Jonny Yarker and Lowell Libson.

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Yarker came on board in 2012, 11 years after Libson founded the business.

“At that time, I had no thoughts of a succession plan but wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to recruit someone who was bright, energetic, and interested in the things that I like,” Libson says.

“As it happens, the decision was a good one and both Jonny and I have found working together to be a rewarding experience. After about five years I wanted to ensure that this successful combination of talents could continue and I looked for ways in which to try, not only to reward Jonny for all he was doing for Lowell Libson Ltd, but to properly enfranchise him.

“My intention was that Jonny’s name should be over the door. I regarded it as an imperative, regardless of the financial arrangement, that Jonny should be acknowledged and be seen as a vital part of the business.”

In cases like this, changes to staffing can mean changes to the structure of the business itself.

Libson adds: “I originally wanted to just give Jonny shares in the existing business but that proved more difficult to structure than I had envisaged. I eventually alighted on the notion of starting a new company, Lowell Libson & Jonny Yarker Ltd which would initially be financed by taking a commission when selling the old company’s stock. Jonny and I are in effect equal financial partners.”


Titania and her Attendants by George Romney (1734-1802), c.1790, oil on canvas, 3ft 11in x 4ft 11in (1.19 x 1.5m), offered for £950,000 by Lowell Libson & Jonny Yarker.

The decision continues to bear fruit, and though Libson says he is far from stepping back, the arrangement offers some security.

“Although I have no intention of retiring, I see Jonny as very much the ‘rainmaker’ and the future of the company,” he says. “We both bring individual strengths to the enterprise. By chance of circumstance, good luck, and a bit of opportunism I found someone who has greatly contributed to my enjoyment of art dealing and to commercial and financial success. It was never about succession planning.

“As it happens, I was recently asked by a friend as to how we achieved this, and I gather that he has now also adopted a similar method to ensure the future of his business. Like so much in this industry, it largely depends on trust and compatibility.”