How high can auction sales go? For the second time this week, an auction house is reporting record results as the global art and collectibles market continues to surge.

Following strong results reported by Christie’s at the start of the week, Phillips auction house said its global sales for the first half of 2022 hit $746 million, a substantial 37 percent increase as compared with the first half of 2021 (which was $542.7 million).

Auction sales were up, to $590 million, a 30 percent increase over the $452 million reported for the same period last year. And private sales were also up, to $156 million, a 72 percent increase. The spike in private sales is even more impressive considering that the major auction houses have largely returned to the usual annual sales calendar, albeit with more flexible dates, since most have embraced hybrid in-person and online sales formats.

Phillips CEO Stephen Brooks called it “a season of extraordinary growth… from hosting our most successful auction in company history to the announcements of our expansion in Hong Kong and Los Angeles.”

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled [detail] (1982), sold for $85,000,000 at Phillips "20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale," May 18, 2022. Image courtesy Phillips.

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled (detail, 1982), sold for $85,000,000 at Phillips “20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale,” May 18, 2022. Image courtesy Phillips.

Results included what Phillips counts as the highest-value lot in its history—the monumental untitled painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat from the collection of Japanese billionaire Yusaka Maezawa, which sold for $85 million in May. Notably Maezawa bought it for $57.3 million at Christie’s in 2016, when it was sold by New York collector-dealer Adam Lindemann.

Elsewhere, Phillips noted the strength of watch sales including “an unprecedented 18-month streak of selling every watch to appear at auction.” Watch auction sales accounted for $127.2 million of the first half total.

The auction house reports that 44 percent of buyers across online-only and live auctions were first-time buyers. And Phillips also underscored the importance of Asia in its continued growth, noting that 35 percent of the buyers based in Asia were millennial collectors.

Along with the robust results, Phillips announced the opening of its first Los Angeles outpost. A new gallery will open this fall on Nemo Street in West Hollywood, a move that reaffirms the importance of the West Coast in the global marketplace, according to a statement. The Los Angeles venue will host exhibitions devoted to traveling highlights from auctions in New York, London, Hong Kong and Geneva, as well as private selling exhibitions, panel discussions, and events.

Over the past six years, Phillips has invested significantly in the area, including its specialist team which now counts Blake Koh, as regional director, Rebekah Bowling as senior specialist and head of 21st-century art, and Meaghan Roddy, who is head of design for the West Coast.

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