Report: Private Equity Firm Looking to Sell Bonhams

AuctionsFeb 10, 2023

Report: Private Equity Firm Looking to Sell Bonhams

Epiris reportedly is in the early stages of gauging market interest in the auction house, which it acquired in 2018.

20230210_Bonhams Cornette Saint Cyr.jpg
The inside of Cornette de Saint Cyr auction house in Paris. Cornette de Saint Cyr was one of five acquisitions Bonhams made after private equity firm Epiris bought it in late 2018. Now, Epiris is reportedly exploring the idea of selling Bonhams in a $1 billion deal. (© Fatima Jellaoui)
New York—Private equity firm Epiris is reportedly looking to sell Bonhams after buying the 230-year-old auction house a little over four years ago and growing the business via a series of acquisitions.  
Citing confidential sources close to the matter, Bloomberg reported Monday that the London-based private equity firm is working with advisers at JPMorgan Chase & Co. as it debates the idea of putting the auction house up for sale. 
Epiris will value the auction house at $1 billion in any deal, according to Bloomberg. Talks reportedly are in the “early stages” and may not result in any transaction.  
Bonhams directed press inquiries about the potential sale to Epiris. Epiris declined to comment on the report.
Epiris bought Bonhams, which was founded in London in 1793, in 2018 for an undisclosed amount. 
Since its purchase by the private equity firm, Bonhams made five acquisitions worldwide over a 14-month period.
 Related stories will be right here … 
Its first acquisition took place in April 2021 when it bought The Market, an online marketplace for classic cars and collectible motorcycles. 
It bought Bukowskis, an auction house with its flagship showroom in Stockholm, Sweden, in January 2022.

Then, in the same week in March 2022, Bonhams announced it was acquiring both Boston-based Skinner and Bruun Rasmussen, which is headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark. 
Its fifth acquisition took place in June of that year, buying the Cornette de Saint Cyr auction house in Paris. 

The acquisition helped push Bonhams’ sales over the $1 billion mark for the first time in company history.

The company said its sales registration levels rose by 57 percent year-over-year in 2022—almost four times its pre-pandemic (and pre-acquisitions) levels—and more than half of those who bought something from Bonhams last year were first-time customers at the auction house. 
North America and Europe were Bonhams’ biggest markets, each accounting for about 33 percent of sales, followed by the U.K. at 19 percent and Asia-Pacific at 16 percent.  
The auction house held a number of notable single-owner sales last year, including the personal property of late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Vegas mainstays Siegfried & Roy, and actor Sir Michael Caine. Caine’s possessions included a collection of watches that belonged to him and his wife, Lady Shakira Caine, as well as a number of pieces of jewelry she designed and wore. 
Among Bonhams’ top lots of the year was a rare emerald and diamond Cartier bracelet, which sold for $3.2 million.

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