The current chairman of Christies, Lord Hindlip, has just pulled off a dramatic coup. Christies have been engaged by the Marquess of Bath to sell an estimated £15 million worth of art and antiques from Longleat. Compared with embattled Sotheby’s, the senior auction house is again displaying its superior edge in how things should be done. The former Honorary Charles Allsopp (before inheriting from his father) is unlikely to have dirtied his hands by discussing price-fixing himself, but he is honest enough not to pretend to have known nothing about what was going on down Bond Street way, after 40 years with Christies in their St James’s redoubt. He is famous for easing the final price for Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ up from £15 million to a record-breaking £25 million in 1987 with not so much as a cough or a sneeze. That is what the business is really about; a free market unbridled: in a different league where he has always excelled, as have Christies, excelled.