Bonhams sets to further extend its global reach by acquiring the French auction house, Cornette de Saint-Cyr. This marks Bonhams’ fourth acquisition this year – following Bukowskis in Sweden, Skinner in Boston and Bruun Rasmussen in Denmark.
Established in 1973, Cornette de Saint-Cyr has always been a family company. Last year, its Paris and Brussels salerooms achieved a sale total of €35 million. In this year's autumn sale, the auction house will present an auction to bring the Rousset’s family collection of Asian art to Paris.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Rousset’s family collection of Asian art will be auctioned this October, led by a large wood figure of a Bodhisattva, Jin Dynasty (€1 - 1.5 million)
Rousset’s family collection of Asian art will be auctioned this October, led by a large stone head of a Bodhisattva, Northern Qi Dynasty (€200,000 - 300,000)
Bonhams' headquarter in London and Cornette de Saint-Cyr on Avenue Hoche in Paris
The acquisition will build on Bonhams’ portfolio in France – in 2021, the auction house expanded its French operations by opening a saleroom in Paris on Rue de la Paix, the centre of the city. Along with the acquisitions of Bukowskis and Bruun Rasmussen in the northern Europe, the auction house has already created a sizeable network in Europe.
With around 20 staff, Cornette de Saint-Cyr has a total of 16 departments, including Contemporary Art, Impressionist & Modern Art, Jewellery and Collection Clocks, Automobilia & Cars, Books & Manuscripts, Furniture, Works of Art & Old Master Paintings, Wine & Spirits, Photographs, among others.
In addition to local comics, the French auction house also offers manuscripts for Japanese anime and manga, such as Dragon Ball, Galaxy Express 999, Captain Tsubasa, Princess Mononoke, One Piece and Bleach.
The top three lots at Cornette de Saint-Cyr last year are as follows:
- Frederic Bazille, Self Portrait, 1870 | €1,611,400
- Schiaparelli, Collection Haute Couture Hiver 1938-1939 | €542,200
- Sri Lakshmi, Kingdom Of Vijayanagar, Southern India (Probably Karnataka), Ca 15th Century | €467,800
Frederic Bazille, Self Portrait, 1870
Schiaparelli, Collection Haute Couture Hiver 1938-1939
Sri Lakshmi, Kingdom Of Vijayanagar, Southern India (Probably Karnataka), Ca 15th Century
The French auction house also offers manuscripts for Japanese anime and manga
In its nearly 40-year history, Cornette de Saint-Cyr has offered an array of important collections. Among them were the Collection of abstract paintings belonging to French actor Alain Delon; the Estate of the painter Foujita; furniture from the Hotel Royal Monceau and the Couture Collection belonging to Hélène Rochas.
After the acquisition, the company will operate as Bonhams Cornette de Saint Cyr. Arnaud Cornette de Saint Cyr will continue to lead the company as CEO, while Wilfrid Vacher will head as Managing Director in Brussels.
In an earlier interview with Bruno Vinciguerra, the Global CEO of Bonhams spoke of its recent acquisitions:
“The determination to extend our global reach was firmly behind the acquisitions we have made this year. Bukowskis, Bruun Rasmussen and Skinner are all great auction houses – much loved by their loyal and passionate clients. The three are in the Bonhams’ mould and a natural extension of our world’s local auction house approach. The benefits are mutual – Bonhams gains access to a whole new data base of clients; our new auction houses get access to our international network.”
The sale dedicated to the Estate of the painter Foujita
Cornette de Saint-Cyr offering the Collection of abstract paintings from French actor Alain Delon (left)
Bruno Vinciguerra (left) and Arnaud Cornette de Saint Cyr, the CEO of Cornette de Saint-Cyr (right)
Bonhams was founded in 1793 by Thomas Dodd, an English auctioneer and print dealer. Over the past 200 years, the house has underwent various business restructuring. In 2000, Bonhams became Bonhams & Brooks when it was acquired by Brooks auction house. In the following year, Bonhams & Brooks merged with Phillips Son & Neale (also known as Phillips the auctioneers) to form a new UK company trading as Bonhams.
Since 2018, Bonhams has been owned by Epiris Fund II, a London-based private equity fund under Epiris. Epiris is a top-decile private equity firm which focuses on investment in in UK-headquartered businesses valued between £75 million and £500 million.
The investors of Epiris Fund II are mainly from America and the UK. Raised in 2017, the fund has already made a number of major investments. Apart from its takeover of Bonhams, it also acquired the Time Inc. UK magazine; Portals De La Rue, a manufacturer of paper; as well as The Club Company, a country club operator.
After sold to Epiris, Bonhams has continued to make acquisitions – from Nordic auction houses Bukowskis and Bruun Rasmussen to Skinner in America. Such a strategy indicates that Bonhams is determined to expand its business by targeting at the middle and low-end markets, which is more lucrative as they generally bring in higher sales volume.