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Aug 20 2020

Phillips and Poly Auction to Hold Joint Hong Kong Sales

by Fion Tse

Phillips and Poly Auction Hong Kong are set to join forces in Hong Kong this coming November. Courtesy Phillips and Poly Auction Hong Kong.

Phillips and Poly Auction Hong Kong will hold collaborative day and evening sales of 20th Century and Contemporary Art in Hong Kong this November, as announced in an August 19 press release. The sales will take place in Admiralty’s JW Marriott hotel, and replace the marquee 20th Century and Contemporary Art sales of both houses, although specific dates and sale highlights are yet to be confirmed. 

This is the first collaboration between Phillips and Poly Culture Group, which owns Poly Auction Hong Kong and Beijing Poly International Auction, the latter China’s largest state-owned auction house. In the press release, Phillips CEO Edward Dolman said that the collaboration “marks a notable stage in our trajectory of growth and underscores Phillips’ commitment to expanding our presence further in [Asia].” Jiang Yingchun, CEO and director of Poly Culture Group, and chairman of Poly Auction, also commented that the joint venture will help with providing “cross-regional advantages” in addition to serving to combat the current market changes brought about by Covid-19.

Phillips expanded to Asia in 2015 with the establishment of its Hong Kong office, and has done well recently. Its 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design day and evening live sales in July sold 150 out of 161 lots and achieved HKD 272 million (USD 35 million), comparable to the prior season which raked in HKD 271 million (USD 34.8 million) with 127 out of 145 lots in November 2019. Meanwhile, Poly Auction Hong Kong was established in 2012 and has become a key contender in the city’s market. While its recent, 150-lot Modern and Contemporary Art Sale in July totalled only HKD 29 million (USD 3.7 million), the 2019 series achieved HKD 172.9 million (USD 22 million) in March 2019 across 119 lots and HKD 201 million (USD 25.9 million) across 74 lots in October.

The pandemic forced major auction houses to postpone sales during the second quarter of 2020. In Hong Kong, all of the live Spring sales were cancelled and not held until July. In the absence of live sales, many houses shifted to online auctions in addition to other creative initiatives. On June 29, Sotheby’s New York held its marquee Contemporary Art Evening Sale and Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale virtually, conducted remotely in London by auctioneer Oliver Barker who auctioneered to screens showing phone banks from Hong Kong, London, and New York. The two sales and one other single-owner sale achieved USD 363.2 million in total. Meanwhile, Christie’s held a relay format auction, ONE: A Global Sale of the 20th Century, on July 10. The live-streamed sale realized USD 420.9 million and was conducted consecutively in Hong Kong, Paris, London, and New York, and was presided by a different auctioneer in each city. 

Earlier on April 30, Christie’s and China Guardian announced a collaborative auction and exhibition series to be held in Shanghai in late September. Titled “2020+,” details about the sale have yet to be released.

Fion Tse is an editorial intern at ArtAsiaPacific.

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