Contemporary Art Market Karma at Phillips de Pury Pt. 3 – artmarketblog.com
My last two posts, parts one and two of ‘Contemporary Art Market Karma at Phillips de Pury’, provided an insight into the way auction house Phillips de Pury approach the contemporary art market niche that they have chosen to pursue. With this post, the last of this series, I am going to focus on what I believe will be the reason that Phillips de Pury will see continued success into the future.
As the market for contemporary art continues to be buoyed by the introduction of new sub-markets that are defined primarily by geography and culture, dealers and auction houses operating within the contemporary art market are discovering new ways of profiting from the market for contemporary art. What makes the ever increasing range of possible sources of profit within the contemporary art market so significant for a business like Phillips de Pury is that the demise of one source of profit can easily and quickly be replaced with another source of profit. With so many sub-markets of the contemporary art market operating at the one time it is likely that there will always be a profitable sub-market within which an auction house like Phillips de Pury can operate. Take, for example, the first ever BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) auctions held by Phillips in 2010 and repeated in 2011. Although each of these sub-markets is profitable in its own right, by combining all four into one sale Phillips have found a safer and more profitable way of approaching each of these sub-markets.
Although the BRIC auctions held by Phillips de Pury are so enticing because they combine the strengths of four major art market forces, Phillips have also found that they can shift the focus onto one particular sub-market should the others not do as well as planned. Speaking about the 2011 BRIC sale, Henry Allsopp, the Worldwide Director of Curated Sales and Exhibitions for Phillips, said: “With this auction we aim to show the new strength and depth of the Contemporary Art Market in Brazil, and the continuing upward trends of the Chinese, Indian and Russian markets.” Allsopp’s comment cleverly focuses on the Brazilian art market which was likely to be the most successful sub-market of the auction. Sure enough, Phillips de Pury & Co. found buyers for eight out of the 10 Brazilian works offered in the evening session of their 2011 BRIC sale. Although they only sold 53% by lot, Phillips were able to cleverly direct attention away from the poor overall results and towards the success of individual sub-markets. Allsopp’s post-sale comment was “China and Brazil continue to demonstrate strength with solid prices and world records and will continue to be markets where Phillips de Pury & Company consolidates its presence.”
Curated auctions are another way that Phillips are trying to expand the number of different avenues of profitability. Having pioneered the concept of “curated” auctions, Phillips de Pury are once again seeking to profit from the concept with ‘The World of Muriel Brandolini’, an interiors auction celebrating the life and work of decorator Muriel Brandolini which will take place in New York on the 21st of October 2011. The Brandolini auction will allow Phillips to once again profit from the profile of a highly regarded cultural icon and create a whole lot of hype surrounding the auction with the introduction of a number of associated events. According to Phillips: “A blaze of color on the fall calendar, Brandolini’s sale will include works from her wide-ranging collection of decorative arts, contemporary design and fine art, as well as examples of her own signature line of furniture”.
**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of http://www.artmarketblog.com, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications.
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