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The news arrived as it was announced that antiquarian book specialists Bernard Quaritch, another of London’s best-known and long-established dealerships, had been sold to a Malaysian businessman.

At short notice Stair & Company closed their Mayfair gallery on September 6. The three outgoing members of staff say the closure is not a reflection on recent trading conditions but upon the decision of the American owner David Murdock to concentrate on other interests. Mr Murdock, the Los Angeles-based financier and a noted collector of English furniture, acquired both the London and New York branches of the company in 1980.

Now in his eighties he has decided to focus on his core business activities within the United States that include Dole Foods which he acquired last year for $2.5 billion. In addition to withdrawing his financial support he has chosen to personally acquire all the current stock, effectively winding up the company.

However, the name of one of the world’s best-known fine English 18th and early 19th century furniture dealerships, remains available.

The firm of Stair & Andrew – founded by Arthur Stair and Valentine Andrew who had met at Waring & Gillow – first opened in Soho Square in 1911 and then New York the following year.

Arthur Stair was a founder member of the British Antique Dealers’ Association in 1918 and was on the committee to set up the Grosvenor House Antiques Fair in 1934 where the company have exhibited every year since. Under Alastair Stair, Arthur’s son, the company opened galleries on Mount Street in 1968, moving to larger premises at number 14 in 1993. While this gallery is now officially closed both Robert Luck, the managing director who has been with the company for nearly 30 years, and Georgina Gough will be available on 0207 499 1784 to deal with enquiries until the end of October.

Bernard Quaritch sold

Meanwhile it was announced last week that W1 bookdealers Bernard Quaritch Ltd have been bought by Goldman Sachs senior advisor John Koh and his company Abaca Capital. The deal sees the Malaysian businessman add to his purchase of coin and medal specialists Spink & Son in March 2002. Mr Koh was advised by Felix Oyens, former head of Christie’s books department.

Mr Koh, 49, becomes the new chairman of Quaritch, and associates who are passive investors will hold minority positions. But the new owner stressed that Quaritch will continue as an independent business. Quaritch have said that the firm will remain with its present staff at Lower John Street in London, W1 and there are no plans to combine it with Spink.

Mr Koh takes over from Milo Parmoor, who has owned Quaritch for the last 28 years through a holding company. It is thought that Quaritch had been up for sale for a number of years, but Mr Parmoor said: “At 75 it was time to relinquish control, and Quaritch is lucky that John Koh has assumed it. He relishes the history of the firm and has the energy and enthusiasm needed to carry this history forward.”

Founded in 1847 when Bernard Quaritch started out as a bookdealer with modest resources, and a family-owned business for more than 100 years, Quaritch’s clients now include the British Library.