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They also confirmed that all works at the storage depot in Leyton insured by Axa Art are covered for fire damage and catastrophic events.

Momart, who said they were unable to comment on the cause of the fire, were also upbeat about claims: “Our insurers are completely satisfied that we took all the necessary steps to ensure the safekeeping of the works of art in our possession,” said managing director Eugene Boyle.

He added that all clients had been given comprehensive details of works affected by the blaze, which is thought to have destroyed in the region of £50m worth of art.

One unknown at this early stage is exactly how the loss will affect dealer shows and art fairs this summer. The most significant events in the coming month are Grosvenor House in London and the Basel art fair, which starts on June 16.

A significant number of art dealers and commercial galleries were among those who lost a total of more than £40m in the blaze and, as such, it is likely to have a serious and lasting effect on the Modern and Contemporary art trade.

Axa Art’s claims controller Susie Collier said: “We will be working closely with Momart to ensure that our clients are compensated as quickly as possible.” UK chief executive Adam Golder added: “Our job is to ensure a fast and equitable insurance settlement, although, to many, any insurance payment can never replace the original work of art.”

Leading Modern art dealer Leslie Waddington, who lost around 150 works, said about 20 were of “real significance”, the most important being by abstract painter Patrick Heron and modern sculptor Barry Flanagan. “There are copies of the Flanagans,” he said, “but I am certain that the Herons include two or three major pictures which have just been wiped out. It is not the financial loss, it is the emotional loss. It is a wipe-out in certain areas of modern art history.”

At least 50 major works by Heron, who died in 1999, were also destroyed. They formed part of the personal collection of his daughters.

The general consequence of the Leyton warehouse fire is that the art world has lost some of the most important British works from the last 50 years.

Mr Boyle said: “Just five to ten per cent of the works we look after for our clients were stored in this facility. We have two other sites in London which were unaffected by this fire.”

Momart have been providing storage and transportation for a number of high-profile collectors and commercial galleries for over 30 years. Their customers include leading collector Charles Saatchi.

“We take security and safety very seriously and have enjoyed a blemish-free record since we were founded in 1971,” said Mr Boyle. “We are constantly reviewing our security and safety arrangements to ensure that we provide our clients with the very best storage and transportation facilities available.”