Phillips seems to be bringing a higher level of professionalism to its sales but the relentlessness of its PR initiative—interviews in the New York Times’s Inside Art column, long on-the-record quotes slamming former Christie’s CEO Steven Murphy, and today’s profile in ArtNews ably written by Dan Duray is keeping the company in the position of ever-promising a new direction without substantially delivering on it:
Phillips hopes to attract new audiences by becoming an “arts destination” that will go beyond auctions to offer a variety of services, from private sales to education. Both he and Dolman were cagey on the details, but the subtext—a rebranding—can perhaps be read in the tea leaves: another Dolman hire is Damien Whitmore, who worked on branding for the Victoria & Albert Museum as well as for Tate, and was involved with the launch of Tate Modern.
“I want Phillips to be seen, going forward, as a very serious and real part of the art community,” Dolman said. “Not just as auctioneers, but broader.”