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Artist House President & CEO Yo (‘John’) Tsukahara has taken temporary charge of Antiquorum as the hunt starts for a new full-time boss. Patrizzi says he was forced out due to “strategic differences” with Artist House and a power-struggle with Evan Zimmermann, Director of Antiquorum in the US. Artist House and Patrizzi are also believed to have clashed over funding in the wake of the acquisition of wristwatch internet site TimeZone.com earlier this year.

The multilingual, Italian-born Patruzzi, 62, who launched the firm in 1974, had been expected to stay with Antiquorum until the end of 2008 to groom a successor.

He says Artist House “do not understand the auction business” and have not paid his salary since the takeover, which he contends renders null and void the non-competition clause he signed with them. He vows to fight his dismissal in the courts and return to watch auctions soon.

Artist House say it “would be inappropriate to comment at this stage”.

By Simon Hewitt