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In November the auction house announced they were offering to ‘buy out’ the jobs of volunteers in the 1600-strong global work force.

Employees had until December 9 to apply for the scheme and 80 employees, or 5% of Sotheby’s staff, have been accepted.

According to a filing made to the Securities and Exchange Commission in New York last week, the redundancies will cost an initial $40m but would result in a lower cost structure.

The redundancies will occur in “jurisdictions where it was practical to do so”, according to the filing. Sotheby’s press office would not comment on whether the role reductions would affect the UK operations.

The departures will start on December 31 and continue into 2016.

The volunteers who came forward were accepted for redundancy after approval by Sotheby’s management and their numbers are believed to have been sufficient to avoid the company having to make any compulsory layoffs.