Phillips and China-based Poly auction will jointly stage their 20th century and contemporary auctions in Hong Kong this November. The day evening sales will take place in the JW Marriott in the Central Business District.
“As Asia continues to rise as an important art market region, this mutually beneficial partnership will enable Phillips to establish a broader foothold across Greater China,” said Ed Dolman, Phillips CEO, “whilst offering Poly our global reach and expertise.” The collaboration between Poly auction, a giant in the region, and Phillips and is a first. It comes on the heels of the appointment of Jonathan Crockett as Phillips regional Chairman in May. The joint effort also marks a concerted effort to tap into the mainland China client base.
The news follows Christie’s announcement in May of their partnership with privately-owned China Guardian — Poly’s main competitor— for a series of selling exhibitions in Shanghai. Hong Kong now hosts annual sales of $11.7 billion which accounts for 18% of global market share, according to the 2020 edition of the UBS Global Art Market Report.
“The art auction industry is currently undergoing significant changes and we are witnessing a constant stream of breakthrough innovations and exciting collaborations” noted Jiang Yingchun, CEO and Director of Poly Culture Group, Chairman of Poly Auction.
The move marks a crucial attempt among auction house executives to reassure consignors as the global economy continues its recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic’s impact. “This presents a unique opportunity for consignors to leverage the combined client base and marketing reach of two of the world’s biggest auction houses” said Jonathan Crockett, Chairman, Phillips Asia in a statement.
Wang Wei, Director of Beijing Poly International Auction Co. Ltd added that the partnership between the two auction houses is an expansion of Poly’s strategy to cultivate a global presence. “In addition to being a leading player with significant market share in the Chinese art domain,” Wang said, “Poly Auction has also emerged as a cross-regional and cross-cultural platform bridging the East and the West.”
Relative to its competitors, Phillips is new to the Asian art market, with its Hong Kong headquarters established in 2015. Since then, Phillips has consistently increased its total sales in the region each year. Most recently in July 2020, Phillips’ contemporary art and design auctions in Hong Kong generated HK$272 million ($35 million), marking a high point in the art category for the house. In May, Phillips reported the region has seen its sales volume increase by 195% from 2016 to 2019.
Established just fifteen years ago, Poly Auction is the leading seller of Chinese artworks internationally since 2010. Founded by China Poly Group, a state-backed conglomerate that owns a diversified set of companies, Poly Auction has become the third leading auction house worldwide. It reached the $1 billion milestone in annual sales in 2012 when it first established its Hong Kong headquarters, which to date accounts for 14% of their overall sales. In 2019, the company realized total sales of RMB 8.6 billion ($1.24 billion). According the UBS Global market report, this figure was down 8% from 2018, marking the second consecutive year of the house’s declining sales.