On Monday 21 June, Sotheby's presented in New York 100 lots of rare instant and traditional prints shot by photographers such as Ansel Adams, Chuck Close, William Wegman, Robert Frank, Robert Mapplethorpe, Guy Bourdin, David Levinthal, Larry Sultan and Andy Warhol among many others.
The session, the first of four planned by the auction house, totaled $7,197,439, exceeding by a wide margin all expectations. In a statement, earlier thsi year, Sotheby's expected the 485 lots offered to fetch between $7.5m and $11.5m, with some images selling for at least $400,000. With only 100 lots sold so far, Sotheby's is already within reach of its target.
In fact, a traditional non-instant print by Ansel Adam shot in 1938 sold for $722,500, while it was expected to fetch no more than $500,000. The famous Peapickers Family image taken by Dorthea Lange fetched $218,500 instead of the $50,000 planned, while Chuck Close's nine-part self portraait shot using Polaroid's instant film was sold, despite the artist's objections to the auction, for $290,500, well above its $70,000 value.
However, Close, and other artists represented in the auction, will receive no revenues from the high-profile auction. Sotheby's, which is acting under a court order, is selling 1260 of the 16,000 images that comprised the Polaroid Collection, with all revenues - minus a 10% commission - going to creditors of the bankrupt Polaroid firm.
The instant film corporation was forced to file for bankruptcy after Tom Petters and four others were charged with involvement in an investment fraud scheme run primarily through Petters Co. Inc, Polaroid's parent company at the time. In April, a Minnesota court sentenced Petters to 50 years in prison, with possibility of parole in 41 years. "This was a massive fraud and the defendant's involvement was front and center," said the judge.
Petters bought Polaroid in 2005 from One Equity Partners, which had acquired the instant film company in August 2002, saving it from bankruptcy. Today, Polaroid is owned by the PBE Corporation.
For more information about yesterday's auction, visit sothebys.com.
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