Bruun Rasmussen Copenhagen

Bruun Rasmussen’s saleroom in Copenhagen.

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Following last week’s announcement that it had bought US firm Skinner, it has now added Danish auction house Bruun Rasmussen to its roster of overseas salerooms.

The purchase means that Bonhams now owns two of the largest auction houses in Scandinavia after acquiring Sweden’s Bukowskis in January 2022. Bonhams described the latest purchase as “part of a strategy to extend Bonhams’ position as a digital auction house with a global footprint”. It also said that the financial terms of the deal are not being disclosed.

Bruun Rasmussen has been a family-owned company since it was established in Copenhagen in 1948 by Arne Bruun Rasmussen. His son Jesper has chaired the company since 1985.

Jesper Bruun Rasmussen will now become chairman emeritus with the firm’s day-to-day operations continuing to be run by Jakob Dupont, the chief executive of Bruun Rasmussen. Jesper Bruun Rasmussen said: “I have just brought down the hammer on the largest and most important sale in the history of Bruun Ramussen Auctioneers. It has been a privilege to have led this great auction house for so many years. I look forward to becoming a part of the journey going towards even bigger horizons, together with my children Alexa and Frederik. I am very proud of the fact our company will become a worldwide player through Bonhams.”

Jesper Bruun Rasmussen

Jesper Bruun Rasmussen, the son of the firm’s founder who has chaired the business since 1985.

Bonhams was bought by private equity firm Epiris in 2018 and has adopted an active acquisition policy since then, especially in expanding into new territories. Last year it opened its first saleroom in Paris. It also bought The Market, a digital auction platform for classic and collectable car and motorcycle auctions.

The company now has 12 salerooms globally which are located in London (New Bond Street and Knightsbridge), Edinburgh, New York, Los Angeles, Paris (opened September 2021), Hong Kong, Sydney, Stockholm (Bukowskis, acquired in January 2022), Boston and Marlborough, Massachusetts (both Skinner) as well as Copenhagen (Bruun Rasmussen).

'Revered brand'

As well as its headquarters in Copenhagen’s Nordhavn district, Bruun Rasmussen also runs live auctions and previews from a separate premises in the city’s Bredgade, and has a further space for online auctions in Jutland.

Unlike Skinner, which will now be known as Bonhams Skinner, Bruun Rasmussen will continue to be called Bruun Rasmussen “in acknowledgement of its status in Denmark and Scandinavia” according to Bonhams. Its new full name is ‘Bruun Rasmussen – Part of the Bonhams Network’.

The company is the subject of a documentary series on Danish television, Auktionshuset, which has been running since 2013. Bruun Rasmussen’s house record was set in June last year when an early Ming porcelain dish sold at Dkr35.5m (£4.1m).

The acquisition means that this year Bonhams will hold over 400 specialist sales across 53 different categories. Chief executive of Bonhams, Bruno Vinciguerra said: “Bruun Rasmussen is one of the great European auction houses. A brand revered in Denmark, it is known and loved for its pioneering sales, particularly in Scandinavian art and design.

“Following on from Bonhams’ acquisition of the Swedish auction house Bukowskis in January, our strategy is to bring a thriving regional business to the global marketplace through Bonhams’ international network. The addition of Bruun Rasmussen will enhance Bonhams’ European scale and increase digital capabilities to support further outreach across the Bonhams network.”