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The New York-based auctioneers, headed by leading art world figure Simon de Pury, have struck a deal with international developer Alessandro Cajrati Crivelli for 40,000 sq ft at No. 2 Howick Place, a former post office sorting station built in Victoria.

The auction house say the space will be their new European headquarters and they are planning sales of Contemporary art, photographs, design and jewellery, to include Saturday@Phillips sales.

The facility will also stage selling exhibitions for international photographers, designers and artists – something the auctioneers already do in New York.

The move to re-establish themselves in London is the latest development in a series of deals that saw the company involved in the merger with Bonhams in 2001, acquire the rump of Phillips from Bernard Arnault in 2002, and cut back operations in London to concentrate on art and jewellery later that year.

At the time Louise MacBain, who went on to build her own art empire, was chief executive, but she quit at the end of 2002. Six months later, what was then Phillips de Pury & Luxembourg opened new offices in Albemarle Street to source goods and promote auctions, but by then all sales had effectively moved to New York and Geneva, Mr de Pury’s home city.

Partner Daniella Luxembourg also quit the company in March 2004, with what then became Phillips de Pury concentrating on their acknowledged strengths in the Contemporary art, jewellery and design markets in New York.

By Ivan Macquisten