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While the reasons for her departure are as yet unclear, it brings to an end a 15-year career at the auctioneers.

In a statement, the company said: "We can confirm that Lisa King has decided to leave Christie's later this month. She has made a truly significant contribution to Christie's over her 15 years with the company and we wish her the very best in her future endeavours. We know she will remain a friend to Christie's for many years to come."

King joined Christie's International in 1996 and held the position of international managing director for auctions and private sales until January 2010, when she was named in the new and greatly expanded role as chief operating officer and group managing director of Christie's International.

With responsibility for delivery of the company's international business plan, she was based in London.