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A statement issued by solicitors on behalf of Barbara Dixon, senior partner at Academy, said: “The Northcote Avenue property was sold recently to new owners and a dispute has arisen regarding the sale of the business. The matter is now in the hands of lawyers.”

“In the meantime, until this dispute is resolved, Mrs Dixon and the other partners have every intention of fulfilling their commitments to existing clients. As a result of the dispute, they were not able to use the premises which resulted in the cancellation of the August and September sales. As soon as the current petrol crisis is resolved, they will be able to relocate and organise further sales.”

The freehold of the auctioneers’ Ealing base, leased by Academy, has been sold to an overseas company. Colin Bibra and Co., agents for the new freeholders, believe that the Academy name has been sold to a European collector and art dealer, who has plans to expand the firm in Europe, although this has not been confirmed.

Enquiries should be addressed to Sean Fitzgerald at Stephenson Harwood Solicitors, 1 St Paul’s Churchyard, London,UK, EC4M 8SH.