Why is the Polaroid Collection being sold of 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? Is it a comment on the stature of the photography field? Carol Vogel in the New York Times gives Sotheby’s a boost as they launch the marketing of the 1200 photos it will be selling in March.
“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.” While he and other artists would have liked the collection kept intact in a museum’s holdings, John R. Stoebner, the court-appointed trustee for Polaroid, said he had talks with several museums, including the Fogg Museum at Harvard University, but was never able to reach a deal. [...] For six days before the auction Sotheby’s plans to put the images on public view in an exhibition expected to take up its entire York Avenue headquarters. This is likely to be the first and last time the cream of Polaroid’s collection will be seen together. [...] For Sotheby’s experts, holding an auction of 1,200 works is challenging enough. “It will take nearly five months to properly catalog everything,” said Denise Bethel, director of Sotheby’s photography department.
Lindsay Pollock adds on Bloomberg:
Some photo historians and photographers oppose the sale. “The collection is going to be dispersed, which is against promises made to the photographers,” said photography critic and historian A. D. Coleman, who says photographers were told the collection would remain together for public viewing and study.
Coleman said the artists were promised access to the images for copyright enforcement and subsidiary right licensing — all of which would be difficult if the prints are sold to anonymous buyers. “These were never sales, they were exchanges,” said Coleman. “This was permanent custodianship for Polaroid, with visitation rights for the photographers.”
From that Instant Thrill, Enduring Art, Now for Sale (New York Times)