Bonhams owner floats sale of auction house at $1bn

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The British auction house Bonhams is to be offered for sale by its owners, the private equity firm Epiris, according to Bloomberg.

JP Morgan Chase & Co has been selected to advise the deal, in which Epiris seeks to value the 230-year-old company at $1bn. For the first time, Bonhams’ total revenue for 2022 topped $1bn. A spokesperson for Epiris declined to comment on the deal or confirm the validity of Bloomberg’s report. Advisers at JP Morgan asked Bloomberg to not be identified. The sale process is reportedly in “early stages” and could fall through; its timeframe remains unclear.

Epiris wholly bought the auction house in 2018 and has since led it through a period of expansion, during which it has acquired a number of smaller regional auction houses. These include the Nordic house Bukowskis, Skinners Inc, based in New England, and Danish house Rasmussen. Most recently Epiris acquired, on behalf of Bonhams, the French auction house Cornette de Saint Cyr in June 2022. This drove up Bonhams total sale rooms across the world to 14–including locations in Hong Kong, Los Angeles, and most recently in Paris, where it opened last year.

These acquisitions provoked speculation within the industry as to whether they hinted to a potential resale. Speaking of this, during the time of the Cornette de Saint Cyr acquisition, Bonhams’ chief executive Bruno Vinciguerra told The Art Newspaper: “It will happen one day, but this is not what drives our strategy. I’m personally convinced we’re going to work on this for 20 years, as a company; it’s a longterm thing.”

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