Phillips Hikes Fees Amid Global Expansion and Hiring Spree

The old fees had been in place for three years.

Phillips' 450 Park Avenue headquarters. Photo courtesy Phillips.
Phillips' 450 Park Avenue headquarters. Photo courtesy Phillips.

Phillips has long wanted to provide stiffer competition to its larger counterparts, Christie’s and Sotheby’s, as a leading auctioneer. Now the house is raising the fees that it charges buyers in an effort to increase its revenues.

Starting May 16, the house will charge 25 percent of the hammer price on works up to and including $200,000 (or £100,000); 20 percent of the portion of the hammer price above $200,000 (or £100,000) up to and including $3 million (or £1.8 million); and 12 percent of the portion of the hammer price above $3 million (or £1.8 million).

That’s an increase from the old structure, which had been in place since April 2013, in which the house charged 25 percent up to and including $100,000, 20 percent of the portion of the hammer price above $100,000 up to and including $2 million, and 12 percent of the portion of the hammer price above $2 million. While Phillips’s new fees bring them in line with Sotheby’s, Christie’s fees remain the same as Phillips’s old ones.

Thus, a work that sold for a hammer price of $5 million, under the old structure, would have incurred a buyer’s fee of $765,000, while, under the new structure, the fee would be $850,000. The hike will apply to the house’s departments of 20th-century and contemporary art, design, editions, jewels, Latin American art, and photographs. The only category exempt from the price hike will be watches.

Phillips' facility at Berkeley Square, London. Photo courtesy Phillips.

Phillips’ facility at Berkeley Square, London. Photo courtesy Phillips.

The house has been on a hiring spree lately, including ex-Christie’s staffers Jean-Paul Engelen, Hugues Joffre, and Robert Manley, former Sotheby’s worldwide head of contemporary art Cheyenne Westphal, and former Sotheby’s Asia director Jonathan Crockett, among others.

Under the tenure of CEO Edward Dolman, who took the helm at Phillips in July 2014, the auctioneer, founded in 1796, has announced plans to expand to Hong Kong; in 2014, it expanded to London. Dolman also hired ex-Brooklyn Museum director Arnold Lehman in summer 2015.


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