Simon de Pury Quits As Phillips Is Sold To The Russians

2012 has been one of the most lucrative years ever for the auction house Phillips de Pury & Company. With this in mind, it comes as no surprise to anyone that Simon de Pury has decided to step down as Chairman (effective 21 December). After twelve years in the top job, he is set to take the money and run. Dubbed ‘the man with the golden gavel’, Simon de Pury, 60, chief auctioneer and chairman of one of the world’s largest auction houses, has effectively sold it to the Russians.

The Mercury Group closed its acquisition deal of his remaining interest in Phillips de Pury & Company on Friday. Pury stated;  “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.” Michael McGinnis: “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.”

Phillips was founded in 1796 in London. It was bought out by Bonham’s (another 18th century UK based auction comany) in the 1990s. They then sold the brand on to the small Luxembourg based de Pury & Company auctioneers. It has been known as Phillips de Pury & Company for the last eight years. In January 2013 the firm will revert back to its original name of PHILLIPS. In February, the Company will expand its presence at its premier New York location at 450 Park Avenue by taking significant additional gallery and office space. Phillips will continue in its goal of providing the best auction experience for the sale of 20th- and 21st -Century Art and of offering the most exciting catalogues, exhibitions, marketing and digital media in the industry.

Moscow-based Mercury Group has bought control of Phillips de Pury & Company, the New York and London- based auction house said today in an e-mailed statement. Phillips’s founder and chairman, Simon de Pury, retains a stake in the company as part of what the e-mailed news release calls “a strategic partnership.”

“We have seen tremendous growth in the company over the last four years,” said De Pury in the statement. “This partnership with a major player in the luxury sector will allow us to provide a unique platform to new and fast-growing markets. Russia has clearly emerged as an important art market.”    

The Mercury Group is an automotive and prestige consumer products distributor in Russia. The company also distributes Ferrari and Bentley. The company imports everything from luxury cars to designer jewelry. Mercury Group represents some of the world’s most exclusive luxury goods brands in Russia, including Armani, Breitling, Chopard, Faberge and Tiffany. Mercury Group is based in Moscow, the Russian Federation.

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