An Oracle executive has been pledging himself to his "soulmate" on romantic billboards across the country. But it's not clear the gentleman approves; after all, the lady he's cuddling up to on the signs is not his wife.
The mysterious billboards advertise an online photo album which includes eight years worth of romantic pictures, emails, karoake performances, notes, tickets (including to Barack Obama's Inauguration) which seem to document a long-time affair between Charles Philips and YaVaughnie Wilkins. Our latest theory is that Wilkins has rented the billboards to expose the eight-year relationship she's had with a married man.
This is, we hasten to add, only our latest guess as to what's going on. When a tipster first alerted us to a "Charles & YaVaughnie" billboard in Times Square, we guessed they were perhaps an ordinary couple making an extraordinary bid for attention, though this immediately felt like an inadequate explanation. When it was pointed out to us that the "CEP" in the ad was Oracle co-president Charles E. Phillips, we thought maybe he'd developed a Larry Ellison complex.
But then we discovered Karen Phillips, as did our commenters and email tipsters. Her name appears in a 2006 newsletter Q&A posted to the Oracle website (see excerpt, left; we determined the date via the publication's archive here), and also mentions his 10-year-old son Chas.
And they still appear to be together. Just last November, the pair attended the annual gala for the American Museum of Natural History, where Phillips serves as a trustee. New York Social Diary published a picture of the pair, which you can see above.
As far back as 2001, Phillips was in a romantic relationship with Wilkins, judging from the pictures and listed dates on CharlesPhillipsAndYaVaughnieWilkins.com. The pictures show the pair taking vacations, snuggling, kissing, and repeatedly spending time with a young boy, perhaps Phillips' son, and with friends. There are, "pics of the mistress topless, ticket stubs of events the two attended, personal letters, notes and greeting cards, as well as those little note cards you get with flowers," as one of our commenters put it. We've posted some of the images — sorry, not the topless stuff — below.
So was Phillips juggling two women, with one or both kept in the dark? Did Wilkins get tired of waiting for Charles to leave his wife? Were the spouses separated but not yet public with the end of their marriage? Maybe Phillips is indeed divorced, and trying to smooth over an unrelated fight with Wilkins? The couple has had their share of blowups in the past, as seen in the letters from the website below, with Phillips urging Wilkins to be "patient." (Hmm.)
We've tried to get answers, emailing the address listed on the "Charles & YaVaughnie" website Tuesday and calling and emailing various people at Oracle yesterday trying to reach Phillips. Thus far we've heard nothing.
So we'll just outline the various things we've heard thus far from other people:
- There appear to be at least three billboards in New York: At Times Square (see top of our first post); at 45th and 3rd Ave. (see this comment on first post) and one at Broadway and 52nd St (found on Flickr).
- According to one email tipster, the same billboard has gone up in San Francisco and Atlanta. We have no pictures of this, however.
- An email tipster: "Charles is the president of Oracle. He is stll hapily married. YaVaughnie is his mistress who took the money he gave her and is trying to break up his marriage. I have it from [an] authority inside Oracle."
- Commenter happycamper2000 claims that the Phillips' marriage has been over for a long time: "According to several family and friends of the couple, he was legally separated in 2000 with the divorce finalizing in 2003." So why did Phillips say he was married in the 2006 Oracle newsletter Q&A? It should be noted this comment was posted by a brand-new Gawker commenter.
- Email tipster: "From what I hear, it's a lover who is either scorned, or trying to force the issue. It is most definately not Charles work. I'm told he still attends work functions with his wife. That web site is a whole other level of fatal attraction. "
- Commenter ConnieMortadella speculates after heroically viewing all the pictures: "OK, the woman in the site and billboard is clearly his mistress... His son features prominently all throughout the 8 years' worth of pictures... This dude had a multi-year affair... They went to see Hall & Oates and Tom Jones! I don't even know what to think about that. Apparently, according to the pics he has also flown her around the world several times... Clearly, not only does his son know her but Charles also goes to public events with her. This is all so weird... It reminded me of how pissed I was I couldn't get tickets for the all-black production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof from a few years ago. Anyway, I'm thinking the mistress is behind this, it's all so tacky, and includes so many personal mementos that must belong to her. "
- Commenter lobstr: "Midtown billboards can run $50,000 a month, so they're throwing 6 figures for the world can see some pointless shitty website? There is definitely something more meta (lulz) going on here than meets the eye."
- Commenter BaldwinPeriphetes: "Bang bang- it's a highly public and yet subtle outing of him for screwing around."
If you know more, get in touch. In the meantime, here are some select (purported) notes and pictures from the website. Odd that a girlfriend in a functional, happy relationship would choose to post so much evidence of her apparently brutal fights with her lover, no?
(Top pic (edited) by Jen Gallardo)