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LVMH’s Bernard Arnault pulls out of Bonhams

The luxury-goods mogul had owned a 49.9% stake in the auction house


The French luxury-goods mogul Bernard Arnault virtually completed his withdrawal from the art market last month by selling his 49.9% stake in Bonhams, the world’s third biggest auction house. Mr Arnault’s company LVMH sold its shares back to Bonhams for an undisclosed sum, bringing to an end LVMH’s unsuccessful foray into the art market. In 1999 it bought the auction house Phillips and attempted to build it into an upmarket challenger to Sotheby’s and Christie’s, but this ended with heavy losses and Mr Arnault withdrew. He sold his shares in Phillips in 2003 but retained just under 50% of Bonhams, although he was not involved in the running of the company. LVMH’s only remaining foothold in the art market is its ownership of the French art magazine Connaissance des Arts.

Appeared in The Art Newspaper Archive, 163 November 2005