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She was named chief executive of Phillips in February when LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton sold their majority stake in the company to Simon de Pury, the chairman of Phillips, and Daniella Luxembourg, the president. With Ms McBain gone, Mr de Pury and Ms Luxembourg, become joint chief executives.

The news comes following a number of changes at the company, including the closure of their furniture department with a view to concentrating on jewellery and pictures. The company’s attempt to compete alongside Sotheby’s and Christie’s at the top end of the picture market has been blighted by a poor performance in their recent Impressionist and Modern art sale, which totalled only a seventh of its low estimate.