Stephen Brooks, who was selected to lead Phillips less than three years ago and lead the third-largest auction house to grow internationally, has reportedly stepped down for personal reasons effective this month. In a statement to Artnews, Phillips spokespersons said his resignation was unrelated to the auction house’s falling sales in 2023, when Phillips reported a 15% drop in sales from the previous year, when the house posted a record $1.3bn in sales.
Phillips executive chairman Ed Dolman, who previously served as chief executive between 2014 to 2021, will take over management of global operations for now, a spokesperson told Artnews.
“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’s continued success,” Dolman told Artnews in a statement. “I thank him for his many contributions to the company and wish him all the best.”
Brooks joined Phillips in 2021 and said at the time he looked forward to “helping Phillips realise the very significant growth potential of the firm in the coming years”. During his tenure, the auction house has weathered multiple storms, including pandemic lockdowns, the softening of the market and the invasion of Ukraine, which put pressure on Phillips and its Russian owners, the Mercury Group.
Phillips expanded in Asia under Brooks’s leadership. In 2022, it partnered with Beijing-based auction house Yongle on a series of sales. It also opened a new Hong Kong headquarters last year.
Phillips also continued to pursue alternative selling models during Brooks’s time at the helm. Last year, the auction house launched a new primary market sales model via series of specially commissioned works offered to collection via monthly “drops” through its online Dropshop portal. It also organised selling exhibitions in response to growing market demand, including a show of Ghanaian art in London in early 2022 and a show of Native American contemporary art that opened in New York this month.
Before joining Phillips, Brooks was a Christie’s executive, and held titles including chief operating officer and deputy chief executive over 11 years with the company.