Phillips was 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 Marie Antoinette, 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, and remains the only auction house ever to have held a sale inside Buckingham Palace.
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."
Owned since 1999 by LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Phillips was acquired in 2003 by the international art experts, Simon de Pury and Daniella Luxembourg, having previously merged with their Swiss-based firm, de Pury and Luxembourg Art. At this time the firm’s global headquarters are established in the heart of New York’s gallery and arts district, Chelsea. The 31,000 square foot loft gallery and saleroom have soaring 50-foot ceilings and panoramic views of the Hudson River and lower Manhattan.
Most recently in March 2004, the Chairman- Simon de Pury- acquired majority control of the firm, now renamed Phillips de Pury & Company, and under his leadership Phillips continues to give new life to its Founder’s vision. Trust, expertise and integrity remain the values upon which this business is based – a business that aims at all times to provide its clients with the best advice and the highest quality works of art.
Phillips has offices in New York, London, Geneva, Paris, Munich and Berlin. Phillips conducts auctions in New York, London and Geneva in the areas of Contemporary Art, Photography, 20-21st Century Design Art and Jewelry. Phillips also handles private treaty sales and art advisory services including building private collections.