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He will hold the post of Co-President jointly with Francis Briest, and the firm will henceforth be styled ArtCurial-Briest-Le Fur-Poulain-Tajan.

ArtCurial, based in the Hôtel Dassault, a Belle Epoque mansion on the Champs-Elysées, ranked fourth in the Paris auction league for 2004 behind Christie’s, Tajan and Sotheby’s, with sales of €40m, down from €60m in 2003.

Tajan, who is thought to have left his old firm after clashing with owner Rodica Seward, wants to see his new company reach the €60m mark again “pretty rapidly”, with the twin aims of annual sales of €80m within the next three years.

He also wants to overtake Tajan SA as the principal Paris-based auction firm.

One of Tajan’s main tasks at ArtCurial will be to boost the 20th Decorative Arts department with the help of the renowned expert Félix Marcilhac, who is also switching allegiance from Tajan to ArtCurial.

François Tajan will also be in charge of boosting the firm’s sales of books and jewellery, and establishing a permanent bureau in Monaco.

Tajan SA are to continue to stage annual jewellery sales in Monaco, and ArtCurial will be looking to sell in Monaco too – probably, says François Tajan, starting in 2006.