Phillips CEO Stephen Brooks, who previously served as an executive at Christie’s, a larger competing house, has resigned. Brook’s departure comes two-and-half years after he was tapped to expand the London-based auction house’s global footprint and sales.
According to a statement from a Phillips representative, Brooks’ resignation is unrelated to a downturn in sales in the last year. Brooks officially resigned in December for “personal reasons,” according to a statement provided to ARTnews by Phillips executive chairman Ed Dolman, who served as CEO from 2014 to 2021.
Dolman, who oversees the house’s London-based board of directors, will take over leadership of global operations and “full responsibility” of the company’s management in the interim, according to a spokesperson.
The leadership change comes after Phillips saw parts of its business strained in the last year. The house reported a 15 percent decline for its global auction sales between 2022 and 2023. Meanwhile, its board decided against paying a dividend to the Russian owners of its holding company after reporting revenue losses from its UK sales in 2022, according to financial filings from October.
“Stephen has led the company through a remarkable period of growth during his tenure and his contributions have helped to build the infrastructure for Phillips’ continued success,” Dolman said in a statement. “I thank him for his many contributions to the company and wish him all the best.”
Brooks took up the position at Phillips, the smallest of the three major houses — which has headquarters in New York, London and Hong Kong— in April 2021.
Over the course of Brooks’ nearly three-year term at Phillips, he piloted the company through multiple pressure-points: recovering from the pandemic’s impact on sales and navigating the effects of the war in Ukraine that placed scrutiny on its Russian owners and their ties to the conflict. In an interview with ARTnews in September 2021 several months after coming on as Phillips CEO, he described the house as “a vastly changed organization” at the time he took over, after it grew three times in size in a five year period while it was under Dolman’s leadership.
Under Brooks, the house brought in a record $1.3 billion in sales in 2022, an 8 percent increase over the previous year’s result of $1.2 billion, a figure that was up 32 percent from its pre-pandemic level in 2019 before Brooks took over. Meanwhile, under Brooks, Phillips also expanded in Asia as they opened a new headquarters in Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District last March. However, the house reported a decline in sales there by 8 percent between 2021 and 2022.
With a background in finance, Brooks came to Phillips after departing his previous role at Christie’s as its deputy chief executive in 2020. During his eleven-year tenure at Christie’s, he oversaw varying levels of its business operations, helping to structure complex financial deals around some of Christie’s more valuable lots.
Phillips declined to comment on when the house expects to appoint a new CEO. Brooks could not immediately be reached for comment by ARTnews.
The post “Phillips CEO Stephen Brooks, Tapped to Grow House, Resigns After Two Years” by Angelica Villa was published on 01/15/2024 by www.artnews.com