Russia’s Phillips Auction House will donate all net proceeds from its London sale – $7.7 million – to the Ukrainian Red Cross

Phillips, who announced this morning, March 3, that she would be donating the entire net proceeds of her 20th Century and Contemporary Art auction in London to the Ukrainian Red Cross, raised £5.8 million ($7.7 million) for the organization.

Prior to the event, the auction house had estimated that the 41 lots in the sale would fetch a total of around £24.5-35.4 million ($32.5-47 million). In particular, four batches were withdrawn from the range just before the start of the sale, and another work was removed after the start of the event.

“They haven’t generated the interest we anticipated and we’ve decided to pull the lots accordingly,” a Phillips rep said. (A full report of the auction will be published this evening by Artnet News.)

“The Ukrainian Red Cross is doing an incredible job of supporting and protecting people in the area, and we hope that the buyer’s bonus and seller’s commission from tonight’s evening sale will help this amazing charity as ‘She continues her lifesaving work,’ Stephen Brooks, CEO of Phillips, said in a statement this morning.

Calculated on a sliding scale, buyer premiums can be between 14.5 and 26% of the hammer price of a lot; sellers’ fees (or sellers’ commissions), meanwhile, vary from lot to lot and are often based on related expenses such as insurance, transport, catering and catalog photography. Referral fees are often waived for large customers or trophy bundles.

A source familiar with the sale told Artnet News that Phillips had promised at least one seller 50% of the buyer’s premium to guarantee their shipment, meaning not all costs went to the auction house. auction to start. (The $7.7 million total also pulls back the curtain on how much money Phillips would have made from the event, reminiscent of the thin margins on which many auction houses operate.)

The decision to return the profits to the The Ukrainian Red Cross came under pressure from some collectors boycott Phillipswho since 2008 is owned by Mercury Group, a Moscow-based luxury retail company founded by Leonid Fridlyand and Leonid Strunin.

Earlier this week, a spokesperson for the auction house told Artnet News that “The owners of Phillips are not subject to sanctions and have no ties to any individuals or institutions that may be directly or indirectly included on any sanctions list.”

The company also reaffirmed that it does not do business with anyone subject to sanctions.

Earlier this week, Phillips also posted a statement on his Instagram account denouncing Russia’s actions. “At Phillips, we unequivocally condemn the invasion of Ukraine,” the message said, quoting Brooks.

“Like the rest of the art world, we have been shocked and saddened by the tragic events unfolding in the region. We call for an immediate cessation of all hostilities in the strongest possible terms.”

Still, the statement did not satisfy everyone in the industry.

Matthew Girling, the former head of auction house Bonhams, told the art diary that collectors should avoid Phillips.

“I am happy [Brooks] said that, but ultimately it’s just words,” Girling said hours before Phillips made his donation announcement.

“More vigorous measures must be taken to try to stop what is happening in Ukraine. Only a boycott of Phillips sales will attract the attention of the world and Mercury owners to hopefully influence Putin to change his current course of action.

Girling could not immediately be reached for further comment after Phillips announced his multi-million dollar donation.

Earlier this week, a lawyer who advises notable collectors also expressed some concerns about the optics of doing business with the auction house.

“Can Phillips assure us of greater transparency regarding their ownership?” he asked Artnet News.

“Even if it’s fine, is it optically correct for me? Will buyers go to a Russian auction house or am I better off putting it up for sale at Sotheby’s or Christie’s?”

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