Bonhams is a privately owned international auction house and one of the world's oldest and largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. It was formed by the
merger Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are business transactions in which the ownership of companies, other business organizations, or their operating units are transferred to or consolidated with another company or business organization. As an aspect ...
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 art and antiques auctions. It operates two salerooms in
London London is the capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of England and the United Kingdom, with a population of just under 9 million. It stands on the River Thames in south-east England at the head of a estuary dow ...
—the former Phillips sale room at 101
New Bond Street Bond Street in the West End of London links Piccadilly in the south to Oxford Street in the north. Since the 18th century the street has housed many prestigious and upmarket fashion retailers. The southern section is Old Bond Street and the l ...
, and the old Bonham's sale room at the Montpelier Galleries in Montpelier Street,
Knightsbridge Knightsbridge is a residential and retail district in central London, south of Hyde Park. It is identified in the London Plan as one of two international retail centres in London, alongside the West End. Toponymy Knightsbridge is an ancien ...
—with a smaller sale room in
Edinburgh Edinburgh ( ; gd, Dùn Èideann ) is the capital city of Scotland and one of its 32 council areas. Historically part of the county of Midlothian (interchangeably Edinburghshire before 1921), it is located in Lothian on the southern shore o ...
. Sales are also held around the world in New York, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Paris, San Francisco, Sydney, and Singapore. Bonhams holds more than 280 sales a year in more than 60 collecting areas, including Asian art, Pictures, motor cars and jewelry. Bonhams has more than 550 staff with some of the world's leading specialists in their fields.


Bonhams was set up in 1793 when Thomas Dodd, an 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 wine. After returning from the war, in the early 1950s, Leonard Bonham purchased some land in Knightsbridge and erected a saleroom on Montpelier Street. The first sale was held in June 1956. 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 Phillips, formerly known as Phillips the Auctioneers (briefly as Phillips de Pury), is a British auction house. It was founded in London in 1796, and has head offices in London and in New York City. It was owned by the Mercury Group, a Russian ...
to form a new UK company trading as Bonhams. Phillips Son & Neale had been based in 101
New Bond Street Bond Street in the West End of London links Piccadilly in the south to Oxford Street in the north. Since the 18th century the street has housed many prestigious and upmarket fashion retailers. The southern section is Old Bond Street and the l ...
, 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, an Art Deco building at the junction of Blenheim Street and Woodstock Street, eventually acquiring the complete building in 1974. 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 with 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 US 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 LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (), commonly known as LVMH, is a French holding multinational corporation and conglomerate specializing in luxury goods, headquartered in Paris. The company was formed in 1987 through the merger of fashion hous ...
. As part of a phased programme of international expansion, Bonhams opened an office in Hong Kong in 2007. Seven years later, in 2014, it established an East Asian HQ and saleroom in Hong Kong in One Pacific Place. Bonhams East Asian and Southeast Asian network now also includes offices in Beijing, Taiwan and Singapore. In March 2008, Bonhams New York moved to new salerooms on the corner of 57th Street and
Madison Avenue Madison Avenue is a north-south avenue in the borough of Manhattan in New York City, United States, that carries northbound one-way traffic. It runs from Madison Square (at 23rd Street) to meet the southbound Harlem River Drive at 142nd St ...
- formerly the home of the respected Dahesh Museum of Art. The inaugural sale featured 20th century furniture and decorative arts. In 2013, Bonhams opened its new headquarters at 101 New Bond Street, a state-of-the-art building, designed by Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands; and in 2015 it completed a seven-figure refurbishment of its
Knightsbridge Knightsbridge is a residential and retail district in central London, south of Hyde Park. It is identified in the London Plan as one of two international retail centres in London, alongside the West End. Toponymy Knightsbridge is an ancien ...
saleroom. In 2016, Bonhams held its first online-only auction. The sale – Watches and Wristwatches from the Collection of a European Nobleman – was 100 per cent sold. In September 2018, Bonhams was acquired by the UK-based private equity company, Epiris. In January 2022, Bonhams acquired the Nordic auction house Bukowskis for an undisclosed sum. in March 2022, Bonhams acquired the
New England New England is a region comprising six states in the Northeastern United States: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. It is bordered by the state of New York to the west and by the Canadian provinces o ...
auction house Skinner Inc. for an undisclosed sum. The new company will be called Bonhams Skinner. Also in March 2022, Bonhams acquired the Danish auction house, Bruun Rasmussen for an undisclosed sum.


Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries. It has three salerooms in the UK; two major salerooms in London – New Bond Street and Knightsbridge, and a saleroom in Edinburgh. Regional offices around the UK offer valuation and consignment services. In Europe, sales are held in France, Monaco and Belgium. In the US, sales are held in Los Angeles, and New York. In Asia-Pacific, sales take place in Bonhams saleroom in Pacific Place, Hong Kong, and in Sydney.

Notable auctions

Bonhams notable sales include: * La fête d’anniversaire by Léonard
Tsuguharu Foujita was a Japanese–French painter and printmaker born in Tokyo, Japan, who applied Japanese ink techniques to Western style paintings. At the height of his fame in Paris, during the 1920s, he was known for his portraits of nudes using an opalescen ...
, sold for £7,096,250, a new world record price at auction for the artist at the Impressionist and Modern Sale at New Bond Street, 11 October 2018 * An important and exceptionally rare set of four huanghuali folding chairs sold for £5,289,250 at the Fine Chinese Art Sale, Bonhams London on 9 November 2017 * A blue and white garlic mouth vase, Yongzheng seal, sold in Hong Kong for HK$76,280,000 (£6,244,187) in 2014 * 1962-63 Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta, sold at Quail Lodge, California in 2014 for $38,115,000. This was the world record for the most valuable motor car sold at auction until August 2018 * Fragonard's portrait of Francois-Henri, 5th Duc d’Harcourt, achieved £17,106,500 in London in 2013. It remains the most valuable French Rococo painting sold at auction. * A fancy deep-blue ‘Trombino’ diamond ring was sold for £6,201,250 in London in April 2013. * The ex-
Juan Manuel Fangio Juan Manuel Fangio (American Spanish: , ; 24 June 1911 – 17 July 1995), nicknamed ''El Chueco'' ("the bowlegged" or "bandy legged one") or ''El Maestro'' ("The Master" or "The Teacher"), was an Argentine racing car driver. He dominated t ...
1954 Mercedes-Benz W196R sold at The Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2013 for £19,600,000 * , a painting by Russian artist Nikolai Roerich, achieved £7,881,250 in London in 2013 * An ultra-rare, record breaking
Vincent Black Lightning The Vincent Black Lightning was a Vincent-HRD motorcycle first built in September 1948 at the Vincent works in Great North Road, Stevenage, Hertfordshire, UK, and produced from 1948 to 1952. The bike was a purpose-built factory modified Bl ...
sold at Bonhams annual Las Vegas Motorcycle Auction, on Thursday January 25, became the most valuable motorcycle ever sold at auction. Its achieved $929,000 (£651,715 at the time) including buyer’s premium.

Further reading

* Darwent, Charles, "Bonhams Breaks With Tradition," ''Management Today'', July 1997, p. 56. * 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.


External links

Bonhams 101 New Bond Street

Bonhams Hong Kong

Bonhams motorcycle department
{{Authority control London auction houses Retail companies established in 1793 Auction houses based in New York City 1793 establishments in England British companies established in 1793