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  • Press release
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  • New York
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  • For immediate release
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  • 14 September 2022

The Herman Melville Collection Of William S. Reese

THE HERMAN MELVILLE COLLECTION OF WILLIAM S. REESE

 SALE TOTAL: $2,783,214

New York – Christie’s continued its sales of the fabled private library of the most prominent antiquarian book dealer of his generation with the online sale of the Herman Melville Collection of William S. Reese (1 –14 September), which totaled $2,783,214, achieving 171% hammer price above the low estimate. The sale saw global participation, with buyers from five countries. First-time registrants accounted for 38% of bidders. The top lot of the sale, Dante’s Divine Comedy, heavily annotated by Melville and with his ownership signature, achieved $441,000 against a pre-sale estimate of $100,000-150,000. Other notable highlights included an incredibly rare remainder issue of The Whale, as the London edition of Moby-Dick was titled, which realized $327,600, far eclipsing the previous auction record for a book by Herman Melville.  Another copy of The Whale, this one in the first issue and rare publisher's binding, fetched $302,400; Melville’s self-published volume of poetry, John Marr, made $302,400; Illustrations For Moby Dick, by Rockwell Kent realized $201,600; Battle-Pieces, inscribed by Melville, made $138,600; and the Doheny copy of Melville’s Clarel, achieved $107,1000.

About Christie’s

Founded in 1766, Christie’s is a world-leading art and luxury business. Renowned and trusted for its expert live and online auctions, as well as its bespoke private sales, Christie’s offers a full portfolio of global services to its clients, including art appraisal, art financing, international real estate and education. Christie’s has a physical presence in 46 countries, throughout the Americas, Europe, Middle East, and Asia Pacific, with flagship international sales hubs in New York, London, Hong Kong, Paris and Geneva. It also is the only international auction house authorized to hold sales in mainland China (Shanghai).

Christie’s auctions span more than 80 art and luxury categories, at price points ranging from $200 to over $100 million. In recent years, Christie’s has achieved the world record price for an artwork at auction (Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, 2017), for a 20th century artwork (Andy Warhol’s Shot Sage Blue Marilyn, 2022) and for a work by a living artist (Jeff Koons’ Rabbit, 2019). Christie's is also recognised as a reference for prestigious single owner collections, having auctioned 8 of the 10 most important collections in history.

Christie’s Private Sales offers a seamless service for buying and selling art, jewellery and watches outside of the auction calendar, working exclusively with Christie’s specialists at a client’s individual pace.

Recent innovations at Christie’s include the groundbreaking sale of the first NFT for a digital work of art ever offered at a major auction house (Beeple’s Everydays, March 2021), with the unprecedented acceptance of cryptocurrency as a means of payment. As an industry leader in digital innovation, Christie’s also continues to pioneer new technologies that are redefining the business of art, including use of hologram technology to tour life-size 3D objects around the world, and the creation of viewing and bidding experiences that integrate augmented reality, global livestreaming, buy-now channels, and hybrid sales formats. 

Christie’s is dedicated to advancing responsible culture throughout its business and communities worldwide, including achieving sustainability through net zero carbon emissions by 2030, and actively using its platform in the art world to amplify under-represented voices and support positive change.

Browse, bid, discover, and join us for the best of art and luxury at: www.christies.com or by downloading Christie’s apps. The COVID-related re-opening status of our global locations is available here.