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|Industry||Auctioneering, Specialty Retail|
|Founded||London, United Kingdom
|Founder(s)||Thomas Dodd and Walter Bonham|
|Headquarters||101 New Bond Street, London, United Kingdom|
|Number of locations||66 locations worldwide
(as of 2012)
|Key people||Robert Brooks,
|Products||Fine arts, pictures, collectables and motor cars|
Bonhams New York
Bonhams San Francisco
Bonhams Los Angeles
Bonhams Hong Kong
Bonhams is an auctioneer of fine art and antiques. It was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. This brought together two of the four surviving Georgian auction houses in London, Bonhams having been founded in 1793, and Phillips in 1796 by Harry Phillips, formerly a senior clerk to James Christie. Today, the amalgamated business handles fine art and antiques. It operates two large salerooms in London—the former Phillips sale room at 101 New Bond Street, and the old Bonham's sale room at the Montpelier Galleries in Montpelier Street, Knightsbridge—with smaller regional sale rooms in Chester, Edinburgh and Oxford. Sales are also held in other cities around the world.
Bonhams is a privately owned British auction house and one of the world’s oldest and largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The Bonhams name is recognised worldwide throughout all sectors of the fine art, antiques and collectors’ market, with several of its departments established world leaders within their specialist category.
One of the few surviving Georgian auction houses in London, Bonhams was set up in 1793 when Thomas Dodd, a renowned antique print dealer, joined forces with the book specialist Walter Bonham.
The company expanded and by the 1850s was handling all categories of antiques including jewellery, porcelain, furniture, arms and armour and fine wines.
In the early 1950s the Bonham family purchased some land in Knightsbridge and erected a saleroom on Montpelier Street.
In 2000 Bonhams became Bonhams & Brooks when it was acquired by Brooks auction house. Brooks had been founded in 1989 by the former Head of Cars at Christie’s, Robert Brooks who specialized in the sale of classic and vintage motorcars. Brooks continued a major acquisition programme aimed at creating a new international fine art auction house.
In 2001 Bonhams & Brooks merged with Phillips Son & Neale to form a new UK company trading as Bonhams. Phillips Son & Neale had been based in 101 New Bond Street, which subsequently became the new headquarters of Bonhams. The building consisted of seven different freeholds and had been described as "a Dickensian rabbit warren". The first of the sites to be acquired was Blenstock House, a striking Art Deco building at the junction of Blenheim Street and Woodstock Street. Phillips took over the ground and lower ground floors in July 1939, gradually claiming more floors until the whole building was acquired in 1974. In the 1980s, 101 New Bond Street was added. An extensive renovation programme directed by Clare Agnew was undertaken when Bonhams moved into the premises.
Acquisition activity continued, and in 2002 Bonhams purchased Butterfields, a leading auction house on the West Coast founded in 1865. Bonhams changed Butterfields’ name to Bonhams & Butterfields, and Malcolm Barber, formerly of Brooks, became the chief executive officer of the American subsidiary. Bonhams remained the company’s brand name outside of the United States.
By the end of 2003 Bonhams was conducting more than 700 annual sales, had over 600 employees, and revenues of $304 million. The company’s worldwide network of sales included two major London venues, nine additional UK locations, and salerooms in Switzerland, Monaco, Germany, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sydney. Bonhams & Butterfields conducted its first East Coast sale in 2003 with an auction of Edwin C. Jameson’s collection of classic cars and antiques in Massachusetts.
During 2005, Bonhams continued to expand its presence in the USA and acquired a new saleroom on Madison Avenue in New York. The company also expanded further in Europe with the opening of the Paris office in June 2005.
In October 2005, Bonhams gained full independence after buying back a 49.9% stake held by French luxury goods conglomerate LVMH.
In 2007 Bonhams opened an office in Dubai as part of a joint venture with the family of former Ambassador to the UK Mohammed Madhi Al Tajir. The first sale held in Dubai on 3 March 2008 was of Modern & Contemporary Arab, Iranian, Indian & Pakistani Art, and achieved total sales of over US$13million – almost three times the expected amount.
Bonhams opened a new office in Hong Kong in 2007, to further support its expansion into the Asian market. The business in Hong Kong works with clients in mainland China, Japan, India, South Korea, Indonesia and Singapore.
In March 2008, Bonhams New York moved to new salerooms on the corner of 57th Street and Madison Avenue - formerly the home of the respected Dahesh Museum. The inaugural sale featured 20th century furniture and decorative arts.
By 2007 Bonhams sales totalled US $600million.
With Christie’s, Bonhams is a shareholder in the London-based Art Loss Register, a privately owned database used by law enforcement services worldwide to trace and recover stolen art.
Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries. It has two major sales rooms in London – New Bond Street and Knightsbridge, as well as a further four throughout the UK in Chester, Knowle, Edinburgh and Oxford, and nineteen regional offices. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York in the USA; and Dubai, Hong Kong, Paris, and Sydney.
• On 11 August 1836 Phillips, now owned by Bonhams, auctioned a large collection of furniture from Buckingham Palace including a magnificent glass dome, gothic lanterns and bergier chairs.
• A George Stubbs painting entitled ‘A dark bay thoroughbred in a landscape’ sold for £1,931,650 in Bonhams New Bond Street, London on 9 July 2003.
• Bonhams held a very successful British Airways Concorde sale on 1 December 2003 at which world record prices were achieved for fittings and fixtures from Concorde.
• On 14 July 2004 Bonhams sold a Roman glass cage cup which had formerly been in the British Rail Pension Fund for £2.6million.
• At the Goodwood Revival on 3 September 2004 Bonhams sold a 1929 Mercedes Benz Two-Seat Sports Tourer 36045 for £4,181,500.
• On 17 November 2004 Bonhams sold a magnificent 18inch Ming dish from the Hongwu Period and set the American record for the sale of a piece of Ming Porcelain at auction.
• The bust of the Indian Prince and Sikh hero, Maharaja Duleep Singh, fashioned by British sculptor John Gibson almost 150 years ago, was sold for £1.7m at Bonhams on 19 April 2007.
• In May 2007 Bonhams launched a twice yearly South African Sale, becoming the first international auction house to hold a sale of South African art outside of the country.
• Bonhams held a special sale offering selected items from the renowned London store, Fortnum & Mason, on 26 September 2007. The sale raised funds to be reinvested in new acquisitions for the refurbished Fortnum & Mason premises in time for its 300th anniversary.
• In December 2007 Bonhams held an auction of selected contents from The Savoy Hotel, London. Three thousand items of furniture from the hotel were sold just days after the hotel closed for a £100 million refurbishment.
• Bonhams Dubai broke 33 world records with its inaugural Middle East Auction in March 2008. The sale witnessed the first Middle East artist to achieve an auction sale of over US$1 million with Iranian artist Farhad Moshiri’s stunning Swarovski crystals and glitter on canvas ‘Eshgh’ (Love) achieving US$1,048,000. Breaking the world record for an auctioned Pakistani work of art, Gulgee's 'Polo Player' sold for US$336,000 – more than four times the reserve.
• A dagger that once belonged to the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan who built the Taj Mahal sold for £1,700,000 at Bonhams Indian and Islamic sale in London on 10 April 2008.
• An exceptional oil painting, The Sailboat, by the world’s most expensive female artist, Natalia Goncharova (1881–1962) sold for £1.7m at the Bonhams Russian Sale on 9 June 2008.
• Pianos belonging to Sir Elton John were auctioned in the Entertainment sale at Bonhams, Knightsbridge on Wednesday 18 June 2008.
• Bonhams sold a two-seater Vickers-Supermarine MkIX Spitfire aircraft for £1,739,500 on 20 April 2008 at the RAF Museum, Hendon, London.
• The contents Of Oscar Wilde’s favourite haunt - the iconic Café Royal – were sold on 20 January 2009 in a sale which achieved a total of £220,000.
Founders: Thomas Dodd and Walter Bonham
Headquarters: 101 New Bond Street, London W1S 1SR
Products: Fine Arts, Cars
Key People: Chairman, Robert Brooks Vice Chairman New Bond Street, Chairman Asia, Colin Sheaf Vice Chairman New Bond Street, Chairman Knightsbridge and Europe, Matthew Girling Group Managing Director, Malcolm Barber
Darwent, Charles, "Bonhams Breaks With Tradition," Management Today, July 1997, p. 56. Kopytoff, Verne, "eBay's Offline Plan Fails, Butterfields Sold," San Francisco Chronicle, 1 August 2002, p. B1. "London Auction Houses Join to Become More Competitive," Daily Mail (London), 13 September 2000. Menon, Jon, "French Tycoon Proposes Merger of Two Auction Houses," Sunday Business (London), 8 July 2001. Meyers, Laura, "Bonhams Goes Global," Art Business News, January 2004, p. 42. Moeran, Brian, "Jousting at Bonhams, London," Ceramics Monthly, January 1990, p. 18. Stanbridge, Philip, "A Hot London Summer," Ceramics Monthly, October 1991, p. 28. Windsor, John, "Stop Press! Art Market Says Size Does Matter," Independent, 8 May 1993, p. 34.