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Why Bonhams is the Only Auction House for Luxury Items


Bonhams is one of the most respected and trusted art houses in the world. Starting with just one showroom in London in 1793, Bonhams has grown exponentially in size with clients across the globe, making it the auction house of choice for discerning, savvy clientele.

How it all began…


Bonhams was born in 1793 when a book specialist, Walter Bonham and antique print dealer, Thomas Dodd decided to join forces and start Bonhams. By the 1850s Bonhams were auctioning all types of antiques from jewellery, furniture, armour and arms, wines and porcelain, and were widely gaining a reputation of one of the UK’s leading auction houses.

Then the big merge happened…


In 2000 Bonhams was acquired by Brooks auction house and the name changed to Bonham & Brooks. Brooks auction house was established in 1989 by Robert Brooks and it specialised in the sale of classic and vintage cars. Late in 2001, Bonhams & Brooks merged with Phillips Son & Neale to form Bonhams as we know it today. In 2002 Bonhams acquired Butterfields auction house and changed the name of Butterfields to Bonhams and Butterfields. In 2009, Bonhams acquired market leadership in key areas of the UK art market including cars, European ceramics, antiques, watches and clocks and Japanese art.

Bonhams as we know it today…


Today, Bonhams operates in over 25 countries worldwide with 8 major auction houses. In London, Bonhams has an auction house in Knightsbridge and New Bond Street.  In the USA, Bonhams auction houses are located in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco. Other auction houses are located in Paris, Sydney and Hong Kong. All of Bonham’s auction houses are set in prime locations, which has been a key part Bonhams’ success and positioning in the art market.

Bonhams has specialists in every major category of antiques, collectables and arts and with this impressive level of expertise they have been able to break records auctioning certain goods. Record sums have been achieved in all categories, from jewellery to art, motor cars and antiques.

Some memorable auctions held by Bonhams:


  • In 2003, a deep-blue diamond ring sold for £6.2 million.
  • November 2004, a Ming dish from the Hongwu period set the record for Ming porcelain sold at an auction at a price of $5.7 million.
  • The Sailboat, a painting by Natalia Goncharov sold for £1.7 million on June 2008.
  • In June 2008, pianos that were owned by Sir Elton John were auction by Bonhams.
  • In July 2010 an Edward Munch, Madonna, rare hand coloured print sold for £1.25 million.
  • And unknown Velazquez, the 99th Velazquez, sold for £3 million in December 2011.
  • December 2013, Portrait of François-Henri d’Harcourt, sold for a record £17,106,500.
  • Juan Manuel Fangio’s car that he drove to his second Formula 1 title sold for a record £19,601,500 in July 2013.
  • August 2014, a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta, was sold for £22,843,633 and became the most expensive car in history.

This is just a small sample of the figures achieved by Bonhams at auction, and are what sets Bonhams apart to make it the true leader in the world of luxury auctions.

Will your item be their next record breaking sale?