Issue #241  5/28/2018
Bonhams Auction House May Be up for Sale Again

By Alex Novak

Bonhams New York City Auction Facility.
Bonhams New York City Auction Facility.

The British-owned auction house Bonhams may be sold, according to a news report in The London Sunday Times. The 225-year old auction house is controlled by chairman Robert Brooks, a former motor racing driver, and the Dutch Louwmans family, one of the largest automotive distributors in Europe.

The financial advisory group NM Rothschild has reportedly been selected to work on the possible sale. We reported similar activity nearly four years ago in this newsletter, when it was rumored that Poly Culture was set to buy the company. Poly Culture, based in Mainland China, is a former subsidiary of Poly Group, a Chinese government-controlled company with interests from property to arms exports. The board of Bonhams reportedly decided against the sale then.

Brooks bought Bonhams in 2001, merging the auction house with his own business. Since then, the auction house has undergone a series of other mergers, acquisitions and takeovers and now includes nine salesrooms in London, New York, Hong Kong, Edinburgh, Los Angeles and Sydney, among other places. In 2013, the auction house's London headquarters underwent a £30-million renovation.

The potential sale once again comes after an uptick in revenue. Last year the firm made £4.8 million profit, up from £1.9 million in 2016, according to UK's Companies House.