Dublin and Edinburgh rooms all but double sales totals as Bonhams raise stakes in Scotland
Edinburgh auctioneers Lyon & Turnbull stole a march on
their rivals last year, posting impressive sales figures of £11.5m
from January to December 2006.
The hammer total was close to double the £6.2m posted in the same
12-month period in 2005 and represented the seventh consecutive
year that turnover at Lyon & Turnbull has increased since five
directors defected from Phillips to establish the company with
chairman Sir Angus Grossart in 1999.
It has also been an eventful 12 months, including both the £3.2m
sale of the Drambuie Collection in January and - buoyed up by an
increasing number of consignments from England - the investment of
£200,000 in a London consignment and viewing office in Pall Mall.
The year ended with a £2.35m picture sale in December that included
L.S. Lowry's 1947 Glasgow Docks, sold on behalf of the Fleming
collection to a London buyer at £530,000, a new house record. In
2006, Lyon & Turnbull, who shelved general sales earlier this
year in favour of two-tier catalogue sales, sold £6.3m worth of
The saleroom has two house sales in the pipeline for 2007, one in
Scotland and another - the Keith Skeel Collection - to be conducted
at Loudham Hall, Suffolk. The sale of items from Skeel's remarkable
holdings of decorative antiques is expected to bring over £2m over
three days in April. It is no surprise that Bonhams Edinburgh have
decided to raise the competition by quitting their city centre
rooms for a new auction centre in 2007 - probably further out but
with good access.
Another business to show growth this year was The Fine Art Auction
Group, parent company of the Dreweatt Neate and Neales salerooms,
whose January to December sales were £18.1m, up from £16.1m in
2005. Unlike previous year-on-year increases ascribed to the
acquisition of an established business, the 2006 figures reflected,
in part, the benefits of increasingly specialised art and antiques
But, as ever, securing single stellar consignments really made the
difference. These included the windfall of a £400,000 house sale at
Boarsney House, near Robertsbridge in East Sussex, and a pair of
child portraits by Jean Baptiste Greuze, sold for £900,000 in
February, a new landmark for a picture lot sold at auction outside
As reported in ATG No 1767, December 2, The Fine Art Auction Group
are to introduce wide-ranging changes to their calendar in 2007.
The former Hamptons salerooms in both Godalming and Marlborough
will make the transition from saleroom to consignment offices with
all major auctions to be held in Nottingham and Donnington Priory
and general sale merchandise sold in Bristol. The move follows
Bonhams' decision to revamp their provincial network through a
series of amalgamations, closures and moves to new premises.
These moves to 'restructure' reflects the continued difficulties
at the lower end of the market that last year saw the demise of
half a dozen smaller rooms and halted the progress of some
established 'big five' businesses.
In July, Tennants sold an exceptional burr walnut longcase, c.1740
by George Graham, for £135,000 - a provincial record for a clock -
but total sales at the Auction Centre, Leyburn in 2006 were £8.25m,
down from £8.8m in 2005 and record sales of £9.46m in 2004. Gains
were seen in clocks, decorative arts and sporting trophies, but the
year passed without a major single consignment of the type that had
added heavily to the bottom line in the previous two years.
Woolley & Wallis published a turnover figure of £6.68m. The
figure was predictably down from the £8.96m of the previous 12
months and the £7.37m achieved in 2004. However, lacking as it did
a Yuan vase (£2.6m in 2005) or an Ashley Manor house sale (£1.1m in
2004), chairman Paul Viney described the year's work as "a quietly
The Salisbury Salerooms became among the first provincial
auctioneers to wholly abandon sales of low-value chattels to focus
upon specialist sales of fine art and antiques. Fortnightly general
sales, a fixture at the Castle Street salerooms for generations,
ceased in October to allow for the ground-floor saleroom space to
become available for expanding specialist departments.
Total sales at Gorringes in 2006 stood at £7.4m. This was down
from £8.1m in 2005 when the aggregate across four salerooms had
been boosted by the sale of John William Godward's £440,000 A Cool
This time next year the Sussex company hope to be trading from a
regional auction centre in converted farm buildings in Cooksbridge,
near Lewes, that should begin to take shape in the second half of
Meanwhile in Ireland, the three Dublin salerooms reported
significant increases in turnover across the board.
The continuing growth of the Irish economy, with GDP running at
5.2 per cent, exceeded that of Britain last year. This has led to
increased levels of private competition, producing some high
returns especially in the field of post-War and Contemporary Irish
For 2006 Adam's reported a yearly hammer total of €17.5 (£12.4m),
a rise of 90 per cent on the previous 12 months. This remarkable
result was helped by their €5.9m (£4.2m) sale on December 5 in
conjunction with Bonhams, setting a record total for an Irish sale
taking place in Ireland. The sale will be reported in next week's
Dublin rivals Whyte's saw a 32 per cent rise in their annual
total, up to €9.8 (£6.9m), although none of their sales were held
in conjunction with any other firm. In all, they offered 1600 lots
over the year, with an average selling rate of 83 per cent.
Also in Dublin, de Veres posted a premium-inclusive sales total of
€7m (£5m), a rise of 11 per cent.
Exchange rate £1 = €1.41m
By Roland Arkell and Alex Capon
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