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The £36m of London business, compares to £24.3m for the same period last year, with the increase boosted considerably by a strong showing in their recent sales of paintings.

However, an accurate picture of the UK sales’ overall performance has not yet been published, with Phillips explaining that like-for-like figures for overseas business and UK branches would not be available because of completely different sale schedules from last year “which would not offer a true portrayal of sales growth”.

This may refer in part to the company’s recent change in policy whereby items of high interest and value consigned to regional rooms are sent to London for sale – a policy which, of course, would boost London’s sales figures, but at the expense of the regions. Exactly how far this has contributed to the 48 per cent sales increase for New Bond Street and Bayswater is not clear.

Whatever the impact of the consignment policy, however, there can be no doubt that Phillips have made some impact at the top end of the market.

Since the beginning of June the company has made some landmark sales, including breaking through the one million pound mark twice in the same 19th century British painting sale, setting a record for Frederic, Lord Leighton, when his painting Bracelet was hammered down at £1.2m and, only five lots before, taking £1.5m hammer for Ophelia, by John William Waterhouse.

Other highlights included The Seine Boat, by Stanhope Forbes, which sold for £1.1m at the Modern British and Irish sale in June.