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Michael McGinnis Steps Down as President of Phillips After 16 Years

Michael McGinnis. COURTESY PHILLIPS

Michael McGinnis.

COURTESY PHILLIPS

Phillips president Michael McGinnis will be stepping down from his position and leaving the company, he announced in an email to staff. He will be pursuing “various opportunities in the non-auction side of the art business.”

“My tenure with Phillips has been nothing short of phenomenal, but the time has come for me to broaden my horizons and pursue new challenges,” he said in the email. “So far my entire twenty-two year career has been in the auction business, and it’s time to experience the art industry from a different perspective.”

McGinnis, who has been with the company for 16 years and who has served as CEO from fall 2012 to July 2014 and president since then, will have his last day on November 30.

The announcement comes after a New York sales season that saw Phillips boldly retooling its approach to auctions. It expanded its purview beyond its specialty of contemporary to include postwar lots, and dubbed the occasion a “20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale.” And, under pressure from scheduling changes by Christie’s, it moved the auction to Sunday, a slot that was previously unthinkable.

It’s unclear whom CEO Ed Dolman, who took control of Phillips last year, will appoint as the new president, but it’s a good bet he’ll bring someone from his old gang at Christie’s, where he worked for 27 years. Whoever it is, they will be tasked with the job of trying to make the house more than an also-ran, lagging behind its two competitors.

His full letter is below.

Colleagues,

After sixteen exciting years at Phillips, I will be stepping down as President and leaving to pursue various opportunities in the non-auction side of the art business.

My tenure with Phillips has been nothing short of phenomenal, but the time has come for me to broaden my horizons and pursue new challenges. So far my entire twenty-two year career has been in the auction business, and it’s time to experience the art industry from a different perspective.

I am eternally grateful to Leonid Friedland and the Mercury Group for their trust and unwavering commitment to Phillips over the years and more recently to Ed Dolman for his invaluable support and direction.

It has been a pleasure working with all of you and I look forward to doing business with Phillips on a regular basis in the future. Finally, I wish you all great success in what is certain to be a gilded era for Phillips.

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