Phillips Announces New Hong Kong Headquarters
December 18th, 2021
Global auction house Phillips has revealed plans for a new Asia headquarters in Hong Kong. Expected to open in fall 2022, the flagship will occupy 48,000 square feet across five and a half floors in the city’s West Kowloon Cultural District Authority Tower overlooking Victoria Harbor, a stone’s throw from the newly inaugurated M+ museum of contemporary art.
The news comes on the heels of a significant jump in sales for the Russian-owned auction house, which raked in a record $1.2 billion in 2021, about 32 percent more than it generated in 2019. Private sales saw a 35 percent increase between 2019 and 2021, this year totaling $993.3 million, while private sales accounted for $208.2 million.
Phillips’s expansion in Hong Kong is unsurprising given the Asian art market’s continued rise and the global perception of Hong Kong as an arts hub despite increasing government censorship of artists there. An Artprice report issued this past fall showed Hong Kong to be second only to New York as a contemporary art capital, and China surpassing the US in terms of auction turnover, accounting for 40 percent of sales. Asian buyers accounted for 36 percent of all auction sales at Phillips this year, with the house reporting that half of its top ten lots sold to clients in the region.
The South China Morning Post reported that West Kowloon Cultural District Authority has not said how much Phillips will pay in rent for its conveniently situated new digs but acknowledged that the funds would finance district’s operation and development. The paper noted that the authority faced a sizable operating deficit at the end of fiscal 2020–21 with many cultural structures in the district remaining unbuilt.