Miety Heiden alongside Damien Hirst's Mercuric Thiocyanate, 2007, in London.
Phillips' private sales division first launched in 2018. The curated program exhibits some of the world’s most sought-after works from the 20th and 21st centuries, informed by the company’s understanding of what the market demands and with a focus on approachable works that appeal to multiple types of collectors. Miety Heiden, a Deputy Chairman at Phillips, is also the Head of Private Sales and director of Phillips X, our private selling exhibition platform. Often ahead of the curve set by the art world’s major institutions, our private sales team has established a pattern of tapping into the zeitgeist and sourcing works that are underrepresented in the secondary market.
Last January in New York, Phillips responded to exploding demand for previously-ignored black artists with a group show entitled American African American. In the first traveling exhibition for Phillips X, Foujita/Sanyu: Muses & Models went on view in both Paris and Hong Kong. Last summer, Phillips X held an exhibition in New York entitled NOMEN: American Women Artists from 1945 to Today, as well as HYSTERICAL in collaboration with set designer Gary Card in London. And earlier in 2020, 10 Monkeys and a Dolphin brought forth exceptional works by ever-popular street artists Banksy and KAWS.
Now, Phillips is moving beyond physical exhibitions to offer works for private sale digitally through our online viewing room. We sat down with Ms. Heiden to find out more about this latest development, and her role directing private sales at Phillips.
PHILLIPS: How did you begin your career in the art world?
MIETY HEIDEN: I’m originally from the Netherlands, and I started my career in the art world at a small Dutch auction house in 1992. I got a job at the Sotheby’s Amsterdam office in 1997 and moved to New York City in 2005.
P: What brought you to Phillips?
MH: After 18 years with Sotheby’s, I joined Phillips in 2017. I liked the idea of building up an auction house to function for the 21st century—something that could be truly different from the other major players.
P: How have you seen the relationship between auction houses, galleries, and art fairs change over the course of your career?
MH: I’ve seen this dynamic change immensely. The entire market has become much more global, thus the fairs, auction houses and galleries are far more intertwined with one another. Also, the buyers have become much more educated and sophisticated over the years because of the access they have to information on the internet.
P: How do you see the role of private sales growing at Phillips in the next few years?
MH: I see a huge potential for growth in this area. In the past, Phillips was not really focusing on private sales, and now we’ve created a platform for both online and offline sales where we can connect with clients 365 days a year. Auctions will always be a key part of our business, but there’s been a growing movement to engage with collectors more than just a few days a year. Again, as the market goes global, the demand just keeps rising, and we want Phillips to be there to meet it.
Banksy: The Authentic Rebel on view in Taipei.
P: What have been some of your biggest successes and challenges as you’ve expanded the Phillips X program internationally (spanning New York, London, Paris, Hong Kong, Taipei, and Geneva)?
MH: Perhaps our biggest success so far has been our series of Bansky shows around Asia, with over 25,000 visitors and almost every work sold. Our Carlos Cruz-Diez show in London and the American African American show in New York were also quite successful. The biggest challenge was spreading the word that we have this initiative in addition to our auction business, but overall, I’m very happy with what we have achieved in the last few years.
P: Tell us a little bit more about the newly-launched online viewing room.
MH: Our clients at Phillips have been moving online for quite some time now. In our auctions, they register and bid online and we've seen explosive growth in the value of works sold online. Just last November, a painting by Sean Scully sold for over $1.7 million to an online bidder during our New York Evening Sale. Just as we have with our slate of exhibitions, we've created this platform to meet collectors where they are, year-round. We began this program with great artists such as Tracey Emin, Lucian Freud, Yayoi Kusama, KAWS and more. We're adding new works to the online viewing room on a daily basis and, at present, they all stay online for two weeks. This is an exciting development for our team and for Phillips as a whole.