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Wyndham – whose increasing workload occasioned the need for some support – said: "This appointment, effective January 1, will enhance the ability of our senior team to focus on top clients and to grow and strengthen our business and our brand across Europe and the rest of the world."

Clore, who 29 years ago joined Sotheby's as a graduate trainee on the front counter from Manchester University, has led the European Impressionist and Modern art department for 20 years, and was the first woman ever to conduct a major evening sale of Impressionist and Modern art.

Although she will retain her title of co-chairman worldwide, Impressionist and Modern art, she will no longer have direct responsibility for the day-to-day running of a department with more than 60 staff. That role now falls to Helena Newman, who has worked closely with Melanie Clore for 22 years. She becomes European chairman of the Impressionist and Modern art department and will lead and drive this team in Europe.

Alexander Platon will become head of private sales in the European Impressionist and Modern art department as well as senior international specialist working with Helena and the team on major business-getting for the flagship evening sales.

Sam Valette will move to London from Paris and join the 'evening sale' team as a senior specialist, focusing on major international business-getting.