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Thread started 28 Feb 2013 (Thursday) 16:07
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Famous photographer's vintage negative: Can I make money with it?

 
FotoDog
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Mar 02, 2013 11:15 |  #46

RDKirk wrote in post #15668319 (external link)
Sotheby's might be willing to put it on auction for the OP...it's what they do, after all. Their certification of its authenticity and their wide audience might draw a lot more money even after they take their cut.

In addition to regular auctions, Sotheby's does buy and sell for itself, and they buy and sell privately, where they are the middleman. In many of these options there is a minimum dollar value required, for example: "Please note that Sotheby’s minimum consignment value for private sale is $50,000." So, I think that leaves me out. Selling directly to them is a different matter. Just depends on whether they want it.

I did email their photography department yesterday about the copyright matter and to see if they might be interested. Within 25 minutes my message was relayed to her colleague in London who is in charge of their Beaton Archive. That person "will be in touch" with me.

`




  
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breal101
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Mar 02, 2013 12:09 |  #47

FotoDog wrote in post #15668429 (external link)
In addition to regular auctions, Sotheby's does buy and sell for itself, and they buy and sell privately, where they are the middleman. In many of these options there is a minimum dollar value required, for example: "Please note that Sotheby’s minimum consignment value for private sale is $50,000." So, I think that leaves me out. Selling directly to them is a different matter. Just depends on whether they want it.

I did email their photography department yesterday about the copyright matter and to see if they might be interested. Within 25 minutes my message was relayed to her colleague in London who is in charge of their Beaton Archive. That person "will be in touch" with me.

`

Keep us posted on how things go with Sotheby's, at least you're dealing with a reputable auction company. I'm sure you're aware that if they make an offer it will be for less than what they think it may go for at auction. They want to make money too. It's only right of course. If you decide to go to auction you take the risk that it doesn't sell because of lack of interest or the reserve is set too high. You will have to pay certain fees regardless. It's always a tough decision to make.

I worked with several auction houses for over 15 years shooting their catalogs. I've seen situations where the people came out far behind selling outright and some where they came out ahead, considering the fees attached.


"Try to go out empty and let your images fill you up." Jay Maisel

  
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ryanshoots
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Mar 02, 2013 12:20 |  #48

Robert Dunlop wrote in post #15665245 (external link)
Those pillows are way over exposed anyway.

I must be on dpreview.




  
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FotoDog
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Mar 02, 2013 12:25 |  #49

ryanshoots wrote in post #15668599 (external link)
I must be on dpreview.

Plus, I think he may have been looking at the "other" photo.




  
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bpiper7
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Mar 04, 2013 11:32 |  #50

Robert Dunlop wrote in post #15665245 (external link)
Who really cares who owns the copyright? It was taken so long ago that nobody will be interested.
Just reword your ebay listings to reflect the newly-found, potentially lucrative information and cash in.
Those pillows are way over exposed anyway.

And they said integrity was dead. :rolleyes:


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rx7speed
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Mar 06, 2013 23:20 |  #51

Just curious any word yet on what they are saying?


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FotoDog
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Mar 06, 2013 23:29 |  #52

rx7speed wrote in post #15686133 (external link)
Just curious any word yet on what they are saying?

The Beaton archive person at Sotheby's London did reply to me and asked for images, which I sent. That was two days ago. And that's where it's at.




  
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professorman
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Mar 13, 2013 15:21 |  #53

FotoDog wrote in post #15686160 (external link)
The Beaton archive person at Sotheby's London did reply to me and asked for images, which I sent. That was two days ago. And that's where it's at.

Did you send low resolution? Hope they dont steal it :cry:


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FotoDog
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Mar 13, 2013 15:57 |  #54

professorman wrote in post #15711442 (external link)
Did you send low resolution? Hope they dont steal it :cry:

Yes, I did send low resolution, both of the negative (photo taken at an angle as well) and the positive.

Also, just this morning I received a reply from Sotheby's. I'll be posting that with my comments and some questions sometime later today.

`




  
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FotoDog
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Mar 13, 2013 18:15 as a reply to  @ FotoDog's post |  #55

Here is Sotheby's reply in its entirety, with my comments below:
_______________
Dear Paul

Thank you for sending those attachments. Having looked at the negatives we hold, they as you say, may be from the same sitting but it is impossible to tell if they are actually by Beaton. We have other examples of photographs very similar to Beaton’s but not actually by him. As far as we can currently tell, Sotheby’s do not own any copyright in the image you have acquired. However, we cannot give any assurances about copyright that others might hold in the image. Sotheby’s wouldn’t be interested in buying the negative from you.

With best wishes
Joanna Ling
Sotheby's Picture Library / Cecil Beaton Studio Archive

_______________

So, that's it. Not a lot of info in that message, and a little unclear in places. They seem to be saying that if they don't have an exact match in their collection, then they can't say for sure whether it is by Beaton or some other photographer who may have been there at the same time. Fair enough, from a legal perspective.

It appears (from Wikipedia) that Sotheby's acquired nearly everything of Beaton's a few years before his death. I will continue to pursue other avenues, if I find them, to determine whether anyone else might hold copyright over this image, but I would guess that the chances are slim. At least I now know that Sotheby's won't bother me about copyright issues.

I know, of course, that I will never own the copyright (either someone else owns it, or it's in the public domain), but until someone tells me otherwise, I will consider it my image to use however I like, and sell prints to anyone who wants them (while keeping the negative and large image files for myself). I will refer to it as a "presumed Cecil Beaton photograph, recently discovered."

If there's anything I'm overlooking here, please comment.

Btw, the 8x10 prints I had made for eBay sales, I had done in cyan blue, because it looks cool that way. It also looks good in sepia. But for historical accuracy, at a certain point I suppose I'll have them printed in b&w.

`




  
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CraigPatterson
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Mar 13, 2013 18:43 |  #56

Complex legal issues aside, I actually think I would be pleased to get that response, because frankly, I think the shot you have is dramatically superior (artistically) to the more common one. I wish you all the best in making (legal) money with it.

I disagree with RDKirk, though his experience is certainly superior to mine. It doesn't look to me like it's the same photographer. To me, the treatment is very different, and they actually look like different cameras, as though there were a couple of people in the room.

Thank you for keeping us informed about it - it's a fascinating story, and I hope you'll continue to give us news as it happens.


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RDKirk
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Mar 13, 2013 18:46 |  #57

FotoDog wrote in post #15712049 (external link)
Here is Sotheby's reply in its entirety, with my comments below:
_______________
Dear Paul

Thank you for sending those attachments. Having looked at the negatives we hold, they as you say, may be from the same sitting but it is impossible to tell if they are actually by Beaton. We have other examples of photographs very similar to Beaton’s but not actually by him. As far as we can currently tell, Sotheby’s do not own any copyright in the image you have acquired. However, we cannot give any assurances about copyright that others might hold in the image. Sotheby’s wouldn’t be interested in buying the negative from you.

With best wishes
Joanna Ling
Sotheby's Picture Library / Cecil Beaton Studio Archive

_______________

So, that's it. Not a lot of info in that message, and a little unclear in places. They seem to be saying that if they don't have an exact match in their collection, then they can't say for sure whether it is by Beaton or some other photographer who may have been there at the same time. Fair enough, from a legal perspective.

It appears (from Wikipedia) that Sotheby's acquired nearly everything of Beaton's a few years before his death. I will continue to pursue other avenues, if I find them, to determine whether anyone else might hold copyright over this image, but I would guess that the chances are slim. At least I now know that Sotheby's won't bother me about copyright issues.

I know, of course, that I will never own the copyright (either someone else owns it, or it's in the public domain), but until someone tells me otherwise, I will consider it my image to use however I like, and sell prints to anyone who wants them (while keeping the negative and large image files for myself). I will refer to it as a "presumed Cecil Beaton photograph, recently discovered."

If there's anything I'm overlooking here, please comment.

Btw, the 8x10 prints I had made for eBay sales, I had done in cyan blue, because it looks cool that way. It also looks good in sepia. But for historical accuracy, at a certain point I suppose I'll have them printed in b&w.

`

It seems to me that if they examined the negative, they should be able to tell with great confidence whether it's from the same camera. For whatever reason, it seems they're just not interested.




  
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FotoDog
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Mar 13, 2013 20:14 |  #58

RDKirk wrote in post #15712166 (external link)
It seems to me that if they examined the negative, they should be able to tell with great confidence whether it's from the same camera. For whatever reason, it seems they're just not interested.

The same thought occurred to me, although I believe the 2.25" x 2.25" format was quite common then. There are no numbers or other identifiers on my negative, but it is cut from a roll, and as you suggest could under ideal circumstances be compared to others from the same roll, if they exist.

It seems Sotheby's must have a lot of potentially useful information for me, but I have to be satisfied with their response. For example, they did not indicate what they do have from that Beaton sitting. Maybe they only have that one published image, and no negatives.

I don't know, maybe if I paid them for an official appraisal of authenticity, they would come up with more info. Beaton's notes? Cocteau's notes? Correspondence? Anything to indicate whether another photographer was present.

Another thing to consider is the fact that the negative does have some serious artifacts in it (a couple of long, very thin whip-like strings) which may account for why it was never published (if that's the case). Beaton didn't have digital editing at his disposal, so this negative may have been tossed out or put aside for that reason.

`




  
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FotoDog
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Mar 13, 2013 20:18 |  #59

CraigPatterson wrote in post #15712156 (external link)
Complex legal issues aside, I actually think I would be pleased to get that response, because frankly, I think the shot you have is dramatically superior (artistically) to the more common one. I wish you all the best in making (legal) money with it.

. . .

Any suggestions as to how exactly I might cash in would be greatly appreciated. :)




  
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FotoDog
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Mar 13, 2013 20:28 |  #60

CraigPatterson wrote in post #15712156 (external link)
. . .
I disagree with RDKirk, though his experience is certainly superior to mine. It doesn't look to me like it's the same photographer. To me, the treatment is very different, and they actually look like different cameras, as though there were a couple of people in the room. . . .

In my opinion, having looked at lots of other Beaton photos recently, I would say that mine looks a lot MORE like his work than that other one. But what do I know?




  
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Famous photographer's vintage negative: Can I make money with it?
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