On 17th December 2019, photography and art enthusiasts alike struck another gift of their Christmas list, thanks to Los Angeles-based gallerist Peter Fetterman and privately owned international auction house, Bonhams.
Teaming up, the collaborative effort materialized in the form of a major photography auction in New York. With interested parties gathering both in person and online to place their bids, the auction was named after an iconic Christmas film by James Stewart, entitled A Wonder Life.
Focusing on images of joy and cheer, the auction featured master prints from Fetterman’s own collection with prices which started anywhere from $1,000 to $6,000. Amongst others, the auction included images of a young and ‘hip’ Audrey Hepburn on a bike, Paul McCartney in his early Hamburg quiff years, and a retro Queen Elizabeth II sitting down with a jigsaw puzzle – not forgetting mid-performance photographs of Elvis Presley and Freddie Mercury, for the fans.
With work by Swiss-French humanist photographer, Sabine Weiss, and Berenice Abbott who is revered for her revealing shots of 1930s New York – the A Wonderful Life auction seemed to be the perfect close to another year, despite garnering an overall Buy-In rate of 50% and a total sale of $350K which was lower than the expected $564K.
While 96.88% of the lots that sold had proceeds in or above the estimated pre-sale range – the top outcome was lot 107, Edward Curtis, Canyon de Chelly (1904), which sold for 5K more than expected, reeling in a total of $13825.