Sotheby's A Show of Hands photography auction, which featured works from the esteemed collection of Henry Buhl, including striking images by Man Ray and Herbert Bayer, brought a strong $10.4m over a period of two days (December 12-13) - a 15% increase on the $9m estimate.
The Buhl collection, which is considered one of the most important privately owned photography collections, featured numerous important works depicting the human hand, thus the sale's overriding theme.
Highlights at the New York sale included Herbert Bayer's original 1932 montage of Lonely Metropolitan, which carried a $500,000 valuation, selling at a 197% increase for $1.5m, and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy's 1925 Fotogramm, which likewise sold for well over its $500,000 estimate, bringing an identical $1.5m. These two results now tie as third highest price for a classical photograph at auction.
A single 1922 work by the art and fashion photographer Man Ray, featuring a hand, lens and an egg, achieved $866,500 after being given a high-end valuation of $350,000. This sale not only represented a strong 147.6% increase, it also broke the artist's record for a single photograph sold at auction by 2.6%.
The 1929 Primat de la matiere sur la pensee sold at Christie's, Paris in November for $844,463, and was the previous Man Ray record holder.
The title of most valuable photograph sold in 2012 is held by Jeff Wall's Dead Troops Talk, which brought $3.7m when it was offered at Christie's in May.