PARIS — LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton Wednesday announced that Lord Charles Powell, a director of the Jardine Matheson Group and a former foreign affairs and defense adviser to Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher and John Major, would become chairman of the Phillips auction house in London.
LVMH acquired Phillips in November, and Powell, 58, is a member of its board.
The chairman’s post is a new one and is nonexecutive.
In a statement Wednesday, LVMH boasted that Phillips was quickly gaining prominence and said the auction house would handle an important sale May 11 in New York.
The Impressionist and modern paintings to be sold are “widely regarded as being the best collection of paintings for sale in the U.S. this season, and it [the sale] will be instrumental in confirming Phillips’s position as a key force in the international art market.”
The appointment and sale come as Phillips’s larger competitors, Christie’s and Sotheby’s, are embroiled in a scandal involving collusion and price-fixing charges.
“Our priority is repositioning Phillips as a strongly performing, top international brand,” said Chris Thomson, chief executive of Phillips.
Thomson said Powell’s appointment would boost Phillips’s stature and he noted that besides Powell’s political connections, the new chairman was an astute businessman with a vast network of contacts in Asia.
Powell is a member of the British Museum Development Council and chairman of the trustees of the Oxford University Business School.