Phillips made $1.3 billion in sales over the last year, the auction house said in a statement last week.
While the annual figure was a record for the house, it marked a mere 8 percent increase over the previous year’s result of $1.2 billion, which was a 32 percent increase from its pre-pandemic level in 2019.
In 2022, the house reported that it generated just over $1 billion from public auctions, marking only a small increase over last year’s figure of $993 million. However, its private sales channel performed well past the 2021 marker, bringing in an estimated $250 million as the house pivoted focus to modern art-selling exhibitions. That figure is up 20 percent over the 208.2 million the boutique house brought in through private sales last year.
The smallest of the three major houses — which already has headquarters in New York and London — spent the last year devoting resources to expanding its footprint, Cheyenne Westphal, Phillips global chairwoman, said in a statement, adding specialists in Korea and New York. It also opened a new branch in Los Angeles to reel in West Coast collectors, which account for 20 percent of the house’s U.S.-based clients.
Last year, Phillips CEO Stephen Brooks described the company’s bolstering presence in Asia as a “critical component,” of its strategy to expand sales. To that end, the company announced at the time that it would establish a new Hong Kong headquarters in the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority Tower — set to open in 2023. The space marked a new foray for the house in the market hub.
But, over the last year, the house saw a decline in sales in Asia. Across auction and private sales of art and luxury items, spanning wine, cars and jewelry, Phillips brought in HK $1.3 billion ($167 million) in Hong Kong. The figure is down 38 percent from 2021’s total of HKD $2.1 billion ($270 million).
The 2022 result shows a stalled period for the auction house in the Asia-Pacific region after a strong run in previous years. For example, its intake from sales in the region in 2021 nearly doubled its 2020 earnings, when it was still reaping profits from collaborating with China’s state-backed Poly Auction on public sales.
Phillips is not the only one to see a downturn in the Asia-Pacific region. Christie’s Asia-based sales contract brought in just $833 million, a 20 percent decrease from 2021. At Sotheby’s, Hong Kong–based sales accounted for $1.1 billion of the house’s sale total. It reported that figure matches its 2021 total (Sotheby’s did not disclose the exact result.)
Asian buyers account for 34 percent of the global spend across auction channels at Phillips. Its highest valued lot, a painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat that sold last in 2016 at auction, went to an Asian buyer during a Phillips New York sale in November for $85 million.