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Following the deal the share price rose 4p, with the company’s market capitalisation being valued at £28m on May 31.

Mr Petchey, a property entrepreneur with a reputation for spotting undervalued companies, has also recently taken a stake in two hotel chains, including a 4.6 per cent holding in Jarvis.

Lanto Synge, chief executive of Mallett, said he was delighted by the confidence shown in his company by Mr Petchey, who is also known to look for sound medium- to long-term investments.

Mallett, who were founded in Bath in 1865 and have been established in London since 1910, show at many of the leading international art and antique fairs. They have long leases on their New Bond Street and Davies Street galleries and have just announced plans for a gallery on Madison Avenue in New York.