Following Christie’s and China Guardian’s announcement of their collaboration in Shanghai, another unprecedented partnership in the auction world has been revealed.
The auction houses Phillips and Poly Auction have announced that they will join forces in the upcoming November in conducting sales of 20th Century & Contemporary Art in Hong Kong. Not only will they share sale catalogues and preview venues, but they will also combine their sales. On top of that, the houses will also work together in broadening their global reach by leveraging their client base and strategies.
When the news of Christie’s and China Guardian forming alliance was released in May, many were shocked, as from an outsider’s point of view, auction houses are competitors rather than friends. In fact, the two houses are going to hold previews, talks and other events in the same venue, but sales will take place separately in different locations. To put it simply, the collaboration mainly concerns marketing rather than the actual sales.
The collaboration between Phillips and Poly Auction is, in comparison, on a much broader scale.
Before the sales, specialists from both parties will hold regular meetings to better understand their progress and discuss upcoming plans. Whether printed catalogues will be provided or not is still unknown as the pandemic has digitised a large part of the auction industry. However, information on whether the lots are offered by Phillips or Poly Auction will not be revealed.
The same applies to previews. Visitors will not know which auction house the artworks are from, but they can ask specialists from both parties about the works.
During the sales, the auctioneer will auction off the lots from both auction houses. Again, whether the work is from Phillips or Poly Auction will not be specified.
Nevertheless, private information of clients will not be shared between the two parties. Collectors can register with their preferred auction house, and bid regardless of who is offering the lot. For instance, if a client of Poly Auction acquires a work from Phillips, Poly Auction will first collect the charges and later pass them on to Phillips, and vice versa.
In terms of buyer’s premium, Phillips charges based on tiers of the hammer price while Poly Auction charges 18% of the hammer price for sales in Hong Kong. Details of fee arrangements for the sales have not been announced.
Both the preview and the sales will take place at JW Marriott hotel in Admiralty, Hong Kong
The 20th Century & Contemporary Art evening and day sales, as well as the preview, will take place at JW Marriott hotel in Admiralty, Hong Kong where Phillips has planned to hold their sale originally.
Traditionally, Phillips and Poly Auction organise their sales in different months. Take the autumn sales as an example, Phillips’ sales happen in late November while Poly Auction’s take place in early October. Due to the collaboration, Poly Auction has chosen to push back its Contemporary Art sale to late November.
Arrangements on Poly Auction’s other sales, such as Antiques and Chinese Paintings and Calligraphy, have yet to be announced.
Wu Guanzhong’s The Zhou Village sold for HK$236m (US$30m) at Poly Auction Hong Kong in 2016
Contemporary art is a hotly contested area in the art world, especially in the current climate. Most contemporary art sales, in comparison to other sale categories, have seen less negative impact of the pandemic. Phillips and Poly Auction’s collaboration is bound to become a highlight of this year’s Hong Kong autumn sale.
In fact, both houses have their own strengths in different areas of modern and contemporary art. Poly Auction excels in Asian Modern art, with paintings by Wu Guanzhong and Zao Wou-Ki selling for millions of dollars. Wu Guanzhong’s The Zhou Village was sold at Poly Auction for HK$236m (US$30m) in 2016 and the record has yet to be broken.
Phillips Hong Kong has had exceptional performances in Western Contemporary art, particularly in making a name for up-and-coming artists in the auction industry. In the autumn sales last year, Eddie Martinez’s personal auction record was set three times at Phillips. Both Daniel Arsham and Genieve Figgis’ personal records were broken in the same sale and have not been smashed still.
From a collector’s perspective, Poly Auction is one of mainland China’s two giant auction houses which allows Phillips to connect with the most notable collectors in the country. On the other hand, Phillips has over 200 years of history and has built an excellent reputation in New York and London which can undoubtedly benefit Poly Auction’s expansion into the global market.
Daniel Arsham’s auction record was set at Phillips and has yet to be broken
Below are official statements from Phillips and Poly Auction.
Edward Dolman, CEO of Phillips, said, “We feel that now is the perfect moment for Phillips to seize the initiative in launching this historic collaboration with China’s leading auction house. 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, whilst offering Poly our global reach and expertise. This collaboration marks a notable stage in our trajectory of growth and underscores Phillips’ commitment to expanding our presence further in this important market.”
Jonathan Crockett, Chairman, Phillips Asia, said, “Innovation is in Phillips’ DNA and we are excited by the opportunity to partner with Poly this season. This unique initiative starts now; our specialists teams will work together to assemble and stage an unrivalled series of 20th Century & Contemporary Art auctions this November.
We trust that our loyal clients, who have consistently supported our auctions and strategy in Hong Kong - enabling us to see consistent growth up to this year, our fifth anniversary in Hong Kong - will fully embrace this initiative, just as we believe Poly’s loyal following in China and beyond will also show full support. 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.”
Jiang Yingchun, CEO and Director of Poly Culture Group, Chairman of Poly Auction, said, “We are delighted that Poly Auction and Phillips will be jointly presenting our Fall 20th Century & Contemporary Art auctions. The art auction industry is currently undergoing significant changes and we are witnessing a constant stream of breakthrough innovations and exciting collaborations. The Poly Group has high hopes for this collaboration between two auction industry giants. Each play an influential role in their respective region and stand to benefit from the cross-regional advantages and enhanced influence this opportunity presents. We look forward to bringing collectors and art enthusiasts around the globe a large and diverse auction offering this coming Fall.”
Wang Wei, Director of Beijing Poly International Auction Co. Ltd., said, “This year marks the 15th anniversary of Poly Auction. Over the years, we have been part of the growth of the flourishing Chinese Art market and this partnership with Phillips marks another milestone in our history. In addition to being a leading player with significant market share in the Chinese art domain, Poly Auction has also emerged as a cross-regional and cross-cultural platform bridging the East and the West. Faced with significant changes in the way art is traded and development of the market environment this year, the opportunities raised by and implications of our partnership with Phillips are unprecedented and cannot be overstated.”
Alex Chang, Managing Director of Poly Auction (Hong Kong), added, “Over the past nine years, Poly Auction Hong Kong has ceaselessly pursued innovation and diversity across our platform. The upcoming Fall auctions will showcase the bountiful cultural heritage of both Poly Auction and Phillips. We look forward to establishing closer ties with collectors from around the world.”