For the latest classic car news, features, buyer’s guides and classifieds, sign up to the C&SC newsletter here
Bonhams has bought specialist online seller The Market, as the auction world continues its expansion on to the web.
The Market’s director Tristan Judge said the move, “marries our state-of-the-art approach with Bonhams’ heritage and global classic car expertise.”
He added: “The Market will continue to operate as it currently does, but will be bolstered by Bonhams’ resources and customer base. We are now able to offer a full suite of classic car auction options.”
He and founder Tim Joslyn, along with the existing team, will continue with the ‘Powered by Bonhams’ business.
The announcement followed a record month for the so-called ‘classic auction disruptor’ in which £1.8m changed hands, £500k more than ever before, in a year when it has licensed its platform into Europe and moved into a new larger base in Oxfordshire.
The company was launched in 2016 off the back of digital car history project Patina.
Maarten ten Holder, who has this month moved from RM Sotheby’s to become managing director of Bonhams Motoring, said: “This acquisition is a perfect fit for Bonhams and is happening at an exciting time in the car auction world. For the first time a classic car auctioneer will now offer cars at all price points, around the clock, to collectors wherever they are in the world.”
Bonhams was bought by private equity firm Epiris in 2018, and managing partner Alex Fortescue admitted the digital evolution has been a long-held plan.
“This acquisition is another step towards fully realising this vision,” he said, “further advancing the digital transformation we started with Bruno [Vinciguerra, Bonhams CEO] almost three years ago, whilst building scale in an important specialist area. We are thrilled that Tim and his team will join the Bonhams family and share this vision.”
One of the leading auction houses in the world, Bonhams has been ramping up its online sales and intentions in recent months. While RM Sotheby’s and Gooding & Co quickly moved its cancelled sales online when COVID hit, with a combination of one-day sales and week-long bidding events, Bonhams preferred to maintain a dedicated sale date.
Speaking early in the pandemic last year, James Knight, who has since stepped down as group chairman of Bonhams Motoring but remains in a consultant role, said: “We considered both options but we still rather like the atmosphere and the competitiveness that can be engendered with a live sale.”
A year on, and following the success of its maiden timed sale in early March that Bonhams said attracted double the registrants, European auctions manager Paul Darvill admitted: “We anticipate online-only sales will become an important part of our calendar from now on.”
The acquisition of The Market bears that fruit in a way that allows Bonhams to hit the ground running and tap into an existing, growing audience, and also to introduce its own traditional customer base to online auctions.
The marquee auctions such as at Goodwood and Paris will be unaffected, likewise those at Bicester Heritage, but the latter’s MPH sales will be in many ways trying to attract the same sellers. That is a help rather than a hindrance for Vinciguerra, who said: “This combination will allow us to become even more accessible to a wider range of clients. I am very excited about the future.”