Phillips has announced a strategic partnership with Chinese auction house Yongle. The two will be collaborating on a series of upcoming sales in Hong Kong and Beijing this winter. The joint auctions begin November 30-December 1 at Phillips Hong Kong for the 20th Century Design and Contemporary Art categories, and then continue in early December for a modern and contemporary art sale at Yongle in Beijing.
The two companies will showcase their sales to each other’s customers, with previews taking place in Beijing, Shanghai, Taipei, Taichung and Singapore. Overseas buyers can bid online for both Hong Kong and mainland China sales, a Phillips spokesman confirms. They add that Phillips will be able to “make some works available for Beijing sale as well, if appropriate.”
“Greater China [an informal geographical area that encompasses Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau] is a critical part of our growth strategy,” Phillips Chief Executive Stephen Brooks said in a statement.
So far, the collaboration is limited to these two sales, says a spokesman for Phillips. They add that the London-based auction house is open to various possibilities of working with Yongle in the near future, “but that there are no other solid plans at this time.”
When asked about the profitability of doing business in China, a Phillips spokesperson says, “Despite the ongoing challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, 2021 has been an expansion of arts infrastructure in China, according to Art Basel 2022 and UBS Global Art Market Report.” lockdowns and a collapsing real estate market in the mainland this year are also not a deterrent.”Each season, around 75% of our total sales of 20th Century Art & Design and Contemporary Art & Design in Hong Kong are made by Greater China buyers, with global activity of Mainland collectors has increased by 500% since opening an office in Shanghai in 2018 by 2021,” the spokesperson adds.
Phillips has doubled its presence in China in recent years after announcing last year that it would move its Hong Kong operations to a new, larger headquarters in West Kowloon Cultural District, which will open next spring.
Founded in 2005, Yongle has offices in 10 cities in eight countries. As of 2020, total sales have exceeded 7.7 billion Chinese yuan (US$1 billion) with 10 lots sold for over US$14 million. The Modern and Contemporary Art categories grossed $354 million in the same period, setting more than 50 records. However, the auction house has taken a hit this year along with the rest of China’s economy, with its spring 2022 sale raking in $135 million, down 43% from the corresponding 2021 sale, which brought in $316 million.
“We believe the strategic partnership with Phillips will further expand our global reach and create synergy by combining the resources and capabilities of both companies,” said Peng Zhaojun, Managing Director of Yongle Culture Group and Yongle Auction. “Through this strategic partnership, we will work together in multiple areas to increase brand awareness, gain access to new markets and grow business.”