That auction of rare Diane Arbus photos that a Center City collector hunted and gathered? It's off.
It was to have happened Tuesday in New York. A lawsuit from the man who sold the photos and other contents of a circus trunk salvaged from storage has sued, contending Bob Langmuir tricked him. Langmuir denies, saying this is how business is done, but the auction house, Phillips de Pury, wanted the legal matter resolved before the sale, which the New York Times has estimated will bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The photographs show performers at Hubert’s Dime Museum and Flea Circus, a freak show on 42nd Street in Manhattan, where Arbus shot the locals before finding fame for her distinctive style. A Brooklyn collector named Bayo Ogunsanya sold them to Langmuir for $3,500 in 2003 and contends the Philadelphia dealer knew their worth. Langmuir, the subject of a column in March, told me he only learned they were Arbus prints long after acquiring them.