In several moves that have industry watchers shaking their heads, Christie's, Howard Greenberg Gallery and Phillips de Pury have virtually swapped staff.
Former Christie's photography department head Leila Buckjune has taken on a sales role in the Howard Greenberg Gallery. Rick Wester has also been working with the gallery's operations on a management consulting basis, as Greenberg has stepped back temporarily from daily operations of the gallery to take more personal time and to allow himself to spend more effort on strategic projects and specific clients.
But more changes are in store for Wester, who was the former Christie's international head of photography. He will formally take over the photography department at Phillips in mid-January, although he will work as a part-time consultant for both Howard Greenberg Gallery and Phillips until then.
Meanwhile, former Phillips photography New York department head Joshua Holdeman has joined Christie's to head up its international department of photography and its New York 20th-century decorative arts department.
He had reportedly been courted by Christie's last year, but Phillips apparently met the Christie's offer at that time. When the Christie's design veterans Nicola Redman and Peggy Giles recently resigned, the extra department head openings allowed Christie's to sweeten the deal. The auction house has also added MOMA assistant curator of architecture and design Bevin Cline as vice president of the 20th-century decorative arts department in order to bolster Holdeman's lack of experience in that area.
If Holdeman needs any further help with either department, the New York Sun reported last week (apparently from Phillips' New York office sources) that his old mentor Philippe Garner, who headed up both photography and 20th-century design at both Phillips and Sotheby's, will also be brought on to the Christie's team to head up those departments in London. Garner is one of the most experienced auction experts in either of these two fields and is extremely well respected. No official announcement on Garner has been made yet, and Garner continues to remain mum on his future as his contract with Phillips is still currently in effect.