Phillips has named Jean-Paul Engelen as its Americas President, a newly created role to follow his previous stint as deputy chairman. Since 2015, Engelen has also overseen the contemporary department with his co-head, Robert Manley, and he will continue to do so in his new role, in which he will oversee business strategies across offices and consultancies in the U.S. and South America.
In a statement, Phillips CEO Stephen Brooks described Engelen as “instrumental” in recent growth for the house, which saw its highest-grossing evening sale this past November in an auction that brought in $139 million. Brooks attributed part of the company’s rise to Engelen’s oversight of key specialists and a combined focus on blue-chip sales and emerging talent.
Under Engelen’s direction, Phillips’s modern and contemporary department saw its auction sales grow 72 percent globally since he joined the house six years ago. In an interview with ARTnews, Engelen said that, as the house expands its footprint in America, his aim is to maintain an “entrepreneurial spirit” among core specialists who have built a program of sales and collaborations that tap the primary market’s rising artists.
Engelen said the senior team hopes that Phillip’s new headquarters on Park Avenue, opened this past July, can serve as “a year-round art venue,” to help bolster the houses’s branding power. “I want us to be on par with the great brands that we deal with in the art space,” Engelen said, explaining that in order to level up, the house is aiming to “combine the strengths” of both its luxury and secondary art departments.
Prior to his tenure at Phillips, Engelen served as a director of the Qatar Museums, where he oversaw public art programming. Before his stint in Qatar, he held various positions in the contemporary department at Christie’s, where he spent 16 years and also worked alongside Manley.
Engelen’s rise in the ranks at Phillips comes as the boutique auction house, which competes against its larger peers Sotheby’s and Christie’s, expands its presence globally on the heels of one of its strongest financial year in its 225-year history. Following the recent flight among auction houses and mega-galleries to cultivate a growing base of collectors on the West Coast, Phillips is planning to open a new office in Los Angeles in the fall. The new space will be led by Blake Koh, Phillips regional director in Los Angeles.
In December, Phillips reported that it had made a record $1.2 billion in sales during the last year, marking a 32-percent increase over its pre-pandemic 2019 figure. The bullish end to the year struck a positive note for Brooks, who assumed his position as the house’s CEO in September, taking over from Edward Dolman. Shortly after, the house announced it would establish a new Asia headquarters in Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District this fall.