000 / realized: $72,000.

Oct. 15, 2007 / Sotheby’s / Photographs, N08349 / printed c. 1986 / 8 7/8 x 6 in. / Lot #1 / est.: $25,000-$35,000 / realized: $38,200.

Oct. 17, 2007 / Christie’s / Important Photographs from a Private American Collection, #2076 / printed c. 1970 / 11 3/8 x 7 3/8 in. / Lot #1 / est.: $50,000-$70,000 / realized: $91,000.

31) Television Studio – Burbank, California (a.k.a CBS Studio), 1956 [image #60, plate #129 /girl on set in chair & on monitor]

Oct. 17, 2006 / Sotheby’s / Photographs, N08227 / probably printed in the 1970s / 8 x 12 in. / Lot #204 / est.: $15,000-$20,000 / realized: $28,800.

32) Los Angeles, 1955 [image #61, plate #131 /neon arrow and alley, lone figure walking]

Apr. 26, 2003 / Phillips de Pury & Luxembourg / The Seagram Collection of Photographs, NY040203 / printed 1973 / 13 7/16 x 9 in./ Lot #129 / est.: $5,000-$7,000 / realized: $28,000.

Oct. 17, 2006 / Sotheby’s / Photographs, N08227 / printed later / 13 ¼ x 8 1/8 in. / Lot #207 / est.: $60,000-$80,000 / realized: bought in (hit $48,000 before being passed).

33) Movie Premiere – Hollywood, 1956 [image #66, plate #141 /Kim Novak out-of-focus]

Oct. 17, 2007 / Christie’s / Important Photographs from a Private American Collector, #2076 / printed 1970s / 12 3/8 x 8 3/8 in. / Lot #11 / est.: $25.000-$35,000 / realized: $37,000.

34) Charity Ball – New York City, 1955-1956 [image #67, plate #143 /rich matron kissed on cheek]

Oct. 18, 2006 / Christie’s / Photographs, #1713 / printed 1970s / 12 ¾ x 8 ¼ in. / Lot #222 / est.: $20,000-$30,000 / realized: $36,000.

Oct. 17, 2007 / Christie’s / Important Photographs from a Private American Collection, #2076 / vintage / 12 1/8 x 8 in. / Lot #4 / est.: $40,000-$60,000 / realized: $73,000.

35) Cafeteria – San Francisco, 1956 [image #68, plate #145 /lone man eating at table]

Apr. 25, 2007 / Phillips de Pury & Co. / Photographs, NY040107 / printed 1960s / 13 ¼ x 8 7/8 in. / Lot #204 / est.: $10,000-$15,000 / realized: $13,200.

Oct. 18, 2007 / Christie’s / Photographs, #1893 / printed 1970s / 12 3/8 x 8 3/8 in. / Lot #245 / est.: $20,000-$30,000 / realized: bought in.

36) Coffee Shop, Railway Station – Indianapolis, 1955 [image #70, plate #149 /lone waitress behind counter with stainless steel & fan]

April 26, 2003 / Phillips de Pury & Luxembourg / The Seagram Collection of Photographs, NY040203 / printed 1973 / 7 x 10 ½ in. / Lot #134 / est.: $5,000-$7,000 / realized: $20,000.

37) Chattanooga, Tennessee, 1955 [image #71, plate #151 /early telephoto shot of couple with curls on street]

Oct. 18, 2006 / Christie’s / Photographs, #1713 / printed c. 1960 / 8 7/8 x 13 ¼ in. / Lot #157 / est.: $40,000-$60,000 / realized: bought in.

38) Belle Isle – Detroit, 1955 [image #73, plate #155 /bespectacled pregnant woman with crossed arms & tree near water]

Oct 20, 2003 / Christie’s / Photographs, #1287 / printed 1970s / 6 ¼ x 9 ½ in. / Lot #225 / est.: $5,000-$7,000 / realized: $8,500.  

Oct. 18, 2006 / Christie’s / Photographs, #1713 / late 1970s / 9 ¼ x 13 ½ in. / Lot #63 / est.: $30,000-$50,000 / realized: $28,800.

Oct. 19, 2006 / Phillips de Pury & Co. / Photographs, NY040206 / printed 1970s / 8 ¾ x 13 in. / Lot #150 / est.: $25,000-$35,000 / realized: bought in.

39) Courthouse Square – Elizabethville, North Carolina, 1956 [image #75, plate #159 /2 men sitting at base of tree-one wearing loud fern shirt]

Oct. 19, 2006 / Phillips de Pury & Co. / Photographs, NY040206 / printed 1960s / 11 5/8 x 7 ¾ in. / Lot #147 / est.: $12,000-$18,000 / realized: $14,400.

40) Detroit, 1955 [image #78, plate #165 /elderly couple framed in driver’s window of white car]

Oct. 18, 2003 / Phillips de Pury & Luxembourg / Photographs, NY040403 / printed 1977 / 9 x 13 ½ in. / Lot #241 / est.: $15,000-$20,000 / realized: bought in.

41) Chicago, 1956 [image #79, plate #167 /Christ died for our sins sticker on rear windshield of Chevy]

Oct. 12, 2005 / Christie’s / Photographs, #1560 / vintage, or near vintage as logo stamp ‘Agfa-Brovira’ on paper was manufactured prior to 1955 / 13 ½ x 9 3/8 in. / Lot #134 / est.: $18,000-$25,000 / realized: $57,600.

Feb. 15, 2006 / Sotheby’s / Important Photographs from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Including Works from the Gilman Paper Company Collection, N08165 / printed c. 1977 / 14 ¼ x 9 7/8 in. / Lot #106 / est.: $10,000-$15,000 / realized: $60,000.

Feb. 14, 2007 / Christie’s / Photographs from the Estate of Thomas T. Solley, #1867 / printed late 1960s / 13 ¾ x 8 ½ in. / Lot #149 / est.: $30,000-$50,000 / price realized: $48,000.

42) City Hall – Reno, Nevada, 1956 [image #81, plate #171 /newly wed couple embracing as if dancing]

Apr. 24, 2007 / Christie’s / Photographs, #1825 / printed c. 1962 / 8 7/8 x 13 ¼ in. / lot #473 / est. $25,000-$35,000 / price realized: $66,000.

Oct. 17, 2007 / Christie’s / Important Photographs from a Private American Collection, #2076 / printed 1970s / 9 x 13 ¼ in. / Lot #36 / est.: $30,000-$50,000 / realized: $58,600.

43) Indianapolis, 1956 [image #82, plate #173 /man and woman on motorcycle]

Apr. 27, 2004 / Sotheby’s / Important Photographs from a Private Collection, N07986 / printed 1960s / 8 ½ x 12 3/8 in. / lot #10 / est.: $15,000-$25,000 / realized: $33,600.

Feb. 15, 2006 / Sotheby’s / Important Photographs from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Including Works from the Gilman Paper Company Collection, N08165 / printed c. 1977 / 9 ¼ x 13 5/8 in. / Lot #104 / est.: $10,000-$15,000 / realized: $102,000.

Oct. 17, 2006 / Sotheby’s / Photographs, #8227 / printed later / 8 5/8 x 12 ¾ in. / Lot #203 / est.: $60,000-$80,000 / $60,000.

Oct. 17, 2007 / Christie’s / Important Photographs from a Private American Collection, #2076 / printed 1970s / 8 5/8 x 12 7/8 in. / Lot #37 / est.: $40,000-$60,000 / $46,600.

44) U.S. 90, En Route to Del Rio, Texas, 1955-1956 [image #83, plate #175 /last image of book, Mary & Pablo shot through front windshield]

Apr. 27, 2007 / Phillips de Pury & Co. / Photographs, NY040105 / printed c. 1970 / 13 ½ x 9 ¼ in. / Lot #33 / est.: $25,000-$35,000 / $102,000.

Apr. 24, 2007 / Phillips de Pury & Co. / 27 Exceptional Photographs, NY040007 / printed c. 1960 / 18 ½ x 12 1/8 in. / Lot #16 / est.: $300,000-$400,000 / realized: $516,000.

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Re-Cap

Since the spring of 2003, 44 of the total 83 images from The Americans have come to market.

A total of 90 prints of those 44 images were offered.

7 prints failed to sell / 83 images sold

The lowest price paid for a print was Backyard – Venice West, California, 1955-1956 (printed 1977).  It sold Oct. 20, 2003 at Christie’s, “Photographs”, #1287, Lot #220 (pre-sale est.: $3,000-$5,000) for $3,200.

The highest price paid for a print was Trolley – New Orleans, 1955 (vintage).  It sold Oct. 17, 2007 at Christie’s, “Important Photographs From A Private American Collector”, #2076, Lot #16 (pre-sale est.: $150,000-$250,000) for $623,400.

Gross value of all prints sold (including buyer’s premium) $5,503,800.

Per lot average (including buyer’s premium) $66,310.84.

13 prints sold for six figures.

1)                   $623,400 / Oct. 17, ’07 / Trolley-New Orleans

2)                   $516,000 / Apr. 24, ’07 / U.S. 90 En Route

3)                   $204,000 / Oct. 17, ’06 / Trolley-New Orleans

4)                   $198,400 / Oct. 16, ’04 / Parade-Hoboken, N.J.

5)                   $156,000 / Feb. 15, ’06 / U.S. 285 New Mexico

6)                   $138,000 / Apr. 24, ’07 / Parade-Hoboken, N.J.

7)                   $131,200 / Apr. 27. ’04 / Political Rally-Chicago

8)                   $120,000 / Feb. 15, ’06 / Barber Shop-McClellanville

9)                   $114,000 / Feb. 15, ’06 / Trolley-New Orleans

10)                $108,000 / Apr. 23, ’07 / Parade-Hoboken, N.J.

11)                $108,000 / Apr. 24, ’07 / Newburgh, N.J.

12)                $102,000 / Feb. 15, ’06 / Indianapolis

13)                $102,000 / Apr. 27, ’07 / U.S. 90 En Route

 



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