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A spokesman for the auction house told the Antiques Trade Gazette they had no comment to make about a Daily Telegraph report that the troubled auction house is set to make sweeping changes and reduce staffing to about 75.

A dismal sale of Impressionist and Modern art in November and the resignation in December of chief executive and financial backer Louise MacBain are thought to have prompted a change in strategy. Part of that strategy is expected to be the restriction of activity to four departments: American paintings, Contemporary Art, photography and modern furniture. With the possible closure of the Impressionist and Modern art department and the transfer of the jewellery department to Geneva, Phillips’ position as a viable competitor to Sotheby’s and Christie’s at the top end of the art market appears to have suffered a serious blow. The auctioneers have not held any sales in London as part of an agreement with Bonhams, and the future of their offices in Grosvenor Street is unclear.