Kelly Crow reports on the launch of Phillips de Pury’s new round of sales. For a house that has made a reputation by opening auction markets for contemporary artists without previous auction sales, the plan actually makes more than a little sense. Indeed, it may be a harbinger of a broader auction market for art at lower price points. Can Phillips create a market strata out of work that exists somewhere between the mid-season sales (which are rapidly approaching, by the way) and marquee sales? It’ll be interesting to see. Here we have some doubts expressed both inside Phillips and out:
“Phillips is the bridesmaid of the auction world,” said Richard Polsky, a private dealer in Sausalito, Calif. “It always wants to be seen as lively, nimble and fun—but now it also needs to be profitable.”
The new themed sales will double the workload for the house’s 150-member staff, which must continue to win business for its established sales while stocking works for the new ones. (Mr. Runge says he’s planning to hire some part-time curators to help out.) Michael McGinnis, Phillips’ worldwide head of contemporary art, said he initially wondered whether his team could cull enough pieces for the extra sales. Collectors don’t like to sell in lean times unless they have to.
“I’m a pretty conservative guy, so of course I have reservations,” Mr. McGinnis said, “but I’m learning there is enough material out there if the venue is there and the prices are fair. We’ll just have to see what the market will absorb.”
Doubling Down on the Art Market (Wall Street Journal)