Newman's new role is the latest in Sotheby's reshuffle, which has seen European operations being chaired by Oliver Barker, Mario Tavella and Philipp Württemberg.

Former chairs Melanie Clore and Henry Wyndham left Sotheby's and are now establishing their own fine art company which they will announce the launch date for in September.

Having been at Sotheby's since 1988, Newman auctioneered the Impressionist and Modern evening sale on 21st June this year, the first woman to have done so since 1990.

TR199S02HelenaNewman064 Helena Newman

Maarten ten Holder, Sotheby’s managing director for Europe, commented:  ''I am thrilled to see Helena take on this additional position at the helm of our European organisation. She will bring to the role as chairman not only the experience of 28 highly successful years at Sotheby's, but also an unparalleled depth of expertise and relationships in the field of Impressionist and Modern Art, where she has been key, both to our long-standing leadership in the field and to many historic moments and landmark sales.''

Newman has been an integral part of the continued success of the international market for German & Austrian Art. Her achievements in the Impressionist and Modern art department include the February 2010 sale , which was the most successful ever held in Europe, realizing $212 million (£164.4 million.) The highlight of the sale was Alberto Giacometti’s L’homme qui marche I, which achieved the highest price for any work at auction at the time of the sale when it sold for $84 million (£65 million._

The success of Looking Closely: A Private Collection in 2011, which had a sell-through rate of 100%, was largely owed to Newman. The sale totaled $212 million (£93.5 million) over double its low estimate.