About Us

Bonhams: Auctioneers for the 21st Century
 
Bonhams is a privately owned international auction house. Founded in 1793, it is one of the world's largest and most renowned auctioneers of fine art and antiques, motor cars and jewellery.

 

Welcome to Bonhams.

When I'm asked what distinguishes us from other international auction houses, I could mention our innovative sales, our world records or our Michelin-starred restaurant. But having joined Bonhams in 1988 – I started in the jewellery department at Bonhams Knightsbridge – I know that the most important element of the company are our specialists. This is where the true source of our strength resides. We offer items in 60 different categories – the broadest range for any international auction house – and every single department is fuelled by passion. Our specialists are leading connoisseurs in their field. They are also astute business people who know where and when to sell a work – and for buyers, they give advice as to whether or not a piece will fit with a particular collection. At times, we have also been counsellors, as we understand how it is sometimes emotionally difficult to part with items. But above all, each and every one of our specialists offers a bespoke service for you as we recognise that every item bought and sold at auction is a special event.

Thank you for visiting us – and do be in touch. It's you we value.

Matthew Girling,
Bonhams Global CEO

 

Bonhams has a heritage and reputation for connoisseurship and bespoke service known throughout the world. Founded in London in 1793, we are the sole remaining international auction house that is privately owned and in British hands. We hold more than 400 specialist sales a year in 60 different categories at our flagship salerooms in London, New York, Los Angeles, and Hong Kong.

The breadth of our reach means that Bonhams can offer items for sale wherever the works will attract the strongest interest and keenest bidding. Matching the item to the sale is an art in itself - and Bonhams has become a master at it.

With specialists in every major area of art, antiques, jewellery, motor cars and collectables, the depth of knowledge at Bonhams makes us a natural choice as the place to buy and sell.

 

LONDON, NEW BOND STREET

Located on New Bond Street in the heart of Mayfair, Bonhams' award-winning headquarters is the most technologically advanced saleroom in the world.

With an emphasis on light and space, it has three large auction rooms with state-of-the-art temperature controls, and lighting that can be changed to create the right atmosphere for each sale.

The saleroom also has a restaurant, open to the public, that holds a coveted Michelin star.

LONDON, KNIGHTSBRIDGE

Bonhams' other London saleroom is located in fashionable Knightsbridge, opposite Harrods. It stages more than 150 auctions annually, in Fine Art, Jewellery and Asian Art, as well as categories such as Fine Books and Manuscripts, Entertainment Memorabilia and Arms & Armour.

Regular Home & Interiors auctions bring together specialist areas including 20th Century Decorative Arts, Furniture, Silver, Ceramics and Pictures, offering unrivalled choice for collectors, interior designers, and people looking to furnish their home in a variety of styles, from antique to modern.

NEW YORK

Bonhams New York is located on Madison Avenue at 56th street in the heart of Manhattan. Behind the elegantly curved glass façade, Bonhams holds specialist sales in a wide range of categories, including Contemporary Art, Impressionist & Modern Art, Jewellery, Watches, American and European Paintings and Chinese Works of Art.

LOS ANGELES

Located on Sunset Boulevard, Bonhams Los Angeles is California's largest auction house, and offers a full range of auction and appraisal services with 58 resident specialists, representing more than 30 collecting categories.

Its sales include European and American Furniture and Decorative Arts, 20th Century Design, Hollywood Memorabilia, Jewellery, Books and Manuscripts, Asian Art, California Painting, Prints and Wine.

HONG KONG, ADMIRALTY

The first dedicated saleroom established by any auction house in Hong Kong, Bonhams provides the very best and latest in auctioneering expertise. Consistent with the brand ethos established at our New Bond Street headquarters in London, the saleroom features a technically advanced and highly flexible space with museum-quality lighting and the facilities for sophisticated online bidding.

 

THE HISTORY OF BONHAMS from 1793 to present day

1793 Bonhams is founded in Tavistock Street, Covent Garden by Thomas Dodd (1771-1850), one of the most famous print dealers of his day. 

1806 New auction rooms in St Martin's Lane.

1817 Dodd is faced with bankruptcy. He hands over to a former apprentice, George Jones, who mounts enormous sales. A typical print sale of May 1824 consists of 20,000 impressions as well as engraved copper plates.

1850s Jones goes into partnership with George Bonham. The company is known as Jones & Bonham.

1861 Bonhams moves to Oxford Street. The plain Georgian shop premises are rebuilt with fashionable Italian facades. Inside a series of auction rooms stretches right through to the houses on the north side of Soho Square.

1879 The firm becomes Messrs W & F C Bonham, a partnership between Frederick Charles Bonham and his nephew William.

1926 Bonhams moves to 14 Burlington Street, where it stays until 1940, when the building is bombed. The firm moves to its secondary gallery at 19 Whitfield Street off Tottenham Court Road, acquired in 1935. A mere ten days later these premises are also bombed and all records of the auction house are lost in the fire.

1954 The Montpelier Street salerooms are built on the site of a Georgian chapel.

1958 Premises are opened in Lots Road, Chelsea for sales of furniture, pictures and household effects, where 400 to 500 lots are sold each week.

2000 Bonhams becomes Bonhams & Brooks, after it is acquired by the auction house Brooks, founded in 1989 by a former director of Christie's, Robert Brooks.

2001 Bonhams & Brooks merges with Phillips Son & Neale to form a new company, Bonhams. Phillips is based at 101 New Bond Street, which becomes the new headquarters of the merged company. The building consists of seven different freeholds and is described as "a Dickensian rabbit warren". (The first of the sites to be acquired by Phillips was Blenstock House, a striking Art Deco building at the junction of Blenheim and Woodstock Streets.) An extensive renovation programme directed by acclaimed designer Clare Agnew is undertaken when Bonhams moves into the premises in 2001.

2002 Bonhams purchases Butterfields, a leading auction house on the west coast of the US, founded in 1865.

2003 Bonhams worldwide network includes two major London venues, (including Knightsbridge) and salerooms in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Sydney. A network of offices throughout Europe is established.

2007 Bonhams opens in Hong Kong in Two Pacific Place.

2008 Bonhams New York moves to new salerooms on the corner of 57th Street and Madison Avenue, formerly the home of the Dahesh Museum.

2009 Bonhams announces that it has taken market leadership in ten leading areas of the British art market for the first time.

2013 Bonhams opens its new headquarters at 101 New Bond Street, a state-of-the-art building, designed by Lifschutz, Davidson Sandilands. The building wins xxxxx and is long-listed for the 2015 Stirling Prize. The highlight of the first Old Master Painting sale in the new saleroom is Fragonard's portrait of Francois-Henri, 5th Duc d'Harcourt, which achieves £17,106,500, setting a world record price for the artist at auction. It is also the highest price for an Old Master painting sold at auction anywhere in the world in 2013.

2014 Bonhams opens a South East Asian HQ and saleroom in Hong Kong in One Pacific Place, Admiralty. Its South East Asian network now also includes offices in Beijing, Taiwan and Singapore. At its Quail Lodge Sale in California, Bonhams makes a world record for any motor car sold at auction by achieving $38,115,000 for the 1962-63 Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta.

2015 Bonhams completes a seven-figure refurbishment of its Knightsbridge saleroom.

2016 Bonhams holds its first online-only auction. The sale – Watches and Wristwatches from the Collection of a European Nobleman – is 100% per cent sold.

2017 Bonhams has 60 offices in Europe and the US, the largest-ever network for the company since it was created.

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