Weegee Photographs & Signed Book

Value (2014) | $1,650 Auction$2,700 Auction

These are pictures of my husband when he was about two years old taken by the photographer Weegee. Weegee was a photographer in the '40s and '50s, and he worked alongside my mother-in-law, Sophie Seebacher. She was the reporter, he was her photographer, and they went on many different excursions together. She was no longer working with PM at this time. She quit around 1947, or actually the journalists came back from the war and she lost her job, but they stayed friends for a while. After she had Bobby, she asked him to come over and take some photographs of him, and these are them.

So what year were these pictures taken?

I think it's around 1952. He looks like he should be about two years old. Unfortunately, even my husband doesn't remember when they were taken. (laughing)

Well, he looks like he's having a lot of fun.

Oh, yeah.

And Weegee is the quintessential New York photographer. When we were talking earlier, I loved that you referred to him as Arthur Fellig. You basically kept saying, "Arthur took these pictures." And in fact, Arthur Fellig is Weegee's name. The origin of Weegee is kind of interesting. It may be a little apocryphal, but he was so good at getting to crime scenes before the police, before the official cadre, that his associates would claim that he had access to a Ouija board. (laughs) But Arthur Fellig was associated with newspaper reportage in the 1930s and the 1940s. But what was he really focused on? Crime. The night spots, the most grizzly murders, homicides, and he would get there with his camera and create these very hard-edged, black-and-white images with a Speed Graflex using a flash. So when you brought in these pictures of a very different period, the 1950s, and different subject matter, I thought, "This is really fun." You also brought in some pictures of Weegee at work.

That picture was taken during the sitting, and it was taken by Frances Avery, which was Weegee's girlfriend at the time. On the right side of that photo is Bobby's mother, Sophie, and Arthur taking the picture.

In terms of the pictures, the way they're framed and presented, we don't see Weegee's signature, but you were also kind enough to bring in this publication entitled "Weegee's Secrets," and if we open the page, we will see that Weegee actually signed this. And so here, we have Weegee's signature, and then later on in the publication are the images of Bobby reproduced. This one is reproduced in the publication, this one is a variant. So we know definitively that here's Weegee in the picture, here are the pictures of Bobby in a Weegee publication. So the little publication, Weegee's Secrets, at auction, this would be estimated in the $150 to $200 price range. Weegee published a number of books, including Naked City, which is his most popular and coveted book. This is more a trade book. So this behind-the-scenes image that was done by Frances Avery, that really doesn't have any add-on value. Do you have any sense of what the photographs might be worth?

They are not Weegee's usual photographs, so we have not a clue.

Well, a pair of images like this, my auction estimate would be in the $1,500 to $2,500 price range.

Oh, my God, that's great!

The crime scenes sell in the $15,000 to $30,000 range.

Appraisal Details

Swann Auction Galleries
New York, NY
Appraised value (2014)
$1,650 Auction$2,700 Auction
New York, NY (August 09, 2014)

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