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Christie’s cleared €100m in France for the first time, with sales up 33 per cent to €115m (£77.7m).

Artcurial jumped over Tajan SA to claim second place with sales of €77.6m (£52.4m), a rise of 85 per cent on their disappointing showing in 2004. Tajan SA, who lost former chairman François Tajan to Artcurial during the year, saw sales climb six per cent to €69m (£46.6m), but dropped out of the top two for the first time.

These three firms pulled clear of the field with the next two firms – Sotheby’s with €43.7m (£29.5m), and Piasa with €32.9m (£22.2m), both reporting a fall in sales.