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Phillips (25/20/12.5% buyer’s premium) in New York held the Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Eye of the Century sale on December 12, comprised of photographs that had been amassed by California gallery owner Peter Fetterman.

The collection resulted in an impressive total of $2.05m (£1.53m), including premium, double the pre-sale estimate, and 112 of the 120 lots got away (93%). Several new records for individual images were set.

Fetterman runs the Peter Fetterman Gallery in Santa Monica. He spent four decades acquiring these photographs. He plans “to bring Henri’s legacy forward in helping the next generation of photographers. Proceeds from this sale will be used to fund a new publishing programme for books by emerging photographers.”


Henri Cartier-Bresson, Near Céreste, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France (self-portrait), 1999 sold at Phillips on December 12 for premium-inclusive $52,500 (£39,300). ©Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photo

Phillips’ photographs specialist and head of sale, Rachel Peart, said the auction brought “global participation, with bidders from the US to India and South Africa”.

She added: “Photographs from Cartier-Bresson’s travels across Europe performed particularly well.” Hyères, France, 1932, led the sale at a premium-inclusive $100,000 (£74,850), against an estimate of $12,000-18,000.

Phillips said the second-highest price, $52,500 (£39,300) for Siphnos, Greece, 1961, was an auction world record for that particular image. The estimate was $10,000-15,000.

The auction house said the other records in the top 10 best-sellers – all premium-inclusive – were set for Henri Matisse observing a ceramic vase by Pablo Picasso, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, 1951 – $40,000 (£29,940); Martine Franck, Paris, 1967 – $38,750 (£29,000); Brie, France, 1968 – $35,000 (£26,200); and Gardens of the Palais Royal, Paris, 1959 –$33,750 (£25,260).

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