Robert Frank photos from ‘The Americans’ to be sold by Ruth and Jake Bloom


A group of images from Robert Frank’s seminal photographic book “The Americans” that belong to Los Angeles-based collectors Ruth and Jake Bloom will be sold at an auction in New York in December.

Sotheby’s is expected to announce Monday that the sale, featuring 77 of the photos that the couple has purchased over the years, will take place Dec. 17 in New York.

The auction house said the photos will be sold individually and estimates that the collection will sell for between $2.5 million and $3.8 million.


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During the 1950s, the Swiss-born Frank traveled the U.S. taking photographs of postwar American life. “The Americans” was published in the U.S. in 1959.

The Blooms tried to collect all 83 photographs from Frank’s book, inspired by their fascination with the subject matter stemming from their own travels across the country. The couple displayed the photos in their home in Idaho.

“The truth of this is, when we started collecting more than 20 years ago, our hope was to put the whole collection together,” Ruth Bloom said in a recent interview. “We came up against a wall. We could not complete it.”

She added: “Now we decided that others should share in what we’ve done.” (The couple purchased 78 photos; their son currently has one of them.)

Jake Bloom is widely considered to be one of the most powerful attorneys in Hollywood. He and his law firm have represented numerous stars over the years, including Johnny Depp, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis.

His wife, Ruth, has run an art gallery and was a board member of the Museum of Contemporary Art in L.A.

Complete collections of “The Americans” exist in a handful of museums, including MOCA.

Christopher Mahoney, head of Sotheby’s photographs department, said that the Bloom photos represent “one of the most comprehensive groupings of ‘The Americans’ known to be in private hands.”

Highlights from the sale will be on view in Paris Nov. 9-13, San Francisco on Dec. 1, Los Angeles on Dec. 3 and in New York beginning Dec. 12.

A new documentary on Frank titled “Don’t Blink: Robert Frank” premiered at the New York Film Festival in October.

Twitter: @DavidNgLAT