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Mr Feigen will introduce part of the collection at the International Fine Art Fair at the Park Avenue Armory in New York from May 12 to 17 when he will devote his whole stand to work from the Steinberg collection.

Mr Feigen will sell the pictures both at the fair and from his gallery at nearby East 68th Street. He says he cannot remember a private collection of such a size and importance coming on the market.

One reason Mr Steinberg chose Richard Feigen is that he is keen to sell to museums, and Mr Feigen, a friend of the Steinbergs who sold many of the pictures to them in the first place, is known for his museum contacts.

The fair also has a reputation for strong museum patronage.

The 16th and 17th century works include many of the great names of art, including a Titian at more than $12m and a Jacob Jordaens at $6-8m.

The Steinbergs sold eight of their Dutch and Flemish Old Masters at Sotheby’s New York in January 1997 for some $10m and on May 26 they will sell their antiques at Sotheby’s New York rooms. Last month Saul Steinberg sold his 34-room Manhattan apartment for more than $30m.