On Monday, one of Ansel Adams’s most recognized images sold for a record price of $988,000 during an auction of a Texas oil executive David Arrington’s photographs collection at Sotheby’s in New York.
The single-owner sale of 115 works from Arrington’s extensive photographers collection brought in a collective $6.4 million, over $6.2 million pre-sale high estimated value and the realizing the highest total for a photographs sale at the house since 2014. Three landscape photos sold in the auction achieved the artist’s highest auction price.
A mural-sized print of “The Grand Tetons and the Snake River” sold for $988,000, against an estimate of $400,000-$600,000. Photographed on commission for the Department of the Interior in 1942, the view of Jackson Hole is said to be one of 10 mural-sized prints of this image. Arrington acquired the early edition from Adams’s relatives Michael and Jeanne Adams. It was purchased by art advisory firm Gurr Johns.
The figure surpasses Adams’s previous record set in June 2010 during the Polaroid corporate collection sale at Sotheby’s. There, his mural-sized print Clearing Winter Storm, Yosemite National Park, said to have been printed in the 1950s or 1960s sold for $722,500.
The firm also purchased a rare early print of “Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico” for $685,500, hammering below the pre-sale expectation of $700,000-$1 million. Prior to the sale, it was Moonrise that was poised bring a new record for Adams; the negative is one Adams revisited throughout his career, according to Emily Bierman, Sotheby’s head of the photographs department in New York, and is the earliest print from the negative that has come to market. Its first owners were Sidney Liebes, former chairman of San Francisco department store, H. Liebes & Co. who acquired the work directly from Adams around 1941-42. The last highest price paid for a print of Moonrise was $609,600 at Sotheby’s New York in 2006.