Auctions

British Private Equity Firm Acquires Bonhams

AuctionsSep 05, 2018

British Private Equity Firm Acquires Bonhams

The news follows speculation earlier this year that the auction house was looking for a buyer.

20180831_Domyan-Jewels-1.jpg
British private equity firm Epiris announced it has acquired auction house Bonhams. Pictured here is a Harry Winston necklace once belonging to two-time Olympic gold medalist Katherine Domyan. It is among the pieces that will go up on the block at the auction house this fall.

London—Bonhams announced Tuesday it has been acquired by British private equity group Epiris.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.  

Epiris Fund II, advised by Epiris LLP, purchased the auction house from private shareholders. A press release said this is the fund’s fourth investment.

Founded in 1793, Bonhams holds more than 250 sales a year at its flagship salerooms in London, New York, Los Angeles and Hong Kong.

CEO Matthew Girling and CFO Jonathan Fairhurst will continue to head the company.

Following the acquisition, Bruno Vinciguerra will join Bonhams as executive chairman. He served as COO at Sotheby’s for eight years and, prior to that, held senior roles at Bain, Dell and Disney.

The news follows speculation earlier this year that Bonhams was looking for a buyer, and in the press release announcing the news, shareholder and Chairman Robert Brooks said they “have always had the intention one day to pass on the business to a new owner who shares our long-term vision for Bonhams.”

The auction house sold more than 50,000 lots in 2017, generating more than £450 million ($576.8 million) in hammer sales.

Jewelry auctions play an integral role in Bonhams’ business, and the company claims to hold more dedicated jewelry sales internationally than any other auction house. Its jewelry division reportedly makes up about 43 percent of the annual market share of auction sales in Britain, according to a March 2017 profile of the auction house by The New York Times.

“We are delighted to have found a buyer that recognizes the potential offered by this business and its employees. Bonhams is one of the world’s oldest auctioneers, and one of the most ambitious,” Girling said.

“During the past 20 years, we have pursued a growth strategy that has turned the company into a truly global organization. The value of Bonhams rests with its people, their skills, their extraordinary expertise and their strong networks across the world. Epiris has a demonstrable and successful track record in investment in growing brands and we believe that together we can continue to expand the business whilst still offering the highest possible level of service wherever we operate.”

Brecken Branstratoris the senior editor, gemstones at National Jeweler, covering sourcing, pricing and other developments in the colored stone sector.

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