Weegee's Photographic Tour of New York City's Colourful Nightlife, Crime and Characters

Launch Slideshow

Arthur Fellig, known as “Weegee,” famously covered New York’s crime beat, as well as its people, nightlife and colourful everyday happenings from the 1930s until his death in 1968. A tireless self-promoter, he frequently stamped his photos: “Photo Credit by Weegee the Famous.” In 1981, Side Gallery in Newcastle upon Tyne organised the first United Kingdom tour of Weegee’s work, for which Weegee’s long-time companion Wilma Wilcox donated a collection of prints found in Weegee’s bedroom upon his death. A selection of prints from the so-called “Weegee’s Bedroom” collection offered here are being sold to benefit the Side Gallery and Collective. -AIMEE PFLIEGER, PHOTOGRAPHS SPECIALIST

Exceptional Exposures: Photojournalism Online
17 November–1 December

Weegee's Photographic Tour of New York City's Colourful Nightlife, Crime and Characters

  • Weegee, The Critic, 1943 (Sold Together with Another Print). Starting Bid $8,000.
    Weegee covered the beginning of the opera season in New York every year. In 1943 he sent a friend to Sammy's on the Bowery, a notorious bar, to recruit an inebriated woman. By standing the woman at the entrance of the Metropolitan Opera he had everything he needed for a shot that expertly juxtaposed the enormous wealth of Mrs. George Washington Kavanaugh and Lady Decies with stark, wartime poverty – even if the photograph was entirely staged.

  • Weegee, Selected Images of Crime Scenes, each Circa 1940 (Sold Together with Three Other Prints). Starting Bid $4,800.
    It is rumoured that Arthur Fellig acquired the name Weegee (a reference to Ouija the popular board game) early in his career. The name referred to his uncanny ability to arrive quickly at crime scenes. This was actually due to the fact that in the late 1930s he became one of the first civilians allowed to install a police radio in his car!  

  • Weegee, Selected Images of Sammy's on the Bowery, 1944 (Sold Together with Two Other Prints). Starting Bid $4,000.
    According to LIFE magazine in December 1944, “Among the flop houses and missions you'll find Sammy's Bowery Follies, No. 267 on the Bowery, 'the poor man's Stork Club.' It is a haven for derelicts and a hangout for the well heeled. Entertainment is provided by not only the 'past-their-prime' vaudevillians, but also by the frowzy men and blowzy women." 

  • Weegee, Selected Images of Sleepers on Fire Escapes, 1941 (Sold Together with Another Print). Starting Bid $2,400.
    The caption in the newspaper PM Daily on 23 May, 1941 told how Weegee “. . . found these children sleeping on a tenement fire escape at Irving and Rivington Streets. Weegee says he gave the kids $2 for ice cream. But their father took charge of the dough.”

  • Weegee, A Thief Dressed as a Woman (Sold Together with Another Print). Starting Bid $4,000.
    Weegee enjoyed shooting those arrested as they were taken out of the paddy wagon (the “Pie Wagon,” as he called it) or in the police station waiting to be booked. This man was arrested for robbery...dressed as a woman.

  • Weegee, Women at Jazz Club (Sold Together with Two Other Prints of Concert Audiences). Starting Bid $1,600.
    Weegee often visited concerts and jazz clubs to shoot audiences caught in the moment of enjoying the music. These two women were captured at a concert in Harlem in the 1940s.

  • Weegee, A Stitch in Time, Circa 1940 (Sold Together with Another Print of New York and Coney Island). Starting Bid $4,000.
    A Stitch in Time appeared in a PM Daily story on 9 June, 1941. Weegee said, “I don't know how Mama happened to bring along a needle and thread, but I didn't pose the picture. You don't have to do that to get amusing pictures at Coney. I go out every summer to photograph the crowds. They're always the same and always different. One difference from 1910 and yesterday was the number of soldiers in uniform on boardwalk, looking over the gals on the sand.”

  • Weegee and a Performer at Sammy’s, 1944 (Sold Together with Another Print). Starting Bid $4,000.
    “I have no inhibitions and neither does my camera.” –Weegee


More from Sotheby's

We use our own and third party cookies to enable you to navigate around our Site, use its features and engage on social media, and to allow us to perform analytics, remember your preferences, provide services that you have requested and produce content and advertisements tailored to your interests, both on our Site as well as others. For more information, or to learn how to change your cookie or marketing preferences, please see our updated Privacy Policy & Cookie Policy.

By continuing to use our Site, you consent to our use of cookies and to the practices described in our updated Privacy Policy.