As auction houses look for new ways to maintain their existing relationships with buyers, Phillips announced that it will create an art advisory service, Phillips Art Advisory (PAA), that will help clients in a range of needs from acquisitions to collection management. Kevie Yang, an international specialist at the house, will head up the new advisory service, focusing on helping clients acquire works by contemporary artists on the primary market and building their collections over a long period of time.
In an interview with ARTnews, Yang said the advisory firm was established in order to aid clients by serving as “on-the-ground” points of contact for sourcing works outside of auctions or private sales on the secondary market. She added, “It’s very bespoke to every client.”
To do this, Phillips specialists will work directly with galleries—and, in some cases, artists—to purchase works before anyone else does. Yang’s team will recommend new artists to clients, and also advise them on the negotiating process for primary market purchases. (Galleries are known to give loyal collectors varying discounts at times.)
The approach reflects Phillips’s attempt to meet increasing demand among collectors to source works by emerging and mid-career artists in high demand on the primary market, before their prices begin to skyrocket on the secondary market. Yang said that she sees the formation of PAA as mutually beneficial for galleries and Phillips, and not in direct competition with one another, as the auction house will also look to bring new clients to dealers.
Acquiring work by some of today’s most in-demand contemporary artists can often be difficult as they usually have a low supply of work relative to the long wait lists to buy their art. Yang said that PAA plans to leverage Phillips’ expansive international network of specialists to view and source works for clients in various cities and to help clients acquire them.
PAA will also provide market research and appraisals, as well as advise on museum philanthropy. The auction house will also use outside financial partners to aid clients in fine art lending, where collectors use their holdings as collateral for lines of credit. (Phillips declined to name the financial institutions that would be involved.)
Yang, who joined Phillips in 2015, said that PAA will grow slowly. At the moment, the internal team is made up of three people, including Phillips deputy chairman Robert Manley, who will provide senior support. The branch will also serve a small group of collectors; it currently has two clients, established collectors in Asia who have bought works for over $1 million each. PAA is in talks to work with an additional two to three clients in the U.S.
Part of the reasoning for the creation of PAA, Yang said was the cancelation of major art fairs and barred international travel caused by pandemic restrictions has spurred demand for an in-house advisor, particularly for Asia-based clients. “We definitely see the need coming out of Asia,” she said. “They feel a lot of disconnect between them and the market. They need someone on the ground to be their eyes and ears.”
Earlier this year, Phillips launched another initiative that offers bespoke services for its clients focused on living artists, when they acquired the tech platform, Articker, which tracks trending emerging artists by media share that is used by specialists and Phillips’ collectors.
The establishment of PAA, which will charge an undisclosed fee to clients, appears to continue the house’s aims to look for ways to source revenue outside secondary market sales. Yang added, “Clients want to work with an advisor who they trust to build collections beyond what they can buy at auction.”