Collection of Crime Photos & Modernist Masterpieces at Swann Galleries October 17


New York—On Thursday, October 17 Swann Galleries will conduct an auction of Fine Photographs & Photobooks that offers fascinating crime-related photographs — from mugshot albums to crime-scene images — from the collection of Mark Michaelson and others.

Michaelson, a New York-based collector and curator, has published a book of American mugshots spanning 100 years and is the subject of a forthcoming documentary on the subject. Among the highlights of his collection is a mugshot album with nearly 1500 entries from a cross-section of crimes spanning the U.S. from California to New York, including several depicting members of the International Workers of the World, arrested during a clash with military authorities, 1905-1920 (estimate: $10,000 to $15,000).

From a separate collection are images of John Dillinger dead, 1934, printed 1936, and victims of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, 1929, printed 1936, both displayed as part of an exhibition of “thrilling newspictures” in the 1936 California Pacific International Exposition ($10,000 to $15,000 each).

Another notorious incident is captured in Alexander Gardner’s four photographs of the hanging of the Lincoln assassination conspirators on July 7, 1865. This very rare grouping of images includes “Arrival on Scaffold,” “Reading the Death Warrant,” “Adjusting the Ropes” and “Thus It Be Ever With Assassins,” and are considered one of the first examples of photojournalism ($20,000 to $30,000 for the set).

Also among the 19th century items in the sale are cased images such as a full-plate daguerreotype urban street scene, most likely Greenpoint, Brooklyn, mid-1850s ($20,000 o $30,000); travel albums replete with images of Asia from the esteemed collection of Fong Chow; a rare sample album with 742 half stereoviews by William Henry Jackson of various subjects, 1870-85 ($20,000 to $30,000); and Roma, an album with 59 spectacular views of the Eternal City by Robert Turnbull Macpherson, circa 1860 ($30,000 to $40,000).

From the early 20th century come Paul Strand’s Wall Street, platinum palladium print, 1915, printed 1983 ($14,000 to $18,000); Heinrich Kühn’s Tonwertstudie (Innsbruck), gum bichromate print, circa 1910 ($6,000 to $9,000) and Rubber Plant, bromoil print on tissue, 1929 ($8,000 to $12,000); a vintage print of Imogen Cunningham’s striking Agave Pattern, silver print, 1932 ($10,000 to $15,000); a group of 16 prints by Farm Security Administration photographers including Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange and Arthur Rothstein, 1936-1939, printed 1970s ($7,000 to $10,000); and a first edition of Alvin Langdon Coburn’s London, London and New York, 1909 ($15,000 to $20,000).


Other city views are Bill Brandt’s A Snicket in Halifax, silver print, 1937, printed 1970s ($10,000 to $15,000); Berenice Abbott’s Dc-4 Flying Over New York City, silver print, 1939, printed 1999 ($12,000 to $18,000) and New York at Night, 1932, printed circa 1980 ($7,000 to $10,000); Ilse Bing’s Eiffel Tower, Paris, 1934 ($6,000 to $9,000); and Helen Levitt’s Children with a broken mirror, New York City, 1940, printed 1970s ($6,000 to $9,000).

Resplendent images of nature by Ansel Adams include Surf Sequence #, San Mateo County Coast, California, 1940, printed 1981 ($20,000 to $30,000); Monolith, the Face of Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, 1927, printed 1959 ($18,000 to $22,000); Trailside, Near Juneau, Alaska, 1948 ($7,000 to $10,000); and White Branches, Mono Lake, California, 1950, printed 1976 ($14,000 to $18,000).

There are also explorations of natural forms by Aaron Siskind, with Jerome, Arizona 21, 1949, printed later ($7,000 to $10,000); and Minor White, with Beginnings, Frosted Window, Rochester, NY, 1962, printed 1970s ($10,000 to $15,000).

Among works by Henri Cartier-Bresson are Alicante, Spain, silver print, 1933, printed 1980s ($10,000 to $15,000); Kashmir (Muslim women praying at dawn in Srinagar), 1948, printed 1980s ($10,000 to $10,000); and his portrait of William Faulkner at home with his Jack Russells, Oxford, Mississippi, 1947, printed 1970s ($5,000 to $7,500).

Also depicting well-known subjects are Irving Penn’s Portrait of Lillian Hellman, signed and dated by Penn and additionally signed and inscribed by Hellman, who gifted the photograph to her stepdaughter, 1947 ($20,000 to $30,000); Yousouf Karsh’s close-up of John F. Kennedy, 1960, printed circa 1980 ($10,000 to $15,000); Geoge Zimbel’s Enhanced Marilyn Monroe Portfolio #2, with 21 photographs of the actress on the set of The Seven Year Itch, 1954, printed 1984-2013 ($18,000 to $22,000); and the Bert Stern Marilyn portfolio, The Last Sitting, with 10 color C-prints, 1962 ($18,000 to $22,000).

Other portfolios of note are Edward Weston Portfolio, with 10 of Weston’s photographs including Pepper No. 30 and Two Shells, 1925-48, printed 1971 ($25,000 to $35,000); Pirkle Jones’s Portfolio Two, with 12 photographs, 1947-58, printed 1968 ($10,000 to $15,000); Paul Caponigro’s Portfolio II, with eight silver prints, 1957-70, printed 1973 ($12,000 to $18,000); and a group of 33 photo postcards by street photographer Bill Dane, 1976-87 ($8,000 to $12,000).

Also from the latter half of the 20th century (and early 21st) are Seydou Keïta’s Two girls in native dress, 1949-51, printed 1995 ($8,000 to $12,000); Hiroshi Sugimoto’s Cabot Street Cinema, Massachusetts, 1978 ($10,000 to $15,000);  Ernst Haas’s Route 66, Albuquerque, New Mexico, dye-transfer print, 1969, printed 2003 ($5,000 to $7,500); Ed Burtynsky’s Oxford Tire Pile #1, Westly, California, oversized chromogenic print, 1999, printed 2000 ($10,000 to $15,000) and Robert Polidori’s 5979 West End Boulevard, New Orleans, September, Fujicolor Crystal Archive print, 2005 ($18,000 to $22,000).

The auction will begin at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 17.

The photographs and books will be on public exhibition at Swann Galleries on Saturday, October 12, from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.; Monday, October 14 to Wednesday, October 16, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Thursday, October 17, from 10 a.m. to noon.

An illustrated catalogue with information on bidding by mail or fax, is available for $35 from Swann Galleries, Inc., 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, or online at

For further information, and to make advance arrangements to bid by telephone during the auction, please contact Daile Kaplan at (212) 254-4710, extension 21, or via e-mail at

Live online bidding is also available via

First image: Mugshot album with approx. 1500 entries, 1905-20. From the collection of Mark Michaelson (estimate: $10,000 to $15,000).

Second image: Bill Brandt’s A Snicket in Halifax, silver print, 1937, printed 1970s (estimate: $10,000 to $15,000).