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The move leaves Hong Kong as the only major auctions venue in the region where Bonhams do not now have salerooms.

With more than 30 years in the business and his own firm since 1977, the deal cements what has been a long-standing close working relationship between Mr Goodman and Bonhams chairman Robert Brooks.

The two have known each other since their early days in the auction business and have jointly operated Brooks & Goodman, the classic car auctions business, since the early 1990s.

Mr Brooks has always hoped to bring Goodmans on board offering the full range of auction services but had been unable to secure an exclusive arrangement for anything but the cars side until now.

The new deal allows Bonhams to enter the Australian market in particular linked to a well-established brand, bringing Goodmans the financial backing and international network that should enable them to compete at the highest level.

Australasian consignors will now have the option of sending their goods to overseas salerooms if they are likely to get a better return from sales there, and Bonhams would be able to despatch items – such as Australian paintings – likely to get a better reaction there – to Goodmans.

The company’s head office and prime auction rooms are in a converted telephone exchange on Sydney Harbour and currently turn over A$12m a year from jewellery, pictures, decorative arts, collectables and exceptional motor cars.

They will also have offices in Brisbane and Perth, the former being run by Lance Rae, formerly Bonhams & Langlois’s valuations manager in the Channel Islands. He emigrated to Australia last year.


Tony Baker, who has represented Bonhams in Perth since the merger with Phillips, will continue to run the new business there. Meanwhile, the firm have also appointed a key consultant, Alice Ilich, as senior specialist, Russian and Continental Works of Art and Pictures.

Tim Goodman is an acknowledged leading expert on Australian pictures and Mr Brooks sees the company as having a particular strength in the decorative arts.

The deal – whose exact nature remains confidential – follows Bonhams’ acquisition of Butterfields in California a year ago, which also allowed them to enter the local market place with a strongly branded and trusted local name.

Last week’s announcement followed directly on from the Antiques Trade Gazette’s report on the expansion plans of Lawson-Menzies, another leading Sydney-based auction house, now headed by former Sotheby’s Olympia managing director Paul Sumner. Among other initiatives, they have struck a deal with art dealers Messum’s in London, who will act as their UK representatives.

Only a week earlier the latest Customs & Excise figures placed Australia third to only the United States and Switzerland as a destination for UK exports of pictures. The country also came in fifth as a source of UK imports of pictures as well as featuring among the top ten countries for both imports and exports of antiques to and from the UK.