NEW YORK.- This evening at Sothebys, before a packed salesroom, the sale of The Quillan Collection of Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Photographs, a connoisseurs collection of 68 rare and unique images ranging in date from 1847 to 1985, sold for $8,901,350 far exceeding the high estimate (est. $4.6/7 million) and setting records for nineteen artists. The collection, a choice selection of some of the most sophisticated works ever brought together in one collection, all in superb condition, was assembled by Jill Quasha, a private photography dealer who specializes in building both public and private collections, on behalf of the Quillan Company, an investment group. Ninety-two percent of the lots sold tonight achieved prices at or above their pre-sale estimates. Sothebys Photograph sales will continue on April 8th, with Edward Westons Gifts to His Sister, and a various-owners Photographs sale.
Highlighting the sale was Edward Westons Nude, from 1925, which was the object of a heated battle between two bidders, finally selling, to applause, to Peter MacGill of the Pace-MacGill Gallery for $1,609,000, far above its high estimate and setting a new record for the artist at auction (est. $600/900). Mr. MacGill also was the successful bidder for Paul Strands Rebecca, from 1923, which went for $645,800 (est. $600/900,000), setting a record for Strand at auction. Also among the tops lots this evening was August Sanders Werkstudenten, from 1926, which zoomed past its high estimate of $250,000 to achieve $493,000, again, a record for Sander at auction.
Records were also set for Richard Avedon, whose now-iconic portrait Marilyn Monroe, May 6, 1957, New York City achieved $380,000 (est. $70/100,000); Hans Bellmer, whose La Poupée (The Doll) went for $325,000 (est. $200/300,000); László Moholy-Nagy, whose Photogram, from the 1920s was the first photograph to enter The Quillan Collection, brought $301,000 (est. $150/250,000); and Bill Brandt, whose Van Goghs Room in the Asylum of St. Paul-de-Mausole, 1950, sold for $265,000 (est. $50/70,000). New benchmarks were also established at auction for Christian Schad, Edward S. Curtis, Henry Peach Robinson, Adam Clark Vroman, Louis de Clerq, Charles Marville, Francis Bruguiére, Francis Frith, and William Henry Jackson.
Denise Bethel, Senior Vice President and Director of Sothebys Photographs department said, The extraordinary success of this sale is a true vindication of Jill Quashas vision and her exacting standards. Not afraid to strike out on her own, in sometimes uncharted aesthetic territory, Jill put together 20 years ago a collection that is only more magnificent now. The exceptional prices achieved are a reflection of her superb taste and her belief in the medium of photography.
In other highlights from the sale, Cindy Shermans Untitled Film Still #53 more than tripled its high estimate, demanding $313,000 (est. $60/90,000), and Dorothea Langes San Francisco Waterfront (est. $50/70,000), sold for $289,000. Robert Franks Mississippi River achieved $205,000, nearly triple its high estimate of $70,000.
Prior to the sale, the collection had been held by the owners for nearly twenty years. A book, The Quillan Collection of Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Photographs, was published in 1991.