Bonhams Announces Acquisition of Skinner

Bonhams Skinner Boston Gallery
Bonhams Skinner Boston Gallery

London Bonhams, the global auction house, has acquired the renowned US auction house, Skinner. The company will be known as Bonhams Skinner. Financial terms are not being disclosed.

Based in Boston, Massachusetts, 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 sold for $24.7m in 2014, a record price at the time for Chinese art in the US; the record-setting sale of Manchester Harbor by American artist Fitz Henry Lane that achieved $5.5m in 2004, which remains the highest price for a work of art ever realised at a New England auction; and a bottle of whisky believed to be the oldest known (c.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.

 Skinner Chief Executive Officer Karen Keane and Executive Vice President 
and Chief Auctioneer Stephen Fletcher
Skinner Chief Executive Officer Karen Keane and Executive Vice President
and Chief Auctioneer Stephen Fletcher

The acquisition of this much-loved auction house will give Bonhams greater access to the North American market, through Skinner’s salerooms in Boston and Marlborough, Massachusetts, 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.

Founded in London in 1793, Bonhams, one of the world’s leading auctioneers of fine art and collectibles, motor cars and jewellery, was acquired by the UK-based private equity firm, Epiris, in September 2018. Since that date, there has been substantial investment, specifically in digital, marketing, and new hires. The business operates globally from flagship salerooms in London, New York, Los Angeles, Paris, and Hong Kong, with additional sales in Edinburgh and Sydney. This year the auction house will hold more than 400 specialist sales across 53 different categories.

Bonhams, 101 New Bond Street, London

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.”

Leslie Wright, Chairman of Bonhams North America, said: “Bonhams’ operations in the US and Skinner’s in New England fit neatly together, and the two are hugely complementary in terms of their specialties, networks and digital capabilities. I look forward to building on each other’s strengths.”

Alex Fortescue, Managing Partner at Epiris, said: “Bonhams is a terrific embodiment of Epiris’ approach. We have invested in people and technology, brought clarity and focus to the strategy, and built and executed an M&A pipeline. All of this has realised our vision of creating a digitally enabled business occupying the leading global position and offering exciting prospects for further growth.”

14 thoughts on “Bonhams Announces Acquisition of Skinner

  1. An extensive American & international stamp collection”
    Is there a market today? and if there is please have your specialist contact/text me.
    Thank you
    William Hunter

  2. As we age and have built a business there comes a time to bow out pick up our marbels and move on. Good for you. I wish you success in where time and life (in good health) take you. It is well deserved. Best Ken Rosenblum a collector

  3. I have been a follower and big fan of Skinner for several years, and have made a few purchases through many on-line bids. How will this acquisition affect my experience? Will the website listings change? Will buyer’s commissions increase? Will the same great team of experts and appraisers still be there?

  4. This looks like a smart acquisition. I was worked with Skinner in the past and found their experts to be knowledgeable and hardworking. Wish you much success!

  5. This looks like a smart acquisition. I have worked with Skinner in the past to sell and found their experts to be very knowledgeable and hardworking.
    Best wishes in the future!

  6. Congratulations. I will miss the old Skinners who I have dealt with for over 60 years. I hope I can still sell my antiques, etc through you the way I always have. I will be selling some of the antiques and silver soon so do you have the same people, phone numbers, etc? Pat Sawyer

  7. Congratulations to all!
    Wishing you continued success in all of your important work of expanding access to the creative endeavors of all peoples and cultures.

  8. I understand the need to consolidate in a highly competitive field, and the transition has my best wishes. But I hope that Skinner’s gets to keep their own digital software, which is much faster and easier to work with (and has better photos) than I’ve found with Bonhams.


  10. Bonham’s – my favorite of “The Big Three”worldwide, and Skinner’s – my favorite American auction house, does sound like the perfect match to me. Faint Praise? Perhaps. But my family owned the second oldest auction house in the U.S. – C.G. Sloan & Company in the Baltimore/Washington area for many years, and I have traveled the world buying and selling at auction since 1988 – dealing with each of “The Big Three”, Skinners, and countless others, so, I guess I have some understanding of the Great, Good, Bad and The Ugly in the industry…

  11. Congratulations Karen and Steve. This note is from Beverly Viola who spent the summer internship with Skinner at Bolton, MA in 1979. At one of your auctions Beverly purchased a 16-inch argillite totem pole. We have since acquired a large collection of Native American artifacts including basketry, Navajo rugs, pottery and jewelry. It is time to downsize and would like your suggestions on getting evaluations, appraisals and ultimately, sale. We live in Southern California. Please respond.
    Beverly and John Viola

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