Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

He has had to divide his time between London and San Francisco, heading up the business on both sides of the Atlantic since Bonhams acquired Butterfields, one of the United States’ oldest auction houses, from eBay at the beginning of last year.

At the time, Bonhams chairman Robert Brooks told the Antiques Trade Gazette: “The acquisition of Butterfields, with its salerooms in San Francisco and Los Angeles, gave Bonhams its first permanent presence in the United States. We now intend to build on that presence and make the Bonhams name truly global.”

It is a pledge the company have done their best to fulfil in the ensuing 12 months, building on their US network, undercutting their main rivals in London on the buyer’s premium, scrapping the vendor’s commission for lots over £70,000 at Bond Street, and expanding into Australia by building on their existing agreement with Sydney-based auction house Goodmans.

How that brand-building programme will be affected by these latest changes is not clear, but with Mr Barber free from his regular transatlantic commute, all eyes will now be on America.

How Mr Knight will set his stamp on Bond Street also remains to be seen. He takes up the reins from Roger Hollest, whose period of deputising for Mr Barber during the latter’s visits to the US has now come to an end.

Mr Hollest will now return to run Bonhams’ Bath operation.