Diodato Collection Attracted Bidders for Photobooks and Photographs at Swann Galleries


NEW YORK—On Thursday, February 27 Swann Galleries auctioned more than 180 photographic images and books from The Library of Bill Diodato, along with 90 Fine Photographs from other consigners, in a sale that brought in nearly $1 million.

Daile Kaplan, Vice President and Director of Photographs & Photobooks, said, “The fine-art photography market continues to expand and reach a global network of active buyers, and the success of the Bill Diodato Library underscores the strength of the photobook marketplace.”

The sale’s top lot was a 1978 suite of 12 silver prints of Industrial Facades by Bernd and Hilla Becher, the ground-breaking collaborators known for their typologies of industrial buildings and structures. It sold for $125,000*.

Other prominent images from Diodato’s collection included Sally Mann’s Vinland, 1992 and Jessie Bites, 1985, $21,250 and $13,750 respectively.


Among the stand-out photobooks were 12 first edition photobooks by Edward Ruscha, three of which were signed, 1966-78, $32,500 for the set; William Eggleston’s 2 ¼, 1999, $6,750; Brassaï’s Paris de Nuit, 1933, $6,000 and Bill Brandt’s A Night in London, 1938, which achieved an auction record price of $5,750.

Highlights from the Fine Photographs portion of the auction were many 19th-century images and albums, some of which set new auction records, including Alexander Gardner’s Thus It Be Ever With Assassins, albumen print of the hanging of the Lincoln assassination conspirators, 1865, $27,500; an oversized album containing 37 platinum print photograph of Chicago and the Columbian Exposition, 1891, by Charles D. Arnold, $21,760; and Sinai and Palestine, Photographed by Francis Frith, with 37 albumen prints, of Gaza, Jerusalem, Damascus and more, London, circa 1862, $16,250.

Additional choice early photographs were a group of 13 plates from William Henry Fox Talbot’s The Pencil of Nature, salted paper prints, 1844-46, $20,480; a crime album containing 756 photographs of male inmates at Folsom Penitentiary, with three binders of research and historical accounts on 637 of the inmates, 1869-99$16,250; Wilhelm Hammerschmidt’s Egypt, album with 38 albumen prints, 1853-60, $12,500; and a 360-degree panorama of Singapore, composed of 11 silver prints, 1908, $9,600.

Vernacular images from the 20th century included an industrial album for the Edison Mazda Company, with 85 silver print photographs related to the manufacture of light bulbs, 1920s, $10,625; and an album with more than 100 photographs of large-scale construction projects, including the Potomac Electric Power Co. Buzzard Point Plant and the Johns-Manville Products Corp. of Virginia, 1938-1940, $9,375.

Fine art highlights included William Klein New York 54/55, portfolio with 12 silver prints, printed 1978, $17,500; André Kertész’s Washington Square Park, NYC, silver print, 1954, printed 1967, $16,250; two Ernst Haas portfolios, Flowers I, complete with 12 dye-transfer prints, 1984, which brought a record $15,000 and Creation, complete with 10 dye-transfer prints, 1981, $10,000; Arnold Newman’s Jean Arp and Joan Miro, two silver prints, 1949-55, $11,875; and Margaret Bourke-White’s Derrick and Smoke, silver print, circa 1936, $10,000.

For complete results, an illustrated catalogue, with prices realized on request, is available for $35 from Swann Galleries, Inc., 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, or online at www.swanngalleries.com.

For further information, and to propose consignments to upcoming Photographs auctions, please contact Daile Kaplan at (212) 254-4710, extension 21, or via email at dkaplan@swanngalleries.com.

*All prices include buyer’s premium.

First image: Bernd and Hilla Becher, Industrial Facades, suite of 12 silver prints, 1978. Sold for $125,000 (including buyer's premium).

Second image: Edward Ruscha, group of 12 artist photobooks, first editions, three signed, 1966-78. Sold for $32,500 (including buyer's premium).

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