Friday, February 12, 2010

"There’s really nothing like it in the history of photography. To sell it is criminal"

Earlier this week the NYT's Carol Vogel reported on the sale of the famed Polaroid photo collection:

"The company ... became a victim of the digital age, going bust first in 2001 and again in 2008. The second time, after it was bought by Petters Group Worldwide, Polaroid was caught up in a $3.65 billion Ponzi scheme run by the company’s founder .... To pay off creditors, a bankruptcy court in Minnesota is forcing Polaroid to sell a portion of its collection at Sotheby’s in New York on June 21 and 22. 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."

The Art Market Monitor asks: "Why is the Polaroid Collection being sold off in pieces? Is there no collector, museum or foundation that can afford the $7 to $11m the bankruptcy court would like Polaroid to raise for its creditors?"

Felix Salmon agrees: "The Sotheby’s sale constitutes the destruction of a lovingly-constructed artistic endeavor which was ultimately doomed by the greed and fraud engaged in by the chain of speculators and chancers who levered up and broke down the Polaroid company as though it were any other financial commodity. It’s a crying shame, and the art press should be railing against it, rather than talking it up as some kind of art-market milestone."