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Billionaire sells auction house

February 04, 2003|Suzanne Muchnic

In a final move to divest himself of his troubled art auction business, French billionaire Bernard Arnault has sold his remaining 27.5% interest in Phillips, de Pury & Luxembourg to the auction house's chief executive officers, Simon de Pury and Daniella Luxembourg.

Arnault's luxury goods group, LVMH Moet Hennessy-Louis Vuitton, bought 75% of the London-based auction house in 1999 and poured millions of dollars into an attempt to unseat the world's two biggest auction houses, Sotheby's and Christie's, at the top end of the art market. But the effort failed and Arnault cut his losses in May 2002, when he sold 47.5% of his stock to De Pury and Luxembourg.

Phillips officials said they plan to restructure the company and probably move the London and New York offices to less expensive quarters.

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