Founder of contemporary art auction house Simon de Pury steps down

No word yet as to the future direction of Simon de Pury or the auction house he co-founded.

On 21 December 2012, Simon de Pury resigned as chairman of the New York auction house Phillips de Pury & Company, effective immediately. The auction house will continue under the management of the Russian luxury retail investment firm Mercury Group, which has held a majority interest in the company since 2008.

Simon de Pury.

The Mercury Group acquired Simon de Pury’s remaining interest in Phillips de Pury & Company, completing their acquisition of the contemporary art-focused auction house. De Pury’s wife Michaela will also step back from her role as senior director.

In January 2013, the company will revert to its original name PHILLIPS. In a statement released on Phillips de Pury’s website, Simon de Pury said,

During the wonderful and exciting years I had the privilege to spend at Phillips de Pury & Company the firm has become a major taste maker in contemporary art, design and photography. I embark on new adventures comfortable with the knowledge that the company is in an excellent position and has been going from strength to strength. Thanks to the vision and commitment of its owners, the Mercury Group, and to the great professional competence of its CEO, Michael McGinnis, the Company is ideally equipped for a very successful future. My gratitude goes to them and all of my wonderful colleagues.

McGinnis was likewise gracious to de Pury for his respected leadership of the contemporary art taste-maker. He said,

Our legacy has been enriched by Simon’s many contributions during his tenure at the Company. His vision to focus on contemporary culture was a catalyst in establishing our brand as a market leader. Simon has served as a tireless ambassador for the Company and a compelling presence on the podium. We thank him for his spirited enthusiasm, leadership and dedication. Simon has been an inspirational collaborator, business partner and friend over the past decade and I wish him well on what will surely be an exciting new chapter in his career.

However, there are rumours that the resignation was not entirely amicable. The New York Post, citing “sources close to the couple”, reported that de Pury was forced out. According to their source,

Simon and Michaela sent out letters to friends and clients saying they moved on after twelve years, but they didn’t want to go and were very upset. Mercury gave Simon three years to meet a set target. He did not meet the numbers and was forced out. He’s trying to spin it in a positive way.

Mercury Group denied the rumour.

Simon de Pury started out at Sotheby’s in London and Monte Carlo before co-founding the auction house De Pury and Luxembourg Art with Daniella Luxembourg in 1997. In 2001, the company bought Phillips Auctioneers, a London auction house founded in 1796 and later owned by Bonhams, and changed the name to Phillips de Pury & Company. In March of 2004, de Pury acquired the majority stake in the company.

Simon de Pury is yet to reveal his plans for the future.

PR/KN/HH

Related Topics: Simon de Pury, market watch – auction houses, business of art

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