Philips announced a strategic partnership with Chinese auction house Yongle. The two will collaborate on a series of highly anticipated sales this winter in Hong Kong and Beijing. Combined auctions at Phillips Hong Kong for categories of 20th Century Design and Contemporary Art will start from 30 November to 1 December and will continue at Yongle in Beijing selling modern and contemporary art in early December.
The two companies will introduce each other’s customers to their sales, with previews in Beijing, Shanghai, Taipei, Taichung and Singapore. Overseas buyers can bid online for both sales in Hong Kong and mainland China, a Philips spokesperson confirms. They add that Phillips will be able to “deposit some business in the Beijing sale as well if appropriate”.
“Greater China [an informal geographical area that encompasses Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau] It is a critical component of our growth strategy,” says Phillips CEO, Stephen Brooks in a statement. Working with Yongle on the ground will allow us to organize auction-related programs in Beijing and Shanghai, and directly serve this community by bringing the best of the 20th century West and emerging contemporary art to mainland China clients.”
So far, a Philips spokesperson says, cooperation is limited to these two sales. They add that the London-based auction house is open to various ways to collaborate with Yongle in the near future, “but there are currently no other strong plans at this time.”
When asked about the feasibility of doing business in China, a Philips spokesperson said: “Despite the ongoing challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, 2021 saw an expansion of China’s art infrastructure, according to the 2022 Global Art Market Report and UBS.” Lockdowns and the collapsed property market on the mainland this year are no deterrent either. “Each season, approximately 75% of our total sales in 20th Century, Contemporary Arts and Design in Hong Kong are accounted for by buyers from Greater China, with global collectors activity on the mainland increasing 500% by 2021 since opening an office in Shanghai in 2018,” the speaker adds.
In recent years, Philips has doubled its presence in China, after announcing last year that it would move its Hong Kong operations to a new, larger headquarters in the West Kowloon Cultural District that will open next spring.
Founded in 2005, Yongle operates offices in 10 cities in eight countries, and since 2020 has a total turnover of more than 7.7 billion yuan ($1 billion), with 10 contracts sold at more than $14 million. In the modern and contemporary art categories, it made $354 million during the same period, setting more than 50 records. However, the auction house has been hit hard this year, along with the rest of the Chinese economy: The Spring 2022 sale took in $135 million, down 43% from the equivalent 2021 sale, which brought in $316 million.
“We believe that the strategic partnership with Phillips will expand our global reach and create a synergistic effect by bringing together the resources and capabilities of the two companies,” says Peng Zhaojun, Managing Director of Yongle Culture Group and Yongle Auction. “Through this strategic partnership, we will work together in multiple areas to increase brand awareness, reach new markets, and grow the business.”