Sotheby’s Veteran David Norman, Who Helped Sell the First Work of Art to Break $100 Million at Auction, Joins Phillips

Norman led Sotheby's record-setting $104 million sale of a work by Picasso in 2004.

David Norman is Phillips's new chairman of the Americas. Image courtesy of Phillips.
David Norman is Phillips's new chairman of the Americas. Image courtesy of Phillips.

Phillips is bolstering its executive roster with the hire today of longtime Sotheby’s rainmaker David Norman, who has been named chairman of the Americas, effective immediately. He will be based in New York.

“David is regarded by many as one of the world’s great experts in Modern and Impressionist art, and we are delighted he is joining Phillips,” said chief executive Edward Dolman, who has brought on numerous prestigious art-world leaders since taking the helm in 2014. Since then, sales have increased more than 129 percent, and reached $916 million in 2018.

Norman spent more than 30 years at Sotheby’s, serving as head of the Impressionist and Modern art department and later as vice chairman. He left in early 2016 and formed his own art advisory firm.

In 2004, he led the auction that included the first painting ever to break the $100 million mark, Pablo Picasso’s Garçon a la Pipe (1905), which sold for $104.2 million. He also handled bidding on the first sculpture to break that threshold, Alberto Giacometti’s Walking Man I (1960), which sold for $104.3 million in 2010.

“His unrivaled expertise, extraordinary reputation, and deep relationships with collectors will add even greater depth to an extraordinary pool of talent at Phillips,” Dolman said. Norman will be a member of the the global leadership team and partner with Phillips senior executives in Europe, the United States, and Asia to develop the company’s client-relationship program and continue its expansion into the modern art category. He will work closely with Hugues Joffre, who is senior advisor to Dolman.

Norman called Phillips “a 220-year-old company with the spirit of a start-up.” He told artnet News: “When you walk into Phillips you instantly sense the energy in the building. The galleries are modern and beautiful, sales are growing, and the expert staff is actively creating a new model in the auction business. That’s why I believe Phillips’s continued expansion into Modern art is a perfect complement to its existing focus on 20th-century and contemporary art. The way a Picasso interacts with a Basquiat, or a Miró with a Dubuffet, highlights that art is as much evolution as revolution. There’s a clear consistency to Phillips’s brand and offering.”

Norman became director of Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern art department in 1999, worldwide chairman of the division in 2008, and then vice chairman of Sotheby’s North America in 2012.


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