Bonham’s owner looking to sell auction house for $1bn

British auction house Bonham’s is up for sale by its private equity owner Epiris, according to a Bloomberg report. 

Epiris has selected JPMorgan Chase & Co to advise the sale of the 230-year-old British house, valued at $1bn. Last year, Bonham’s annual sales topped $1 billion, Bloomberg said. A spokesperson for Epiris declined to comment on the deal. 

Since Epiris bought the auction house in 2018, it has been led through a period of expansion and has taken over a number of regional auction houses across Europe, Asia and America. These include Nordic house Bukowskis in Sweden, Skinners Inc in New England, Bruun Rasmussen in Denmark, and more recently, the French auction house Cornette de Saint Cyr. The company now has 14 salesrooms and 34 offices worldwide, including locations in Hong Kong, Los Angeles and, more recently, Paris. 

2022’s record sale was a 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder, fetching a jaw-dropping $4.19 million in America. Another category that delivered impressive results was Chinese art, where a 13th-century Bodhisattva figure from the Jin Dynasty was sold to an Asian collector for a premium inclusive of $3.55 million at The Robert and Jean-Pierre Rousset Collection of Asian Art at Cornette de Saint Cyr.

A 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder sold for US$4.19 million last year

A Bodhisattva figure from the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234) sold for €3.34 million to an Asian collector.

Last year alone, Bonham’s held a total of 710 auctions, with 385 online only. 91% of lots sold online accounted for 44% of the value of total lots sold. North America and Continental Europe had the highest turnover during the year, both accounting for 33% each of the total, while the UK stood at 19%

The auction house said that registrations for new buyers were up by 57% during the year, almost four times higher than pre-pandemic. In 2022, 52% of buyers at Bonahm’s were first-time buyers. 

Main image: Bonhams’ headquarter in London and Cornette de Saint-Cyr on Avenue Hoche in Paris