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Halls director Jeremy Lamond called Mr Allen “an inspiration and a great friend”.

“Our heart goes out to his wife Sarah and his three daughters. Richard was not just well-known for his expertise at Halls and across Shropshire, he was also the life and soul of any party.

“He will be very sorely missed by us all.”

Having recently celebrated his 56th birthday, Mr Allen was a well-known, respected and admired figure in the auction world. He worked for Sotheby’s in London for 25 years, 18 of them as a main board director working in business development alongside his specialist areas of expertise, before returning to his native Shropshire and to Halls in 1992 when he was offered a directorship. He went on to develop and expand the fine art department there, continuing his specialism in portrait miniatures, as well as building sales in works of art and precious objects.

He took early retirement in May last year but continued to work for Halls for three days a week as well as advising Bonhams on portrait miniatures.