Bonhams Auction House May Be Up for Sale (Again)

artnet News | Henri Neuendorf

British auctioneer Bonhams may be putting itself on the auction block.

The financial advisory firm NM Rothschild has been drafted to find a buyer for the 225-year-old company, according to the Sunday TimesBonhams is presently owned by former race car driver and ex-Christie’s executive Robert Brooks and the Dutch Louwmans family, who operate one of the largest auto dealerships in the Netherlands. Brooks and the Louwmans previously considered selling the company in 2014, when they appointed the Greenhill investment bank to conduct an audit of the business. At the time, China’s largest auctioneer, Poly Culture Group, emerged as a leading potential buyer. A number of private equity firms—including Bain Capital, CVC Capital, and Bridgepoint, the parent company of Pret-a-Manger—also reportedly considered acquiring the house. But the board ultimately decided against selling the business.

When discussions about a possible sale emerged in 2014, Bonhams had reported profits of £25 million ($33.5 million) and an all-time high turnover of £127 million ($170.3 million) for the previous year. The bid, the Financial Times reported at the time, would have valued the company at “several hundred million pounds.” This time around, Bonhams is currently enjoying another uptick in revenue, according to The Art Newspaper. The firm reportedly made $6.4 million in profit last year, up from $2.6 million in 2016.