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Phillips, de Pury & Luxembourg’s 2002 sales totalled $180m. Bonhams’ figure includes sales at Butterfields in California, whom Bonhams acquired in August 2002.
Bonhams chairman Robert Brooks said: “This crowns a triumphant year for us in which our long-term thinking and consistent attention to detail has continued to produce results.”

He was most pleased with Bonhams’ London jewellery sales which overtook Sotheby’s. Bonhams’ Knightsbridge jewellery sales were also six per cent greater than those at Christie’s South Kensington, the company reported.

Matthew Girling, Bonhams’ director of jewellery, said: “Our sales in 2002 far exceeded our initial expectations, but reflect the underlying strength of the Bonhams jewellery team. We are now aiming squarely at taking the top spot.”

Meanwhile, Bonhams have announced several more new appointments, starting with Christopher Austyn, who joins as director of the sporting gun department from Christie’s and from March 2003 will be based at the newly refurbished Bonhams saleroom in Knightsbridge.

Mr Austyn, 45, joined Christie’s in 1981, becoming head of the sporting gun department and a director of the company in 1999.

Extremely well known in the gun world, Mr Austyn was responsible for numerous important sales such as the Collection of the late Sir Joseph Nickerson (March 1991); The Tulchan Collection (March 1995); The Cholmondeley and Handyside Collections (July 1995); and the Yannaghas Collection (December 1998).

In addition, he is the author of three definitive books on his specialisation: Modern Sporting Guns (1994); Classic Sporting Rifles (1997) and Gun Engraving (1998).

He was admitted to the Gun Makers’ Livery Company and was appointed a Freeman of the City of London in 1995. Also appointed is Bill Stephenson, who joins the company’s trusts and estates services department after more than 30 years with Barclays Bank.

Mr Stephenson is a former manager with Barclays Bank Trust Company and managed their Eastbourne office, where he was responsible for promoting trustee services and dealing with the administration of estates, wills and EPAs (Enduring Powers of Attorney).

He will be based with Bonhams in the South East, where he will join a team developing the company’s trusts and estates division.