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The collapse of the deal could spell the end of Gavelnet which ran into trouble after previous backers pulled out earlier this year, resulting in the closure of the London office and the suspension of the company’s acquisition of Antiques Portfolio, the Internet portal site for dealers.

Tangible’s chief executive, Silvano DiGenova, regretted his company’s decision, blaming lack of confidence in Gavelnet’s projected performance levels: “The company’s actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in the forward-looking statements as a result of certain factors including sales level, distribution and competition trends and other market factors.”

It was in June that Michael Haynes, the new president and chief operating officer of Gavelnet, reassured the Antiques Trade Gazette that rumours of the company’s impending closure after the suspension of UK operations were premature. It was all part of merger arrangements, he said, and promised that the London office would re-open within two weeks.

However, the phones at the office remained unanswered and the Gazette has found no evidence of activity in the UK since.

Ironically, the news of the deal’s failure comes in the same week that the Gazette-commissioned survey on the art and antiques trade on the Internet, which was conducted earlier this year, rated Gavelnet’s Website highly.

Further attempts to contact Mr Haynes at Gavelnet’s US office this week have proved unsuccessful.