Sotheby’s Online Auction to Benefit George Eastman House

George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film is organizing a benefit auction of more than 200 items exceeding $1 million in value – fine photographic prints, books, and equipment — to take place at Sotheby’s New York on Oct. 4, 2010.

For more than two years Eastman House representatives have been gathering donations from collectors, photographers, gallerists, and dealers worldwide. None of the auction items are from the Eastman House collections. Among the featured photographs donated to the benefit auction are works by artists Berenice Abbott, Ansel Adams, Louis Faurer, Benedict Fernandez, Todd Hido, Horst P. Horst, Eikoh Hosoe, Gertrude Kasebier, Sally Mann, Nickolas Muray, Paul Outerbridge Jr., Sebastiao Salgado, Southworth & Hawes, Edward Steichen, and Edward Weston.

“We are very grateful so many of our friends, supporters, and professionals in the field have so generously answered our call,” said Manfred Heiting, George Eastman House trustee, who has led the auction effort along with Susan Robfogel, chairwoman of the Eastman House’s board of trustees, and Dr. Anthony Bannon, the Ron and Donna Fielding Director of Eastman House. Special auction staff are managing the logistics of the event with the assistance of Denise Bethel, vice president and director of the photographs department at Sotheby’s, while producing an accompanying collector’s catalog.

Due to the large size of the auction, a portion of the lots will be available for bidding through an online silent auction at Sept. 27 through Oct. 7, 2010 (all items will be displayed at Sotheby’s Oct. 4). Prior to the launch of the online auction, a preview of all items are available at

The last auction organized by Eastman House was in 1977. The challenge of the recession has required the museum to employ new fiscal ventures, such as this auction. The donations have come from more than 200 donors, spanning 160 years of photography, with work dating from 1850 to 2010. Types of photographs include daguerreotypes, salted paper prints, heliogravures, photogravures, carbon, platinum, gelatin silver, dye transfer, and archival pigment prints.

Subjects of the featured photographs include Marilyn Monroe, Frido Kahlo, John F. and Jackie Kennedy, Audrey Hepburn, Martin Luther King Jr., Coco Chanel, Auguste Rodin, and New York City sites, plus a Kodak Colorama art-directed by Norman Rockwell. The auction is not exclusively photographs, however. Also available for bidding are rare cameras, such as one belonging to Herb Ritts, and photographic literature including a book of 19th-century Scottish scenery.

Proceeds from the benefit auction will help the Eastman House — the world’s oldest museum of photography — maintain its extensive collections of photographs, camera technology, motion pictures, and related literature, totaling more than 4 million objects.

This benefit will help ensure continued growth of resources that foster research and study into one of the world’s most historically significant collections. Also benefiting will be the National Historic Landmark house and gardens.

Image: Robert Mapplethorpe, Hands/Jennifer Jakobson, 1981. Vintage gelatin silver print, image 13 3/4 x 10 3/4 inches on a 20 x 16-inch sheet. Donation of Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. Estimate: $10,000. Hands, 1981 © Robert MapplethorpeFoundation. Used by permission. Courtesy Sean Kelley Gallery.

Eastman House is much more than a museum and archive of collections, however, as it is also an educational institution and center of preservation. The museum offers degree-granting graduate programs in photographic and motion-picture film preservation, which educate the top archivists and conservators from around the world.

“For more than 60 years George Eastman House has showcased and supported the celebrated artists of photography, and now we are turning to the artists to support the museum,” said. “And with this overwhelming response, we are pleased and humbled by how enthusiastically those in the photographic world have embraced this effort.”

To find out more about the auction, contact Eastman House at (585) 271-3361 ext. 339 or visit

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