Bonhams buys French auction house Cornette de Saint-Cyr, the fourth acquisition this year | Auctions News | THE VALUE
By: Kayan Wong
June 28, 2022 | Tue | 18:51
Bonhams is further expanding its global reach by acquiring French auction house Cornette de Saint-Cyr. This is Bonhams’ fourth acquisition this year, following Bukowskis in Sweden, Skinner in Boston and Bruun Rasmussen in Denmark.
Founded in 1973, Cornette de Saint-Cyr has always been a family business. Last year, its sales rooms in Paris and Brussels achieved a total of sales of 35 million euros. During this year’s fall sale, the auction house will offer an auction to bring the Rousset family’s Asian art collection to Paris.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Rousset’s family collection of Asian art will be auctioned in October, led by a large wooden figure of a Bodhisattva, Jin Dynasty (1 – 1.5 million euros)
Rousset’s family collection of Asian art will be auctioned in October, led by a large stone head of a Bodhisattva, Northern Qi Dynasty (€200,000 – 300,000)
Headquarters of Bonhams in London and Cornette de Saint-Cyr avenue Hoche in Paris
The acquisition will build on Bonhams’ portfolio in France – in 2021 the auction house expanded its French operations by opening an auction house in Paris on rue de la Paix in the center of the city. Alongside the acquisitions of Bukowskis and Bruun Rasmussen in northern Europe, the auction house has already built up a strong network in Europe.
With around twenty employees, Cornette de Saint-Cyr has a total of 16 departments including Contemporary Art, Impressionist & Modern Art, Jewelery and Collectible Watches, Automobilia & Cars, Books & Manuscripts, Furniture, Works of Art & Old Paintings, Wines & Spirits, Photographs, among others.
In addition to local comics, the French auction house also offers manuscripts of Japanese anime and manga, such as Dragon Ball, Galaxy Express 999, Captain Tsubasa, Princess Mononoke, One Piece and Bleach.
The three best batches of Cornette de Saint-Cyr last year are as follows:
- Frederic Bazille, self-portrait, 1870 | €1,611,400
- Schiaparelli, Winter Haute Couture Collection 1938-1939 | €542,200
- Sri Lakshmi, Kingdom of Vijayanagar, South India (probably Karnataka), around the 15th century | €467,800
Frederic Bazille, self-portrait1870
Schiaparelli, Winter Haute Couture Collection 1938-1939
Sri Lakshmi, Kingdom of Vijayanagar, South India (probably Karnataka), Around the 15th century
The French auction house also offers Japanese anime and manga manuscripts
In nearly 40 years of history, Cornette de Saint-Cyr has offered a range 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 Hôtel Royal Monceau and the Hélène Rochas Couture Collection.
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 lead as Managing Director in Brussels.
In a previous interview with Bruno Vinciguerra, the global CEO of Bonhams spoke about his recent acquisitions:
“The determination to expand our global reach was firmly behind the acquisitions we made this year. Bukowskis, Bruun Rasmussen and Skinner are all major auction houses, highly regarded by their loyal and passionate customers. All three are in the Bonhams mold and a natural extension of our world’s local auction house approach. The benefits are mutual – Bonhams has access to a whole new customer database; our new auction houses have 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 by French actor Alain Delon (left)
Bruno Vinciguerra (left) and Arnaud Cornette de Saint Cyr, 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 undergone various commercial restructurings. In 2000, Bonhams became Bonhams & Brooks when it was acquired by auction house Brooks. The following year Bonhams & Brooks merged with Phillips Son & Neale (also known as Phillips the Auctioneers) to form a new UK company as Bonhams.
Since 2018, Bonhams has been owned by Epiris Fund II, a London-based private equity fund under Epiris. Epiris is a first-decile private equity firm which focuses on investing in companies headquartered in the UK and valued between £75m and £500m.
Investors in Epiris Fund II are mainly American and British. Raised in 2017, the fund has already made several major investments. Besides its takeover of Bonhams, it also acquired Time Inc. UK magazine; Portals De La Rue, a paper manufacturer; as well as The Club Company, a country club operator.
After being sold to Epiris, Bonhams 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 grow its business by targeting mid to low-end markets, which are more lucrative as they generally generate higher sales volume.