Based in Boston, Massachusetts, Skinner is an established part of the East Coast auction scene with the company dating back to 1962. It will now be known as Bonhams Skinner.
Financial terms are not being disclosed but the move clearly signals the strategy of the Bonhams ownership to expand its global outlook.
Bonhams was bought by private equity firm Epiris in 2018 and last year opened its first saleroom in Paris. It also bought The Market, a digital auction platform for classic and collectable car and motorcycle auctions.
The addition of Skinner’s 75 staff takes Bonhams’ employee numbers to over 725.
In a press release Bonhams said: “The acquisition of this much-loved auction house will give Bonhams greater access to the North American market, through Skinner’s salerooms in Boston and Marlborough, Massachusetts, and its highly effective digital platform for online sales. The purchase of Skinner will also build on Bonhams’ local to global business strategy, following on from the addition of Bukowskis.”
Skinner was founded in 1962 by Robert W. Skinner – an engineer with a passion for antiques. For the last 45 years it has been run by partners Karen Keane and Stephen Fletcher (who was Skinner’s first employee) and now stages 80 auctions annually in more than 20 collecting areas.
Its house record came in 2014 when it sold a Qing Dynasty vase sold for $24.7m, a record price a piece of Chinese art sold in the US at the time.
Bonhams chief executive Bruno Vinciguerra said: “Skinner has a well-established digital footprint throughout North America that complements Bonhams’ presence which will allow both companies to reach more consignors and buyers. The acquisition will enhance the local to global strategy that underpins Bonhams’ strength in the core market, so I am delighted to welcome Skinner to the Bonhams family.”
Karen Keane, chief executive at Skinner said: “Bonhams and Skinner are a great match. With its international reach, Bonhams brings the world to New England, and gives our world-class specialists global access. We are all really excited at the potential created by bringing these businesses together.”