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His attention focused particularly on the market duopoly with Sotheby's which meant squeezed profits for both.

Accounts would later differ widely as to the precise nature of his interventions on this subject: Tennant maintained that he was completely innocent of any direct involvement in the fixing of commission structures for auction clients, or of encouraging Christie's chief executive Christopher Davidge to collude with his Sotheby's opposite number, Dede Brooks.

The two firms paid out more than 0 million to settle a civil suit, and in May 2001 indictments were issued by a grand jury in New York against both Taubman and Tennant, naming them as the masterminds of the scheme.

He retreated as far as possible from the public spotlight, having first faced the humiliation of stepping down from all his remaining corporate and public appointments, including his role at Morgan Stanley and the chairmanship of the Royal Academy Trust. His forebears were Ayrshire farmers who gained wealth and social advancement through the invention of bleaching powder in 1799 by Charles Tennant, whose most famous descendant in modern times was Colin Tennant, the 3rd Baron Glenconner and owner of Mustique.

Anthony's branch of the family was less flamboyant: he was the son of Major John Tennant and his wife Antonia (née Benson), daughter of Lord Charnwood, a Liberal politician.

It was at IDV that Tennant's reputation for exacting financial management came to the fore, but he also exercised his marketing talent with the launch of new brands such as Bailey's Irish Cream, Malibu and Le Piat d'Or.

In the course of a decade he turned the company from a federation of distilleries into a much tighter operation, responsive to changing consumer tastes and in control of its own distribution networks.

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