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Jacques Tajan said the term “étude” was no longer appropriate in the wake of France’s auction reform and that “Tajan” had a simpler, snappier ring to it.

Tajan’s premises in Rue des Mathurins have been given a facelift to mark the change, with the forecourt and lobby area embellished, and the 400sq.m saleroom redesigned to appear more spacious. Jacques Tajan moved into the building – a former bank – in 1994 and admits that “Rue des Mathurins was a big investment initially… and it’s deteriorated slightly since then.” Tajan now enjoys the “financial comfort” necessary to carry out the upgrade after joining Bernard Arnault’s LVMH group.

Tajan intend to continue using the Hôtel George V for their most prestigious sales. “I believe in the magic of a venue,” says Jacques Tajan, “and the George V and Rue des Mathurins have that magic.” He says that the Hôtel Drouot’s policy of fixing saleroom hire charges as a percentage of the sale’s hammer total made Drouot “three times more expensive than the George V” for major sales.

Tajan enjoyed a good first six months in 2001, with sales up 43 per cent and profits up by nearly 50 per cent. Jacques Tajan says he enjoys a “friendly relationship” with Bernard Arnault but has no contact with Phillips, who also belong to Arnault’s LVMH group. “It’s up to LVMH to build bridges if they wish,” notes Tajan, who is delighted to retain a large measure of independence. “We and Phillips have the same shareholders – that’s all.”

Tajan has long been scathing about the limited scope of France’s auction reform but is hoping that the new freedom to set the buyer’s premium – which he expects to rise to around 15 per cent from the current official nine per cent rate (plus VAT) – should generate greater profits, and enable vendor’s charges to be eased, especially for important objects. He is also pleased that negotiated sales of works unsold at auction will become officially authorised in France for the first time.