There may not exactly have been an abundance of spectacular material at the autumn photography auctions in New York, but the sales did reasonably well, including the dispersal of the collection of Washington DC-based collector Joshua P. Smith at Phillips de Pury & Luxembourg, the third place auction house that has retained its photography department and is trying to make it, like contemporary art, a mainstay of the firm. The photography market has been going strong in the past few years, attracting traditional photo collectors as well as “crossover” buyers, however it suffered the inevitable dip in the past year that the fine art market in general has seen, and these October sales may mark the return of steady growth in the field. Buy-in rates were down from the spring. Sotheby’s sale on 17 October racked up $3.3 million (£1.9 million) and was 78% sold by lot. Phillips’ Joshua P. Smith sale made $1.4 million and was 100% sold (there were no reserves, which accounts for this percentage). The following general photo sales at Phillips, on 17 and 18 October, totalled $3.1 million, with 65% of lots sold. On 20 October, Christie’s sale made $2.8 million (£1.6 million) and was 76% sold by lot. Some auction records were attained, including one for William Eggleston’s “Memphis Tricycle”, at Phillips, which went for $207,500.
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Eggleston peddles to a new record'