Simon de Pury and Daniela Luxembourg, the managers of the London-based auction house Phillips bought the majority of its shares from the LVMH group on February 19th 2002.
LVMH, owned by French tycoon Bernard Arnault, will keep 27,5% of Phillips' shares. The group decided to sell a majority of its shares to preserve its financial assets.
Simon de Pury is much experienced in the field of auction sales and has more than once proved his talent in seducing collectors to entrust Phillips with some superb pieces to sell.
However, LVMH's offer to give up the majority of its shares in favour of this Swiss aristocrat is seen as a dangerous gift since Phillips has been engaged in heavy spendings in trying to compete with Sotheby's and Christie's, notably in offering advantageous guarantees to sellers.
Many observers wonder whether Simon de Pury's experience and charisma will be sufficient to bring Phillips at the level of these auction houses.
Considered as a much charming man, Simon de Pury, who was formerly the curator of the collections of Baron Thyssen before heading Sotheby's Impressionist and Modern department, will be confronted to a tremendous task even though he can rely on the support of Louise T. Blouin MacBain, one of the wealthiest Canadian women since he will no longer enjoy the active financial support of LVMH.
The situation of Phillips remains quite fragile and de Pury will need more than his good will to develop the London-based auction house.