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Former Masterpiece art dealer James Harvey will also join the team as a picture specialist.

With over 35 years' experience in the fine art and auction industry, Mr Bailey was a key member of the Sotheby's European management team for many years but in March 2013 took a step outside the company by launching the middle-market timed-bidding website The Auction Room.

Dreweatts and The Auction Room have recently assumed close ties. The two firms worked in partnership to promote the sale of items from the collection of the Royal Agricultural Society of England and in July, after previously taking serviced office space in a number of West End locations, The Auction Room moved its offices to Bloomsbury House in Mayfair's Maddox Street. "We have been delighted with the outcome of those auctions we have already conducted over The Auction Room and look forward to participating in the platform's further development," said Stephan Ludwig, who now assumes the role of chief executive at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury.

It is perhaps apposite that Stanley Gibbons (who acquired Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions plus numismatic specialist Baldwin's in November 2013) do not currently have an equivalent online selling platform.

Their soon-to-be launched website Marketplace will be tailored to the multiples market (specifically trading stamps and coins) rather than the varied merchandise handled on a day-to-day basis by a fine art and chattels auctioneer.

However, Mr Ludwig described the new arrangement as a 'working relationship' rather than a financial one, with Dreweatts keen to explore a number of different online options (including a recent tie-up with New York-based site Paddle 8). Led primarily by co-founder Lucinda Blythe, The Auction Room will operate their own calendar of sales and other third-party events.

Mr Bailey will be based at both Maddox Street and Donnington Priory, Newbury. Having cut his ties with Sotheby's (until June he was charged with looking after "a few top-end clients"), he will now assume the role of Dreweatts' senior business-getter, a position the firm have looked to fill since the departure of Clive Stewart-Lockhart to Woolley & Wallis in 2012.

"The art market is unquestionably still a 'people business' and in George we are fortunate to be gaining the experience of a highly respected senior figure in the industry," added Mr Ludwig.

Also joining the senior management team at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury is James Harvey, who becomes international head of traditional art.

Mr Harvey began his career in the time-honoured fashion as an auction room porter in 1987 but was mentored by Christopher Wood in his Motcomb Street gallery before spending almost 20 years overseeing the sourcing and selling of paintings for Mallett.

After coordinating the firm's launch in Madison Avenue, he returned from New York and set up James Harvey British & Sporting Art which has been trading internationally for the past six years. The gallery exhibited at Masterpiece in July but Mr Harvey has opted to change tracks and relinquish his lease on Langton Street, Chelsea.

Replacing former head Archie Parker, who has moved to Bonhams after eight years with Dreweatts, he is tasked with further developing the firm's calendar of fine art sales as well as promoting an evolving emphasis on private treaty transactions.