Published: March 16, 2022
LONDON — Bonhams, the global auction house, announced on March 16 that it had acquired the Boston-based auction house, Skinner. The company will be known as Bonhams Skinner. Financial terms are not being disclosed.
Skinner holds around 80 sales a year in 20 collecting categories, including Americana, Fine Art and Collectibles and Wine, and ranging from fine violins to contemporary paintings. Important sales have included a Qing dynasty vase that sold for $24.7 million in 2014, a record price at the time for Chinese art in the United States; the record-setting sale of “Manchester Harbor” by American artist Fitz Henry Lane that achieved $5.5 million in 2004, which remains the highest price for a work of art ever realized at a New England auction; and a bottle of whisky believed to be the oldest known (circa 1860s) which achieved $137,500 in June 2021.
Skinner was founded in 1962 by Robert W. Skinner Jr who hired Stephen Fletcher as his first employee. Fletcher is now executive vice president and chief auctioneer who owns the company with Karen Keane, its chief executive officer.
The acquisition will give Bonhams greater access to the North American market, through Skinner’s salerooms in Boston and Marlborough, Mass., and its highly effective digital platform for online sales. The purchase of Skinner will also build on Bonhams’ local to global business strategy, following on from the addition of Bukowskis, the leading auction house in the Nordics (based in Stockholm, Sweden) that was announced in January 2022.
Bruno Vinciguerra, chief executive officer of Bonhams, said, “Skinner is such an iconic presence in New England, and much-loved and celebrated for the rich treasures it offers. It also has a well-established digital footprint throughout North America that complements Bonhams’ presence which will allow both companies to reach more consignors and buyers. The acquisition will enhance the local to global strategy that underpins Bonhams’ strength in the core market, so I am delighted to welcome Skinner to the Bonhams family.”
Karen Keane, chief executive officer at Skinner, said, “Bonhams and Skinner are a great match. With its international reach, Bonhams brings the world to New England, and gives our world-class specialists global access. We are all really excited at the potential created by bringing these businesses together.”
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