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Mr Jussel has become familiar to millions of Americans as a television expert hosting the US version of Antiques Roadshow, but Sotheby’s are also banking on his long experience of the Trade prior to launching into a television career in 1996.

“His background is particularly well suited to Sotheby’s at this time of exciting change,” said David Redden who has been the driving force behind Sotheby’s dramatic entry into the world of Web auctions, pointing to his “depth of knowledge and experience of the world of antiques, an understanding of dealers and the critical role they play in our marketplace and a fascination with new technology”

Chris Jussel, who ran the long established family antiques business Vernay & Jussel for 20 years until its closure in 1994, is a former president of the National Antique and Art Dealers Association of America. Having joined Sotheby’s he will no longer be hosting the Roadshow broadcasts, but will continue to appear on the programme until January 2001.

He has been asked to join Sotheby’s as a focal point for the dealers who have signed up to participate in sotheby’s.com and Sotheby’s.Amazon.com.

“Chris will play an important role in developing these relationships and in representing their specific interests and point of view,” said David Redden.

Sotheby’s have been keen to promote the concept of a partnership with the dealing community. They report that they now have 3600 dealers worldwide signed up to sell exclusively to sell on the two sites, though the exact timing and character of the launch has yet to be announced.