Francis Outred
Francis Outred, the outgoing Christie’s chairman and head of post-war and contemporary art in Europe. Image: Christie's by Gautier Deblonde.

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Outred said: “The time is right for a pause, a refresh and a new beginning. I want to take a break with my family and I am excited to start a new chapter in my career.”

Guillaume Cerutti, chief executive officer at Christie’s, said: “On behalf of everyone at Christie’s, I would like to thank Francis for his outstanding commitment and contribution. His work has been characterised by creativity, relevance and audacity.”

Outred joined Christie’s in January 2009 to oversee the management and strategy of its post-war and contemporary art team in Europe and was promoted to 2014 to chairman.

He was responsible for the consignment of the most expensive work of art ever sold in his field, Francis Bacon’s Three Studies of Lucian Freud, which achieved $142.4m at Christie’s New York in November 2013.