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After a few years as a clerk at Christie's, Harry Phillips creates his own auction house in 1796. The success of the house comes from art collectors such as Marie-Antoinette, Napoléon and Beau Brumelle and from promoting auctions with marketing events just like auction houses do nowadays. After three generations of Phillips leading the company, the company is known as Phillips, the auctioneers. Before being acquired by Mercury group, a Russian group, in 2008, it was owned by Bernard Arnaud (LVMH), then Simon de Pury and Daniela Luxembourg. The house is specialised in contemporary and modern art auctions.

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Phillips is proudly the only auction house to have held an auction in Buckingham Palace.
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