Wednesday, June 30, Bonhams Los Angeles saw successful results in a single-owner sale of what was believed to be the largest collection of photography and ephemera from legendary American photographer Edward S. Curtis to come to market. The sale was led by The Vanishing Race, 1904 (estimate: $20,000-30,000) which sold for $100,313, more than triple its high estimate. Another remarkable result was seen by The Scout Apache, 1905. Estimated at $7,000 – 9,000, this photograph sold for $94,063, realizing over ten times its high estimate. The second lot of the auction, the largest known orotone print of Canon de Chelley, was another sale highlight. This photograph (which notably hung above the fireplace in the Curtis home in Santa Fe Springs, California) sold for $62,813, surpassing its estimate of $30,000-50,000.
In total, the 165-lot sale realized $1,733,046, selling 95% by lot and 96% by value.
Bonhams New York Head of Photographs Laura Paterson commented, “Today’s sale of Edward Curtis photographs and ephemera from the collection of Dr. Billy Utley saw a wonderful outcome. We were especially pleased by the results of The Vanishing Race, a work that encapsulates pervasive themes in Curtis’s work, featuring the Native America figures shorn of their traditional dress, riding into a future unknown. With engaged buyers and enthusiastic bidding throughout the entirety of the auction, it looks as though the market for Curtis’s work is now stronger than ever.”