Oracle president admits to affair exposed by giant billboards
Splashy headlines used to be the exclusive domain of Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison, known for his aggressive business practices and colorful lifestyle. No more.
His lieutenant, Charles E. Phillips, president of the technology giant and a member of President Obama's Economic Recovery Advisory Board, stepped into a harsh spotlight this week as his spurned mistress plastered San Francisco, New York and Atlanta with billboards revealing their affair.
The three-story-tall billboard near Times Square featured a photo of Phillips and YaVaughnie Wilkins with the wording: "Charles & YaVaughnie" and "You are my soulmate forever - cep." The billboards (that have now been taken down) also directed onlookers to a website that, until it was taken down, was a virtual shrine to the affair. It showed photos of the two dating back to 2001 and includes mementos such as ticket stubs to Obama's inauguration and love notes from Phillips. Wilkins could not be reached for comment.
The stunt first reported by Gawker and then featured on the cover of the New York Post is bringing unwanted attention and humiliation to Phillips and to Oracle.
"I had an 8½-year serious relationship with YaVaughnie Wilkins," Charles Phillips said in a statement. "The relationship with Ms. Wilkins has since ended, and we both wish each other well."
"Clearly that's not the case," said a person close to Oracle.
Phillips' wife, Karen, filed for divorce in February 2008. The New York Post says the couple recently reconciled.
Oracle did not respond to a request for comment. But the affair presents a conundrum for the company. Phillips is slated to lead a meeting for industry analysts next week to discuss the $7.4-billion merger with Sun Microsystems.
Will Phillips take a gentleman's step away from the company?
-- Jessica Guynn
Photo: The billboard in New York City; Credit: NotoriousJEN/Flickr