I came to New York this week specifically to see the masterworks in the private collection of Margaret W. Weston which are being offered for sale at Sotheby’s on Wednesday and Thursday. If you are in the NYC area I urge you to visit the public exhibition of prints being offered for sale. The beauty of many of the items on view took my breath away! The catalogue has a wonderful essay by noted collector Leonard Vernon memorializing the professional and personal relationship he and his late wife Marjorie had with Maggi as the consumate guide to help shape their own growing collection. You can read the essay by clicking here.
The Sotheby’s website features a wonderful video of Denise B. Bethel, Director of Sotheby’s Photographs Department speaking about the collection. Her catalogue Introduction is viewable here.
I hope that all photographers will read and appreciate the care with which the catalogue entries were researched and presented, underscoring the need for precise records of the making, exhibiting, publication and sale of their works.
At a time when collecting fine art photography is gaining the attention of investors in the art market and beyond (see this recent article in Fortune Magazine), it is interesting to reflect on a fact Denise shares in her video interview: There is an early Edward Weston offered for sale that Maggi purchased at Sotheby’s in 1979 for $2,500 in; the estimate range for its sale this week for sale is between $750,00 – $1,000,000.
If you register on the Sotheby’s site you can access the full catalogue on line, see the pricing estimates and auction results following the sale.
There are several more amazing photography auctions this week at Christie’s and at Philips de Pury Company in Chelsea. There are several photography auctions Tuesday and Wednesday; in Tuesday night’s “27 Extraordinaty Photographys” you will note that a early print (made in 1960) of the the image “US 90, en route to Del Rio, Texas” (negative made in 1956) featured in The Americans is offered with an estimate of $300,000 – $400,000. I have not seen it but those who have say it is stunningly beautiful. You can view the prints offered for sale, and their estimates, on both these sites without registering.
It is my hope that the incredible objects offered at auction this week will be acquired by museums, corporations or individuals who will allow them to tour when appropriate, so that we can marvel at their beauty again. My fear, however is that museums can no longer afford the masterworks and that we may not see some of this images again during our lifetime. Be sure to view these sales on line, if not in person.