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Mr Edmeades, who has held the position of deputy chairman since 1997, joined Christie’s South Kensington in 1978. In 1984 he became director of the furniture department, then director of CSK’s specialist departments personally overseeing the disposal of deceased estates through specialist sales. He has also been a leading member of the Country House sale team. He takes over the role of chairman from Dermot Chichester who moved to Los Angeles in January 1999 to become managing director of Christie’s Los Angeles, a position he combined with roles as chairman of CSK and of Christie’s International motor cars.

“My job won’t change that dramatically,” Mr Edmeades told the Antiques Trade Gazette last week. “With Dermot overseas I was undertaking many of the chairman’s duties as deputy chairman. Now I am looking to further my role on the business-getting front.”

Mr Edmeades said there were no immediate plans to fill his former post. With the new chairman of Christie’s South Kensington on site, the need for a deputy chairman is not seen as a requirement at this point, he explained.