Phillips’ Top Results in Q1


In Artprice’s fortnightly series of auction rankings identifying the Art Market’s primary trends – this week’s Friday Top article looks at the top 10 results hammered by Phillips during the first quarter of 2019.

Richter, Lichtenstein, Kippenberger, Basquiat, Brown, Wool and Kaws … Phillips is increasingly taking a leading position on the Contemporary Art market and managed to hammer eight 7-digit results in the first quarter of 2019. Artprice takes a brief look back over the company’s history which began more than 220 years ago…

Phillips in short…

Phillips was founded in London by James Christie in 1796 by the same man who founded Christie’s thirty years earlier. Fast forward to 1999… the company was acquired by LVMH group and its CEO Bernard Arnault, and the following year was merged with a private sales company owned by Simon de Pury and Daniela Luxembourg operating in Switzerland. In 2002, LVMH sold the majority of its stake in the group to de Pury and Luxembourg. Six years later, Phillips de Pury & Company sold the majority of its stake to the Russian Mercury Group, which took control of the company in 2013 and opened a new office in New York City as well as its London HQ. In addition to these two market epicentres, the company today organizes sales in Geneva and Hong Kong and is developing its business via offices located in Paris, Seoul, Antwerp, Moscow, Tokyo and Taiwan

N° 3 in the world

This global network has allowed Phillips to maintain its status as the 3rd largest Western auction operator behind Christie’s and Sotheby’s. In 2018, Phillips generated $654 million from Fine Art sales, a record high, up 39% on the previous year. Although far behind the performances of its two main competitors (Christie’s generated nearly 5 billion in 2018 and Sotheby’s nearly 4 billion) Phillips has posted particularly encouraging results, especially as its unsold rate is one of the lowest: 16% versus 22% and 24% for the two major competitors respectively. A major contributing factor to Phillips’ strength has been its concentration on Ultra-Contemporary creation, an explosive niche in which it has acquired a solid reputation. It has also diversified its activity with the organization of exhibitions (such as the current Foujita & Sanyu show), private sales and consulting services

After a record year…

Last year Phillips generated the best turnover in its auction history, hammering a number of major results for Modern artists, including $57.8 million for Pablo Picasso’s La Dormeuse (1932), and excellent results for top-selling Contemporaries like Basquiat. Indeed, in the case of Basquiat, Phillips generated one of the artist’s Top 10 results last year when it fetched $45.3 million for his canvas flexible (1984) on 17 May 2018. Basquiat also appears twice in the company’s top 10 results for the first quarter of 2019, but with much less spectacular results; the best being $2.5 million for Untitled (Velveeta) (c.1984). However… the results in this ranking were all hammered during the company’s March 7 sale in London. We will have to wait for the “big” sales in May to see if Phillips can beat the $20.4 million generated by Gerhard Richter’s Dϋsenjäger (1963) last year. For the time being, it’s anybody’s guess as its May sales catalogue has not yet been disclosed.


Rank Artist Hammer Price ($) Artwork Sale
1 Gerhard RICHTER (1932) 20 408 042 Dϋsenjäger 07/03/2019 Phillips, London
2 Roy LICHTENSTEIN (1923-1997) 6 986 626 Girl in Mirror 07/03/2019 Phillips, London
3 Martin KIPPENBERGER (1953-1997) 5 047 976 Ohne Titel (Meine Lügen sind ehrliche) 07/03/2019 Phillips, London
4 Jean-Michel BASQUIAT (1960-1988) 2 479 316 Untitled (Velveeta) 07/03/2019 Phillips, London
5 Cecily BROWN (1969) 2 305 881 Afrmed and Fearless 07/03/2019 Phillips, London
6 Giorgio MORANDI (1890-1964) 1 281 045 Natura morta 07/03/2019 Phillips, London
7 Christopher WOOL (1955) 1 241 629 Untitled 07/03/2019 Phillips, London
8 KAWS (1974) 1 123 378 MOVING THE MIRROR 07/03/2019 Phillips, London
9 Jean-Michel BASQUIAT (1960-1988) 965 710 Untitled 07/03/2019 Phillips, London
10 Peter DOIG (1959) 918 411 “Slushy Landscape (with fgures)” 07/03/2019 Phillips, London
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