Rare Book Monthly

Articles - April - 2022 Issue

What Are They Building in There?: Bonhams in March

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The field is changing

This March, within ten days of each other, Bonhams Auctioneers announced the acquisition of two auction houses, Skinner in the US (https://www.bonhams.com/press_release/34061/) and Bruun Rasmussen in Denmark (https://www.bonhams.com/press_release/34101/). These two acquisitions can be added to the January 2022 purchase of Bukowski, a leading Scandinavian auction house, and The Market, a leading digital marketplace for classic automobiles in April 2021.  So what might be transpiring here and what might be the intended outcomes?

 

In 2018 Epiris, a London based private-equity firm, bought Bonhams (https://www.forbes.com/sites/anthonydemarco/2018/09/04/bonhams-sold-to-private-equity-firm/?sh=714037ab61f4). Last month’s movements by Bonhams may mark the entrance into the second half of Epiris’ 5-7 year venture capital strategy toward potentially taking Bonhams public. With the injection of capital provided by Epiris, Bonhams bought the four aforementioned auction houses, as it is cheaper to buy than build the infrastructure required. Coming into 2022, Bonhams, although global, was not diverse or dominate enough as a potential IPO candidate. These acquisitions change that picture considerably as they add adjacent market depth and breadth to the Company.

 

As there are an assortment of suitably sized regional, national, moderately international firms currently available, watch for this strategy by venture capital fuelled auction houses as we move further into 2022/23. One driver of this is intergenerational handover in which the second generation is not able or willing to keep going, hampered significantly by the pressure imposed by the Pandemic. In some cases, Houses, knowing they need a partner, opt for selling to a larger House controlled by an equity firm. This option can bring immediate cash and with it the bonus of liquidity when the acquirer goes public if a share for share exchange was executed as part of the acquisition.

 

In the case of Bonhams, Epiris appears to be executing a classic ‘Roll Up’ strategy providing the Seller (a regional/national house) with cash and likely stock that will become valuable and liquid when the “new and digitally improved” Bonhams is potentially taken public by Epiris in an exit event.

 

In the meantime, Bonhams gets to pick the best systems, people and infrastructure in the firms they buy to roll out their recently articulated vision statement of: "Creating a digitally enabled business occupying the leading global position and offering exciting prospects for further growth.”

 

Expect more from Epiris/Bonhams in the coming months and net new participants of a similar size engaging in similar tactics.

 

For more insight into the general trends that influence these transformations, visit my ongoing article series AUCTION INDUSTRY OUTLOOK: http://spencerwstuart.ca/aio/

 

 

About Spencer W Stuart: http://spencerwstuart.ca


Posted On: 2022-04-02 18:04
User Name: bjarnetokerud

Roll up, roll up for the Mystery Tour

The Bonhams Magical Mystery Auction House is waiting to take you away

(With thanks to Lennon/McCartney)

With new footholds in the land of Ingmar Bergman and Gustavus Adolphus, the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen and one of the hometowns of the Vikings, followed by a high profile presence near where the Boston Tea Party took place, this very market confident, well funded statement is more of an invitation to Bonham's customers to consign for maximum exposure or to bid with confidence in major city centers that promise treasures at many levels. Who cares if an IPO and a stock market symbol are outcomes? Why should antiquarian booksellers be fearful or even concerned? If that is the point… Bonhams is welcome to buy out my book business anytime! British Columbia stands for Bring Cash.


Posted On: 2022-04-03 16:14
User Name: bjarnetokerud

I tried to read this article again but after the facts are done what is left is pseudo London School of Economics prattle. A far better article would have been to interview someone at the top of Bonhams for a perspective on the rare book market. Instead, we get crystal ball gazing as if the writer got his creds from working at a hedge fund, which apparently he has not. Investment charts, auction sell through rates, and so on are boring because they don’t tell us what collectors and libraries are buying, or selling, and why.


Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>View Our Record Breaking Results</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> Scott Joplin, <i>Treemonisha: Opera in Three Acts,</i> New York, 1911. Sold March 24 — $40,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Louisa May Alcott, autograph letter signed, 1868. Sold June 2 — $23,750.
    <b>Swann:</b> Anne Bradstreet, <i>Several Poems Compiled with Great Variety of Wit and Learning, full of Delight,</i> Boston, 1758. Sold June 2 — $21,250.
    <b>Swann:</b> William Shakespeare, <i>Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies. Published according to the true Originall Copies. The Second Impression,</i> London, 1632. Sold May 5 — $161,000.
    <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>View Our Record Breaking Results</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> John Bachmann, <i>Panorama of the Seat of War,</i> New York, 1861-62. Sold June 23 — $35,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Charlotte Bronte, <i>Jane Eyre,</i> first edition, London, 1847. Sold June 16 — $23,750.
    <b>Swann:</b> Elihu Vedder, <i>Simple Simon, His Book,</i> 1913. Sold June 9 — $12,350.
    <b>Swann:</b> Frederick Catherwood, <i>Views of Ancient Monuments in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan,</i> London, 1844. Sold April 7 — $37,500.

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