LONDON — Skinner Auctioneers of Boston, Massachusetts, has expanded its global reach after recently being acquired by Bonhams, one of the world's largest and most renowned auction houses.
Now known as Bonhams Skinner, Bonhams announced that the acquisition is part of its local-to-global strategy, following the addition of Bukowskis, the leading auction house in the Nordics (based in Stockholm, Sweden), in January. It will also 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. In turn, Skinner will benefit from Bonhams' large network and global reach, while maintaining its one-on-one personal approach with consignors and buyers.
“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,” said Karen Keane, Skinner's chief executive officer.
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."
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 Keane. The house holds around eighty sales a year in twenty 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 $24.7 million 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 $5.5 million in 2004, which remains the highest price for a work of art ever realized at a New England auction; and a bottle of whiskey believed to be the oldest known (c. 1860s) that achieved $137,500 in June 2021.
Founded in London in 1793, Bonhams, one of the world’s leading auctioneers of fine art and collectibles, motor cars and jewelry, 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’ operations in the U.S. and Skinner’s in New England fit neatly together, and the two are hugely complementary in terms of their specialties, networks and digital capabilities," said Leslie Wright, chairman of Bonhams North America. "I look forward to building on each other’s strengths.”