auction houses

Phillips, Sans Simon: What’s Next for Simon de Pury and Phillips Now That They’ve Parted Ways?

Mr. de Pury has not announced his future plans and did not return a request for comment (a tweet he sent out on New Year’s Eve seems to indicate that he spent the holiday in Punta del Este, Uruguay), but it is hard to imagine him putting down the gavel for good. It seems likely he will at the very least continue conducting sales for charity. During his time at Phillips, he became well-known for his dramatic performances on the charity auction circuit, notably at the annual summer fund-raiser for Robert Wilson’s Watermill Center in the Hamptons. And then there are his creative pursuits, such as his regular deejaying and his photographs, which he has shown most recently at luxe retailer Colette in Paris.

As for who will replace Mr. de Pury as chief auctioneer, “we are considering the options,” Mr. McGinnis said. “We have some good ideas.” Asked whether Ms. Neumeister would be replaced, he said that Phillips is “always looking for talents who can add a benefit in terms of revenue. It’s not an objective to replace anybody,” but there is an interest in hiring “people who can bring in key business.”

At Phillips, according to Mr. McGinnis, it’s full steam ahead. They will soon roll out a website that “simplifies and clarifies who we are.” Overall, he said, the objective is “to provide the best auction experience in 20th- and 21st-century art.” As CEO, he said, he will be “streamlining operations” and “making sure we can offer clients impeccable white-glove service.” In addition to opening a building on Berkeley Square in London, Phillips plans to expand its office and gallery space at its headquarters at 450 Park Avenue, a move that Mr. McGinnis characterized as a consolidation. “We still have the majority of our colleagues in the 15th Street space,” he said. “It will be great to have everyone under one roof.” Creating additional galleries, he said, will allow the company to better handle its “day sales and volume of design and edition sales.”

Mr. McGinnis added, “I want to bring the company to a profitable level for our shareholders.” That is something that has been a struggle for Phillips since the LVMH days. As for competition with the big two, “It’s always been my perspective that we can compete and in many cases offer better service,” he said. “Once we can get traction and win market share, we have a chance of being the preferred choice for auction.”