Phillips Puts Itself First on the Fall Contemporary Art Auction Calendar

Is the house trying to avoid getting lost in the shuffle?

Phillips New York.
News of the resignation comes amid executive restructuring at the auction house. Photo:

Phillips, which has lately been adding to its roster of specialists at a furious pace, is the latest auction house to make adjustments to its sales schedule for the fall New York season now that Christie’s is sticking with the major changes it first implemented this past spring.

Phillips quietly bumped up its contemporary evening sale to Sunday, November 8, from its usual Thursday slot. Now, instead of its sale being held after powerhouses Sotheby’s and Christie’s have held their respective sales, Phillips will be the house that kicks off the contemporary week. Also unusual is its decision to hold the sale on a Sunday. For the past few decades, major evening sales have typically only been held on weeknights in New York.

In response to questions about the shift, a Phillips spokesperson wrote artnet News that the Sunday placement “will ensure the sale can take place at a dedicated time within a demanding auction schedule in New York in November.”

This is undoubtedly a reference to Christie’s category and calendar shake-up which has left the second week of November as one of the busiest—if not the busiest—as far as major auctions are concerned. Whereas Sotheby’s and Christie’s have typically spread their major Impressionist and contemporary sales over a two-week span each May and November, Christie’s changed up the game by creating a new hybrid evening sale last year, featuring both Impressionist and contemporary art.

For Phillips, which does not hold Impressionist auctions, and typically holds one smaller contemporary sale during that second week of November, this posed a risk of getting lost in the shuffle. Now it seems the house is taking measures to avoid that.

Under the leadership of Edward Dolman, who is a 27-year veteran of Christie’s, Phillips has announced a string of high-profile specialist hires who will undoubtedly bolster the company’s business-getting ability and its bottom line. Also new to this season’s sale is the house’s inclusion of 20th century as a category. Phillips did not have any specifics yet on what will be offered, however.

On Monday, November 9, Christie’s holds its hybrid Impressionist/modern and contemporary evening sale, this time titled “The Artist’s Muse: A Curated Evening Sale of 20th Century Art,” which will feature Amedeo Modigliani’s Nu Couché (Reclining Nude) (1917-18) at an estimate to “exceed $100 million,” Christie’s boasts.

Sotheby’s did not respond to request for comment, while a Christie’s representative emailed artnet News and declined to comment.


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