Bonhams buys Nordic auction house Bukowskis

The private-equity-owned auction house's acquisition of the Swedish firm is a first move in its bid to extend its global network

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Bukowski's flagship saleroom in Stockholm

Courtesy of Bukowskis

Bukowski's flagship saleroom in Stockholm

Courtesy of Bukowskis

In a sign of consolidation in the auction sector, the London-based firm Bonhams has acquired the leading Nordic company Bukowskis.

The Swedish firm, founded in 1870, is headquartered in Stockholm and has salerooms in the Swedish capital and in Helsinki, with offices in three other Nordic cities. It has nine specialist departments and a staff of 100, led by chief executive Louise Aren; inevitably its particular strength is in Scandinavian artists, with its top sale in 2021 being an Anders Zorn for £2.9m (with fees).

The financial terms of the acquisition were not revealed, but Bukowskis’ turnover was $21.7m in 2021. Bonhams, with a total staff of 850 worldwide, is set to reveal its own turnover at the end of this month for the first time. The Art Newspaper understands this is in the region of $800m (about £600m) for 2021. Bonhams was acquired by the private equity firm Epiris in 2018 for an undisclosed sum and until now has never officially revealed turnover, which as a private firm it is not obliged to do. Neither company reveal profits.

Louise Aren, chief executive

Courtesy of Bukowskis

Bonhams operates eight salerooms in five countries, in Los Angeles and New York, Paris, Hong Kong and Sydney as well as its UK bases in Edinburgh, Knightsbridge and New Bond Street, plus 37 offices around the world. The firm said in a press release: “The acquisition is part of a long-standing strategy to extend Bonhams’ position as a global player.” And, the statement says, the acquisition is just the first in a shopping spree by Bonhams, which could be a push to bolster the company ahead of resale, although the firm declined to comment on this.

Another auction acquisition took place at the end of last year, when the London- and New York-based art advisory firm Gurr Johns bought London-based Forum Auctions, having previously bought the UK auction houses Dreweatts and Bloomsbury in 2017.

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