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LVMH chief Bernard Arnault bought Tajan three years ago as part of his unsuccessful drive to challenge François Pinault – his personal rival and owner of Christie’s and Paris auctioneers Piasa – for global auction supremacy.

After ceding control of Phillips to Simon de Pury and Daniella Luxembourg last year, Arnault’s decision to offload Tajan appears to mark the end of his foray into the auction world, although LVMH will retain a minority shareholding in Tajan for the time being.

LVMH claim the sale reflects a change in group strategy, which will now focus exclusively on LVMH’s core activity – fashion and luxury goods.

Tajan’s new owner, Rodica B. Seward, is executive vice-president of Platinum Equity, a Los Angeles-based firm specialising in corporate buy-outs. But François Tajan told the Antiques Trade Gazette that, in buying Tajan, Romanian-born Seward was acting in a purely personal capacity and that Platinum were “not involved in any way”.

M. Tajan says she regularly attends the firm’s auctions as an eclectic collector with special interest in Oriental and abstract art. He expects her to adopt a more hands-on approach than LVMH, and hopes her international business background will “open doors” for Tajan in the United States, Spain and Germany, where Seward is “very well connected”.