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Constantiner Collection Achieves Highest Total for a Single Owner Dedicated Photographs Sale
Roy Schatt (1919-2002), James Dean, New York, 1954. 15 gelatin silver prints printed 1982 each 14 x 18in. (35.5 x 45.6cm.) 'Copyright James Dean Foundation Trust 1982' stamps (on the verso) Estimate: $8,000-12,000. Photo: Christie´s Images Ltd 2008.

NEW YORK, NY.- Selling for $7,721,875, the Constantiner Collection achieved the highest total for a single owner dedicated photographs sale at Christie’s. Assembled by Leon and Michaela Constantiner, this spectacular collection focused on photography as a key shaping force within the media worlds that have, for over half a century, celebrated fashion, style, celebrity and desire, and features works by some of the most sought-after artists, including Andy Warhol, Helmut Newton, Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Herb Ritts, and Peter Lindbergh.

Philippe Garner, International Head of Photographs, commented: “The superb results achieved for this collection demonstrate the potential of works bought with true passion and considerable connoisseurship to perform magnificently even in the present uncertain economic climate. The results also confirm the central position that Helmut Newton has rightly been accorded as a master photographer of the 20th century, and, of course, Marilyn Monroe’s magical appeal has proven to be truly timeless.”

The sale was led by Sie Kommen, (Naked and Dressed), Paris, 1981 (estimate: $400,000-600,000), which shattered the world auction for a work by Helmut Newton when it sold for $662,500. The Constantiner Collection boasted the best and largest selection of works in private hands by this towering figure in the story of photography of the last fifty years. Newton came to prominence in the 1970s for his distinctive mix of sophistication and style with shrewd and witty social observation and perverse eroticism.

The second highest lot in the sale, Big Nude III: Henrietta, 1980, also by Helmut Newton, achieved $482,500. The entire selection of photographs contained in the sale by Helmut Newton totaled $3,946,625.

The Constantiner Collection also featured the largest collection of photographs of Marilyn Monroe to appear on the market, which sold for $802,250. The star was presented through the lens and artistry of an impressive roster, including Andy Warhol, André de Dienes, Tom Kelley, Elliott Erwitt, Eve Arnold, Garry Winogrand, Milton Greene and Bert Stern. Highlights also included portraits by André de Dienes dating from 1945-1949, showing the teenage Norma Jeane Baker in the first blossoming of her beauty on Tobay Beach, Long Island, which realized $28,750; Tom Kelley’s famous 1949 color nude of Monroe on a red background, which was featured in the premier issue of Playboy as the magazine’s first ‘Sweetheart of the Month’ sold for $18,750; and Richard Avedon’s 1957 portrait capturing a sad, touching, off-guard Monroe achieved $56,250. The top lot from this section was Bert Stern’s The Last Sitting, which achieved $146,500 – a world auction record, and comprised the key images from the 1962 shoot for American Vogue, which captured Monroe shortly before her tragic death.

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