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The move ups the stakes in the competition with Sotheby’s for Old Master business, with Christie’s hoping to capitalise on the knowledge, experience and contacts of Richard Knight and Nicholas Hall. Hall and Knight Inc.’s existing premises at East 67th Street will stay open as a centre for private treaty sales as well as a site for future temporary exhibitions.

Mr Hall will be based in New York at Christie’s in the Rockefeller Center, with Anthony Crichton-Stuart, head of Old Master Pictures also there, while Mr Knight will be based at Christie’s King Street in London, working closely with Paul Raison, head of Old Master Pictures, at Christie’s London.

Messrs Hall and Knight will continue to deal with their existing clients from within Christie's, and will work to develop Christie’s private sale activity in Old Masters.