Sotheby’s concluded the first part of a landmark multi-auction sale series for Pier 24 Photography from the Pilara Family Foundation, achieving an astounding $10.6 million – nearly 120% of the combined presale high estimate – with two thirds of lots outpacing their presale high estimates to benefit the Pilara Family Foundation in support of charitable initiatives in healthcare research, education, and the arts.
The exceptional sale results, attracting bidders from 23 countries, reinforce the unprecedented depth of the Collection, charting the historical intersection of modern art and photography and reflecting the power of the image in contemporary culture.
The two-part single-owner sale set numerous new benchmarks and auction records, including for Robert Frank, whose renowned Charleston, S.C. attracted the highest number of bids (32), leading the sale series for a total of $952,500 and shattering Frank’s previous auction record. Robert Adams’s Selected Images from Eden, Colorado marked another artist record, achieving 130% of its presale high estimate for a total of $330,200. Other notable accolades for the collection include new records for a singular work from Richard Avedon’s In the American West series for Juan Patricio Lobato, Carney, Rocky Ford, Colorado, August 23, 1980 and Clarence Lippard, Drifter, Interstate 80, Sparks, Nevada, August 29, 1983, both of which yielded 150% of their presale high estimates, each realizing $444,500 as well as a record for the highest price for a portrait of Bob Dylan from Bob Dylan, Singer, New York, New York, February 10, 1965, which trounced the previous record by more than double; Deborah Luster, whose One Big Self: Prisoners of Louisiana more than tripled its presale high estimate for a total of $101,600 in her auction debut; Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California, which realized $609,600, marking a new record for the iconic image and the second highest price for Lange overall.
Auction records were also achieved for Larry Clark, Shomei Tomatsu, Katy Grannan, David Goldblatt, Bruce Davidson, Wright Morris, Josef Koudelka, and Erica Deeman, who made her auction debut.
The inspiration for the Collection began in 2003, when the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) presented a groundbreaking retrospective of the work by renowned artist and photographer Diane Arbus. It was in this landmark exhibition that Andy Pilara found himself taken by the medium, absorbed by the emotional intensity of not only Arbus’ work, but also with the visceral power of photography and image-making. The experience would inspire Pilara and his wife Mary to acquire their first photograph, a Diane Arbus, marking the genesis of a collecting journey spanning nearly two decades during which the Pilaras would build one of the most comprehensive and significant collections of 20th century and post-war photographs ever assembled.
In 2010, the Pilaras opened Pier 24 Photography—a world-class exhibition space located on San Francisco’s Embarcadero. As a testament to their dedication as photography collectors and their philanthropic spirit and desire to giving back to their community, Pier 24 Photography was free and open to the public. Designed to showcase their expanding collection through a rotating program of curated exhibitions, Pier 24 welcomed not only the global photography and fine art communities, but also opened its doors to school children and students, while providing critical resources to emerging photographers through a visiting artist program, commissioned projects, and other awards.
As the Pilara Family Foundation transitions from an operating foundation to a granting foundation, all proceeds from the auctions will be directed to charitable initiatives in healthcare research, education, and the arts.
Further auctions from the Pier 24 Photography from the Pilara Family Foundation will take place at Sotheby’s New York in the Fall of 2023.