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Most pertinently for UK dealers, the verdict is expected to inform and hasten the European Union investigation into auction house price fixing, although an appeal by Mr Taubman against his conviction could further delay any judgement from Brussels. The outcome of the competition commission investigation into Sotheby’s and Christie’s would determine the likely success of legal action against the two auction houses in Britain.

A spokesman for the EU competition commission declined to say whether the investigation was close to being concluded.

The Office of Fair Trading has confirmed that it will not be re-opening its 1997 price-fixing investigation into Sotheby’s and Christie’s, despite revelations at the Taubman trial that the regulatory body was deceived by Christie’s managing director, Christopher Davidge, at the time.

The Taubman verdict has also smoothed the passage to court of two appeals whose outcome will be crucially important for any British lawsuits.

Musical manuscript dealers J&J Lubrano and collectors Pamela and Michael Alper are concerned that the terms of the original $512m settlement with Sotheby’s and Christie’s for overcharging at US auctions will effectively prevent them from suing the two auction houses in the US courts for sales held in Britain.

While the success of these appeals would raise hopes for compensation among the vast majority of UK dealers who have never used the American salerooms of Sotheby’s and Christie’s, these appeals are actually holding up the distribution of the $512m to those dealers who have.

Overshadowing these issues is the fate of Sotheby’s itself. Although he has made no statement to that effect, Mr Taubman is expected to sell his controlling stake in the company, now that he faces a potential three-year jail sentence and a possible fine of $1bn, but will there be any buyers?

LVMH, the parent group of rival auctioneer Phillips de Pury Luxembourg, reportedly made an offer last year and have remained at the centre of take-over speculation. However, a senior source at LVMH privately admitted last week that any offer for the loss-making firm would be highly unlikely.