CULTURE

Phillips auction house comes to Athens, again

In an increasingly informal age, precious heirlooms and magnificent pieces of jewelry often end up in secret vaults, rarely seen, let alone worn. For some of their owners, selling becomes a valid option. Specialists in prestigious jewelry arrive Athens next week (September 18 and 19) as the Phillips, de Pury & Luxembourg auction house prepares for an international jewelry sale in Geneva in November. It will be the second time experts from Phillips have come to Greece to meet with sellers – and buyers – following another important international jewelry sale last June, and the house is confident that it is steadily building a relationship of trust with its developing, local clientele. (Note to potential clients: The visits focus on those willing to sell.) A prestigious auction house founded in London in 1796, Phillips was acquired by LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton in 1999, and merged with art dealers de Pury & Luxembourg Art in 2001. However, six months ago, Simon de Pury and Daniella Luxembourg took majority control of the company, though they still have luxury giant LVMH as one of their partners. With headquarters in New York and offices in Berlin, Geneva, London, Munich, Paris and Zurich, the auction house specializes, among other areas, in Impressionist, modern, contemporary, American and Swiss art, magnificent jewelry and watches, contemporary furniture and photographs. «In Greece, our research leads us to established families, whose members simply do not have the opportunity to wear very big pieces these days,» said Marina Lambridi, Phillips’s representative in Athens, to Kathimerini English Edition. «Greeks love jewelry, but some people have moved onto another stage in their lives. They are perhaps closer to nature than to grand receptions. It is usually not because of any financial need but because they simply don’t wear the items any more. On the other hand, there have been occasions where people have broken off an engagement, for instance.» Whatever the reason for letting go of a beautiful piece, Greece is becoming a market of interest to auction houses – and not just in the jewelry field. Phillips’s subsidiary Bonhams, for example, held a successful sale of Greek paintings in London in June, while Sotheby’s is busily preparing for yet another Greek sale at the beginning of October. At Phillips, November’s prestigious jewelry sale will feature pieces coming from Greece, Germany and the South of France, among others. A detailed catalog will be published prior to the sale. In Greece alone, representatives from Phillips have, so far, come across leading local and foreign names, such as the well-known houses of Ilias Lalaounis, Vourakis and Katramopoulos (as well as real vintage pieces from now-defunct houses such as Kelaidis). These have joined items from Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Chopard and Adler, to name a few. What is considered hot in jewelry these days? Lambridi noted a strong demand for art deco as well as design motifs taken from nature, such as insects. For more information, tel 010.325.0627.