Phillips de Pury & Company  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Phillips de Pury & Company is an auction house and art dealership, with offices in New York, London, Geneva, Berlin, Brussels, Los Angeles, Milan, Munich and Paris. Phillips conducts auctions in New York, London and Geneva in the areas of Contemporary Art, Photography, 20-21st Century Design, Art and Jewellery. Phillips also handles private treaty sales and art advisory services including building private collections.

The company originated as the London auction house of Phillips, founded in London by Harry Phillips, a young entrepreneur. In 1796 he opened his own auction house after resigning as the senior clerk to James Christie. During his first year of business, Phillips conducted 12 auctions. Success came quickly. Soon, the business was conducting sales for all the famous and distinguished people of the day including Beau Brummel and Napoleon.

To win clients Phillips combined business acumen with a flair for showmanship, introducing new ways to promote his sales such as elaborate evening receptions before important auctions - an essential part of the auction business today. Phillips quickly gained the confidence of the British aristocracy.

When he died in 1840, Harry Phillips passed on a strong and successful business to his son, William Augustus. In 1879, William changed the firm's name to "Messrs Phillips & Son." In 1882 this in turn became "Phillips, Son & Neale" when he brought his son-in-law, Frederick, into the business, and that name continued until the 1970s when the firm returned to "Phillips."

From 1999 to 2003 Phillips was owned by LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton. After a series of disastrous sales and extremely heavy losses Bonhams bought the UK operations of Phillips in 2001 and rebranded them under the Bonhams name. Most of the rump of the business was closed with smaller departments acquired by the international art dealers Simon de Pury and Daniella Luxembourg, and continued under the name Phillips de Pury & Company. In March 2004, the Chairman, Simon de Pury, acquired majority control of the firm.

In 1999, Phillips Auctioneers was bought by the French luxury goods brand, LVMH and Simon de Pury & Daniela Luxembourg, private dealers of Impressionist, Modern and Post-War art, were appointed to run the company which was renamed Phillips, de Pury & Luxembourg. In 2004, Simon de Pury, took majority share of the business and focussed the specialist fields to works of the modern and contemporary eras. The new company, Phillips de Pury & Company has continued to grow and successful introduce the best of new art talent to the secondary market as well as hosting a significant range of selling shows for contemporary artists and designers. The company has opened its new European headquarters in Howick Place London in early 2008.

On October 6, 2008, the company was purchased by the Russia-based Mercury Group. In order to acquire a majority share in the company, Mercury paid approximately $60 million, though the actual transaction was private. "Around 50 percent" of the money was used to cover Phillips’s debt. Mercury is run by Leonid Friedland and his associate, Leonid Strunin.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Phillips de Pury & Company" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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