Phillips de Pury & Co. has entered into a strategic partnership with a leading Russian luxury company, the Mercury Group. The Mercury Group will acquire control of the company from the partners of Phillips de Pury & Co. and Simon de Pury will remain as chairman and "an important shareholder in the company", according to the company's press release on the matter.
Preliminary discussions between Phillips de Pury & Co. and the Mercury Group began in July 2007 and concluded just over a year later, with a comprehensive agreement to further the scope of the business.
In its press release, Phillips de Pury & Co. claims to have had 80% growth from half year 2007/2008 in sales volume in contemporary art auctions alone, although the percentage for other areas of the company went unreported and were suspected to be much lower or even negative. Profits (if any) went unreported. Phillips de Pury & Company operates across four selling platforms: auctions, private treaty sales, selling exhibitions and building private collections in the collecting categories of contemporary art, photographs, design, editions and jewelry. Its entrance as a direct competitor to photography galleries has created some ill feelings in the trade, as well as its rotating-door approach for its photography department heads.
Mercury Group is Russia's largest luxury retail company whose holdings include The Tretyakov Projezd, the Barvikha Luxury Village and TSUM department store, high-end retail properties in the Moscow area that house fashion and jewelry brands such as Gucci, Prada, Giorgio Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Rolex and Graff, as well as showrooms for Ferrari, Maserati and Bentley. It is not the first time a luxury company has entered the auction field.