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At Christie’s Mr Holdeman will adopt a dual role as an international director and head of its photography department in New York, as well as the head of its 20th century decorative arts department.

Working as his assistant in the high-growth 20th century decorative arts department will be new vice president and specialist Bevin Cline. She joins Christie’s from the Museum of Modern Art where she was the assistant curator of architecture and design.

Phillips, who say they will have a full schedule of sales in the autumn, are now looking for a replacement for Mr Holdeman in the photograph department. Alexander Payne will continue to run the design department.

The movement of talent from Sotheby’s and Christie’s to Phillips that was such a feature of late 1990s is now, apparently, being reversed.

According to the New York Times, Philippe Garner, the design department consultant at Phillips, de Pury & Co. is also set to join Christie’s as their international head of decorative arts, once the terms of his current contract expires in late summer.