The Mystery of the "Charles & YaVaughnie" Billboards continues to unfold: Tonight, Oracle exec Charles Phillips admitted to having an 8 1/2 year "serious relationship" with YaVaughnie Wilkins, the billboard woman. But the mystery of his marriage only deepens.
In a statement to NBC Bay Area, Phillips admits to the lengthy affair with Wilkins but adds that "the relationship with Ms. Wilkins has since ended and we both wish each other well."
However, most puzzling is the fact that Phillips says in the statement that divorce proceedings with his wife, Karen, began in 2008. Puzzling because, since our own Ryan Tate broke the story this evening, a number of commenters and tipsters have suggested that Phillips portrayed his marriage as having ended far before 2008. Commenter Tsarinamisha, who says they are a "close friend of the couple," wrote that:
I can assure you he portrayed himself as having been legally divorced in 2003. Their closeness and the fact that heir relationship was very public led no one to believe otherwise. They attended family & professional events as a couple, lived together for 8 years & bought a home about 2 years ago. I was a guest at numerous of their parties and he introduced her to numerous people, including his son, as his girlfriend
And commenter dbishty, who says they worked on YaVaughnie and Charles' house in Hillsborough, California wrote:
There was never any indication there was a third party in their relationship. Charles and YaVaughnie spent quite a bit of money on their estate so it doesn't make sense that things have turned out this way. The realtor at Coldwell Bankers and contractors at Genesis, Inc. and Bethe Cohen Design associated with the couple have nothing but glowing things to say about YaVaughnie and Charles. If he is married, YaVaughnie did not know. She believed him, as we all did, when he said he was divorced.
And after 8 1/2 years, it appears that Phillips may have reconciled with his wife back East, at least for a time. Just this past December, he appeared with her to accept an award and gave an effusive speech about how "he owes everything to his wife." Ryan speculated that perhaps Phillips was leading a sort of a bicoastal double-life, telling people out West that he was long-divorced, while remaining married to Karen in the hopes of eventual reconciliation. These details lend some support to this pretty wild theory, as well as to the theory that the billboards were a final, brilliant act of revenge by a spurned Wilkins.
What's more, these billboards seem calculated to sabotage a major Oracle event Phillips will likely be speaking at: On January 27th (The same day Apple will or will not unveil the tablet), Oracle will host an "all-day live event" at its headquarters following the announcement that the EU has approved Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems. Devious!
Which suggests this story could have major implications for Oracle outside of simply embarrassing its president. Phillips is essentially the public face of the company, and he's paid handsomely for it: He made $19.3 million at Oracle last year—$49 million since 2007. And according to SEC records, he's the beneficial owner of $80 million worth of Oracle stock. We'll see if that stock is worth a little less tomorrow.
(Top pic (edited) by Jen Gallardo)
Since YaVaughnie's site, which she described as a "gift" for Charles when she hired the web designer, keeps going down, we've added a few more pictures to our selected gallery to give you a taste of what she posted: