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Barring unforeseen delays, October 25 will see the ex-chairman and chief shareholder of Sotheby’s in the dock for what is expected to be the climax of the most expensive and longest running criminal investigation in the history of the art market.

Sir Anthony, former chairman of Christie’s, has declared his innocence but will not be travelling to New York to clear his name. It is understood that he cannot be extradited for trial in the US as there was no equivalent crime in Britain at the time the alleged breach of US anti-trust law was said to have taken place.

The trial is expected to run for six weeks and will see Mr Taubman, who has pleaded not guilty to fixing commission rates for vendors, make his defence against government lawyers and their key witness, Diana D. Brooks, the ex-chief executive of Sotheby’s who has already pleaded guilty to fixing commission rates for vendors but denies any such charges over buyers’ premiums. Her sentencing is expected to depend largely on her testimony against her former boss.

The extent of prosecution evidence against Mr Taubman is not yet clear, but his lawyers have outlined their defence in pre-trial hearings. The New York Times reported that lawyers had found evidence to suggest that Mr Taubman had not been involved in discussions to fix buyers’ premiums in the early 1990s. Accordingly, the lawyers argued, Mr Taubman would not have known about any subsequent discussions to fix the vendor rates.

The lawyers also argued that Christie’s might have violated the conditions of their amnesty against prosecution for price fixing – secured after they reported the alleged misdoings to the authorities – by not informing the government as soon as they were aware of collusion with Sotheby’s. Mr Taubman’s defence team are seeking documents from Christie’s which they are hoping will show that their client was kept in the dark about the price-fixing agreements.