Big changes afoot for Phillips Auction House


CEO Edward Dolman, appointed last year after a decade heading Christie’s, wants you to know that Phillips is no longer your dad’s auction house. He says big changes are afoot for the smaller rival to Christie’s and Sotheby’s — most notably his curation of a “dream team” of former top colleagues recruited from Christie’s.

Edward Dolman

“Dude, we are getting the band back together,”one of those recruits, Jean-Paul Engelen, the new worldwide head of contemporary art told Bloomberg.  This bros4life declaration incited by Dolman is explained thusly: “Much of the draw is Dolman himself, several new hires said, crediting his loyalty, integrity and long-standing professional relationships, ” Bloomberg writes.

Aside from bringing in some new-old blood into the Phillips mix, Dolman is also shaking things up by rolling out the following changes: adding online sales with EBay; expanding into categories such as rare watches and contemporary art; rebranding its new art sale; and organizing selling exhibitions in its chic new headquarters in London’s Mayfair neighborhood.

The biggest directive Dolman has expressed is about attitude. “If you want to create mini-Christie’s or mini-Sotheby’s people won’t come,” Engelen said. “You have to create your own voice.”

It seems the transformation is working. In an inaugural sales event this May held in a tent in a Geneva parking lot instead of a traditional hotel ballroom, Bloomberg reports, “Bidding for the top lot, a 1927 Patek Philippe single button chronograph, took 21 minutes, with the final price of 4.6 million Swiss francs more than double the high estimate of 2 million Swiss francs.”