Auction houses

Phillips names Olivia Thornton head of 20th-century and contemporary art in Europe

The appointment comes after a handful of new hires across the auction house’s offices

Olivia Thornton Phillips

Phillips auction house has announced that Olivia Thornton, a former senior director in contemporary art at Sotheby’s, has been appointed senior director and head of the 20th-century and contemporary art department, Europe.

As head of the London-based department, Thornton will be responsible for overseeing all aspects of Phillips’ 20th-century and contemporary auctions, including cultivating networks among collectors, dealers, and curators to increase the auction house’s presence in Europe.

During her 12 years at Sotheby’s, Thornton helped secure major collections and single-owner sales, including Damien Hirst’s 2008 Beautiful Inside My Head Forever auction.

“I had the privilege of working with Olivia for many years at Sotheby’s and have always been greatly impressed by her expertise, deal-making skills, personal approach and passion for engaging with collectors and colleagues,” says Cheyenne Westphal, the global chairwoman of Phillips. “She is highly respected amongst her peers and across the international marketplace, and we are thrilled to welcome her to Phillips where she will be a transformative addition to our team.”

Thornton’s appointment follows the announcement of a handful of other new hires in the last month at Phillips, including Jamie Niven—also formerly of Sotheby’s—as senior adviser to the auction house’s chief executive, Edward Dolman, and Christie’s Hartley Waltman as general counsel, Americas.