Auctions

Auction House Bonhams Announces Second Acquisition in a Week

AuctionsMar 23, 2022

Auction House Bonhams Announces Second Acquisition in a Week

The company recently scooped up Boston-based Skinner and Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers, a Danish auction house.

20220323_Bonhams acquisitions.jpg
Skinner headquarters in Boston, left, and an auction in progress at Bruun Rasmussen in Copenhagen, Denmark. Bonhams recently acquired both companies for undisclosed amounts, marking the second and third auction houses it’s bought this year.
London—Bonhams has announced two acquisitions this month, bringing its year-to-date total to three following January’s purchase of Bukowskis in Stockholm, Sweden.

On March 16, the London-based private equity-owned auction house announced the acquisition of American auction house Skinner, which is based in Boston, has a saleroom in Marlborough, Massachusetts and conducts online sales.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Robert W. Skinner Jr. opened Skinner in 1962. His first employee, Stephen Fletcher, is now executive vice president and chief auctioneer, and owns the company alongside CEO Karen Keane.

Skinner holds about 80 sales a year across 20 categories, including jewelry and gemstones. 

Notable sales include a Qing Dynasty vase that set a record when it sold for $24.7 million in 2014, the $5.5 million sale of the painting “Manchester Harbor” by Fitz Henry Lane, and what is believed to the oldest known bottle of whisky (c. 1860s), which sold for $137,500 in June 2021.

Bonhams said Fletcher, Keane and the entire Skinner staff will be joining Bonhams, and the auction house will operate as Bonhams Skinner. 

Bonhams, which already has salesrooms in New York and Los Angeles, said buying Skinner will give it greater access to the North American market.

“Skinner is such an iconic presence in New England, and much-loved and celebrated for the rich treasures it offers,” Bonhams CEO Bruno Vinciguerra said.

“It also has a well-established digital footprint throughout North America that complements Bonhams’ presence, which will allow both companies to reach more consignors and buyers.”

 Related stories will be right here … 

Bonhams followed the Skinner news with Tuesday’s announcement that it has purchased Bruun Rasmussen, the leading auction house in Denmark. 

Financial terms of that deal were not disclosed either.

Bruun Rasmussen is headquartered in Copenhagen’s Nordhavn district, selling live via its salesrooms in the city center as well as online. The company is also the subject of a documentary series that has aired on Danish TV since 2013, “Auktionshuset.”

It sells more than 75,000 lots each year across a wide variety of categories, including jewelry as well as watches and clocks.

Established in 1948 by Arne Bruun Rasmussen, the auction house is currently chaired by the founder’s son, Jesper Bruun Rasmussen, who has headed the company since 1985.

Following the acquisition, Jesper will stay on as chairman emeritus, and Jakob Dupont will remain CEO.

In addition, Bonhams will retain the entire Bruun Rasmussen staff and the auction house will be known as Bruun Rasmussen—part of the Bonhams Network.

“This is Bonhams’ third recent acquisition and its fourth under the ownership of Epiris,” said Owen Wilson, a partner at Epiris.

“Bruun Rasmussen is a highly complementary addition to the Bonhams family, building on its presence in the important Nordic market and offering plentiful opportunities to develop synergies between the two auction houses’ networks and brands.”

Epiris is the private equity firm that purchased Bonhams, which was founded in London in 1793, in 2018.

Since then, the company has been sinking money into expanding Bonhams’ digital capabilities, marketing, new hires and acquisitions.

In addition to Bukowskis, Skinner and Bruun Rasmussen, Bonhams bought The Market in April 2021, an online platform for classic cars and motorcycles.

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