An 11th-hour agreement has been reached between the seller—PBE Corporation—and some of the photographers whose images are being offered at Sotheby’s four-session auction of works from the Polaroid Collection. The disposals begin today at 5 p.m. As part of the agreement (which former federal judge Sam Joyner and two other lawyers retained by the photographers helped to forge), nine works are being withdrawn from sale.
The highest-estimated withdrawn work (above) is by Chuck Close, who was the highest-profile critic of the sale. (It’s the same close portrait that you saw behind Sotheby’s photography specialist, Denise Bethel, in this CultureGrrl video.) Two other Close self portraits remain in the sale.
Sotheby’s press office has released this statement regarding the agreement:
John Stoebner, trustee of PBE Corporation, which is the consignor of the Polaroid Collection, has confirmed that nine lots have been withdrawn from the upcoming sale of 482 lots of photographs from the Polaroid Collection at Sotheby’s, to be held on June 21 and 22.
The withdrawn works will be reunited with the balance of the Polaroid Collection currently housed in Somerville, MA, and will further enhance its appeal. The Trustee will be working with Sotheby’s and a representative of certain of the artists in the Polaroid Collection to try and find an institutional home for the remaining approximately 10,000 works in the Polaroid Collection.
Here’s the list of the eight other works (in addition to the Close) that have been withdrawn from the sale (presale estimates in parentheses):
Mary Ellen Mark,
Selected New York Portraits” ($8/12,000)
“Martha Graham” ($2/3,000)
“Selected Photographs from The Education Project”
“Selected Mexican Portraits” ($1,500/2,500)
William Wegman, “Selected Figure Studies.” ($5/7,000)
Various Photographers, “Selected Self-Portraits” ($2/3,000)
“Selected Images” ($5/7,000)
UPDATE: The sale has now begun. Close’s “9 Part Self Portrait,” Lot 3, has made a mockery of its $50,000-70,000 presale estimate, going for a whopping hammer price of $240,000. It was the work that had introduced the presale exhibition:
Robert Rauschenberg‘s “Japanese Sky 1 (From the ‘Bleacher’ Series),” Lot 5, came close to Close, with a final bid of $220,000 (est. $40,000-60,000). But wait a minute! For reasons unexplained by Bethel, who is serving as auctioneer, the Rauschenberg was re-offered directly after the conclusion of bidding for the next lot. This time it fetched slightly less than before—$200,000.
So far, it looks like dealer Janet Borden may have been right when she told me back in February that the works in the same seemed “undervalued” by Sotheby’s.