Photographs of Lena Horne and the “Atlantic City” 1930 and “By the Pool” c. 1924 photographs by James Van der Zee sold at Horne’s estate sale conducted at Doyle New York, February 23, 2011. The Richard Avedon contact sheets of Horne sold for $ 8,750; the Chuck Stewart for $ 750; the Carl Van Vechten portrait of Horne sold for $ 3,438; and the Van der Zee for $ 9,375 and $ 3,438.
The Avedon, Stewart, Van Vechten, and Van der Zee photographs are all silver gelatin prints. A color photograph of Horne by Wendy Hilty, Lena Horne, ca. 1958, sold for $ 1,088, and a set of three black & white and color photographs by Carol Friedman sold for $500. Two groups of publicity photographs sold for $ 3,750 and $ 625 respectively.
Low estimates for all the photographs began at $50, and high estimates ended at $300.
Each sales price includes the 25% buyer’s premium.
There are some noteworthy examples of photographs that feature Black subjects in the Monday, March 30th and Tuesday, March 31st sales of Photographs at Sotheby’s and Christie’s auction house in New York.
At Sotheby’s Robert Mapplethorpe’s “Selected Images of Ajitto” feature two silver gelatin prints available for an auction estimate of $15,000 – $25,000. The property is from the art collection of the Bank of America. At Christie’s “Ajitto” 1981 offers four silver gelatin prints estimated for sale at $ 120,000 – $ 180,000.
Sothbey’s also offers James Van Der Zee’s work in a portfolio of eighteen photographs focusing on various themes such as family, religion, education, and leisure time. The photographs are dated 1905-1938 and were printed in 1974 by Graphics International, Ltd. based in Washington, D.C. The portfolio is estimated to sell at $ 15,000 to $ 25,000.
At Christie’s, a Bruce Davidson (b. 1933) gelatin silver print of a young woman and child sitting on a bed, naked, from his “East 100th Street, New York, 1966-1968” book is estimated to sell at $ 7,000 – $ 9,000. It will be interesting to see whether Davidson’s work fetches within the estimate or exceeds it. “East 100th Street, New York” is a riveting portrayal of the black and latino community living in what is also known as “Spanish Harlem” or El Barrio.