Sotheby’s to Sell Off Polaroid Collection

3074880 Sothebys to Sell Off Polaroid CollectionThe bankrupt Polaroid company will be selling off the highlights of its photography collection. Sotheby’s has scheduled the auction for June 21st and 22nd, following a six-day-long display filling the entirety of Sotheby’s headquarters. The Times reports:

On offer will be 400 photographs by Ansel Adams alone, along with prints by [Chuck] Close, [William] Wegman, Robert Rauschenberg, David Hockney, Robert Frank, Robert Mapplethorpe, Warhol and Lucas Samaras. Together the 1,200 objects are expected to fetch $7.5 million to $11.5 million.

Polaroid amassed its collection by trading artists equipment and darkroom time in exchange for their input and their prints, and by hiring Ansel Adams to collect non-Polaroid works in the ’50s. The items for sale are “just a fraction” of the 10,000 that Sotheby’s has in storage.

Apparently, Polaroid’s representatives had talks with various museums (including the Fogg at Harvard) but couldn’t reach a deal. Many, including Chuck Close, are not pleased to see the collection broken up:

“It’s an amazing body of work,” Mr. Close said in a telephone interview. “There’s really nothing like it in the history of photography.” But, he added, “to sell it is criminal.”

But the over-70-year-old company is in bad shape. Most recently, according to The Times, it’s been “caught up in a $3.65 billion Ponzi scheme.”

Says Bloomberg:

The two-day auction is likely to rank among the biggest sales of corporate photography collections liquidated by a bankrupt company. Futures trader Refco Inc. holds the record of $9.7 million fetched for its photography collection sold at Christie’s in 2006.