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Buhl Collection brings $12.3M - Highest ever total for a private collection of photos sold at auction
László Moholy-Nagy, Fotogram. Est. $300/500,000. Sold for $1,482,500. Photo: Sotheby's.

NEW YORK, NY.- Yesterday at Sotheby’s, the sale A Show Of Hands: Photographs from The Collection of Henry Buhl concluded, bringing a total of $12,318,704, exceeding the pre-sale estimate of $8.1/12.2 million*. The total is the third highest for a single-owner collection of photographs and the highest ever for a private collection of photographs. Following today’s result, all of the seven highest single-owner auctions in this category have been held at Sotheby’s. These include Important Photographs from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, including Works from The Gilman Paper Company Collection in 2006, which holds the record for an institutional photographs collection; and Photographs from The Polaroid Collection, which realized the highest total for a corporate collection of photographs in 2010.

Denise Bethel, Head of Sotheby’s Photographs Department commented: “The exceptional result of this sale is a testament to the skill and discernment of Henry Buhl – a visionary collector and philanthropist. Bidders from around the world competed fiercely for the very best examples of classic images from the first half of the 20th century, with pieces by Herbert Bayer, László Moholy-Nagy, and Man Ray selling for multiples of their high estimates. A Show Of Hands: Photographs from The Collection of Henry Buhl now stands among the landmark single-owner auctions in this field, with the $12.3 million total the highest ever for a private collection of photographs sold at auction. ”

The auction was led by Lonely Metropolitan by Herbert Bayer and Fotogramm by László Moholy-Nagy, each of which sold for $1,482,500. These two results, which now tie as the third highest price for a classic photograph at auction, mean that Sotheby’s has sold eight of the top ten and all of the top six classic photographs at auction. Other highlights included Rayograph with Hand, Lens, and Egg by Man Ray which fetched $866,500, well over the $250/350,000 estimate and Alfred Stieglitz’s Georgia O'Keeffe -- Hands and Thimble which sold for $770,500.

The Buhl Collection, one of the world’s most significant privately owned photograph collections, is made up of images exploring the theme of the human hand and was put together by the visionary philanthropist and collector Henry M. Buhl. The majority of the proceeds will benefit The Buhl Foundation, which enhances the quality of life of underprivileged individuals by supporting education, the homeless, and the arts.

Sotheby's | Buhl Collection | Denise Bethel | Henry Buhl |

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