[private_subscriber][private_bundle]Christie’s and Sotheby’s may have been damaged by the recession, but Phillips has taken a far more serious blow than its competitors. Between Q1 2007 and Q2 2008, total sales and average prices from the house’s evening auctions rose steeply, growing at a greater rate than the increases at Christie’s and Sotheby’s (Figs. 3 & 4).
In this period, total sales at Phillips increased nearly sixfold from $8,969,654 to $51,773,860, and average prices went up by 700% (Fig. 4). By contrast, average prices at Sotheby’s and Christie’s rose by 350% and 200% respectively.
Despite its gains during the boom cycle, Phillips fell much harder after the bust: Between Q2 2008 and Q1 2009, Phillips’s average price sank from $924,533 to $143,760.
Over the subsequent quarters of 2009, the house improved that figure but the overall 2009 average of $192,296 still fell far below both its 2007 average of $369,687 and its 2008 average of $546,196.
Phillips’s difficulty in identifying which of its typical offerings have retained value is perhaps best demonstrated by its trouble with buy-in rates (Fig. 5). Although BI’s are usually higher at Phillips to begin with—they have been as steep as 60% over the past three years—in 2009 Phillips’s average BI rate was 40%, substantially more than Christie’s 14% and Sotheby’s 9%. These days the cutting-edge niche Phillips carved out for itself during the boom years is turning out to be more of a curse than a blessing.