After having just announced plans to form an art advisory service, the London-based auction house Phillips has appointed Stephen Brooks as its new CEO. Brooks, who was most recently deputy chief executive officer at Christie’s where he ran the houses’s financial operations, will take over for Ed Dolman, the current CEO of Phillips. Dolman, who has been in the position since 2014, will transition into a new role as executive chairman.
Brooks, who will look to expand the house’s reach in Asia and bolster its top-grossing contemporary art and luxury categories, is taking the helm at Phillips after a volatile period for the auction industry. The pandemic’s economic toll has seen its total 2020 sales of $760.4 million fall 16 percent from the previous year’s $908 million.
“After moments of trauma, history often sees an explosion of cultural and economic activity,” Brooks said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the news. “We’ve got a huge opportunity for growth here.”
In his new role as CEO, Brooks will oversee financials and daily operations across Phillips’ four global salesrooms in the U.S., Europe and the U.K., and Asia, managing an international staff that produces some 70 sales annually. When Dolman took over in 2014, Phillips held 38 sales annually.
“Stephen is known for his successful record of innovation in the business and this aligns with Phillips’ own ethos and spirit. Together I am certain we will make a great team,” Cheyanne Westhphal, Phillips global chairman, said in a statement.
In August, Brooks left his position at Christie’s after five years as deputy chief executive officer, where he maintained broad oversight of business operations. During his tenure at Christie’s, Brooks was tasked with leading strategic internal programs across the company that included legal, financial, marketing, and e-commerce initiatives. Brooks was also a key negotiator in major deals—including the $835 million sale of David and Peggy Rockefeller’s esteemed art collection.
Brooks announced his exit from Christie’s last June, leaving the company at a crucial moment shortly after the rescheduled marquee sales later that month, following several months of changes in the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic.
He had been with Christie’s since the 2009 recession, serving previously as chief financial officer and chief operating officer. In his decade-plus-long tenure, he helped facilitate the auction house’s recovery. Before joining Christie’s, Brooks was chief financial officer of Schroders, a British asset management firm, and global chief financial officer at London investment bank Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein.
Dolman, who was also previously an executive at Christie’s, is known for having expanded Phillips international reach in Hong Kong and for doubling sales volume over a seven year period. As executive chairman, he will oversee Phillips’s holding company, aiming to secure top consignments and to forge new ties with established collectors in Asia.