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Bonhams reported to be up for sale

Auction house Bonhams is reported to be in talks with investment bank and advisory firm NM Rothschild on the potential sale of the 225-year-old firm.

Bonhams is controlled by chairman Robert Brooks. He acquired the firm in 2000. Discussions about a potential sale took place four years ago but a deal did not materialise.

According to The Sunday Times, Poly Culture, China’s largest auctioneering group, had expressed an interest in the firm. The newspaper reported that several private equity firms, including Bain Capital, CVC Capital and Bridgepoint, had also previously looked at the company.

Bonhams declined to comment on whether Rothschild had been appointed. Rothschild made no comment.

Angela ‘Bunny’ Wynn passes away

Angela ‘Bunny Wynn passed away last week following an aneurism. She was 82.


The late Angela ‘Bunny’ Wynn.

She lived in Worcestershire with her husband David. She ran the Women in the Arts network with her long-time friend and business partner Gay Hutson.

Wynn and Hutson were partners in the British Art Fair for the past 20 years.

Hansons withdraws ‘Nelson’ telescope

Hansons Auctioneers has withdrawn from its July 2 sale a brass telescope purported to have been used by Admiral Lord Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, after questions were raised about its authenticity.

The telescope was due to be sold in the Etwall, Derbyshire, saleroom with an estimate of £6000-8000. The move follows queries about the item’s historical provenance and low estimate.

According to the saleroom’s original press release about the telescope, the Australia-based vendor said her ancestor, a cabin boy and personal servant to Lord Nelson and Captain Hardy on board HMS Victory, was given the telescope by Hardy after Nelson’s death.

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1 Royal wedding memorabilia: five objects that are worth investing in

2 Charles Hanson withdraws ‘Nelson’s telescope’ from sale “pending further investigations”

3 Art dealer on how he made a spectacular Rembrandt discovery

4 Cannon of Mutiny on the Bounty fame to be offered in Scottish auction

5 ‘Scotland’s photo album’ saved for the nation at a price of £1m

Forum launches photography sale

The inaugural photography sale staged by Forum Auctions will take place in London on June 1.

The firm launched a photography and photobooks department at the end of last year when ex-Dreweatts & Bloomsbury specialist Justine Gruser joined the company.


Portrait of Mary Ryan by Julia Margaret Cameron which is estimated at £3000-5000 at Forum Auctions on June 1.

Forum is planning to hold two dedicated offerings per year, one in the summer, the other in the winter. Among the highlights at the upcoming sale include are two portraits by Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-79). One depicts Mary Ryan, the subject of a number of portraits by the pioneering Victorian photographer. It is estimated at £3000-5000.

The other albumen print by Cameron at the sale is an untitled photograph of a small child estimated at £1200-1500.

Forum also announced it has facilitated £1m in auction advances via finance firm Unbolted over the past year.

Peer-to-peer lender Unbolted agreed a deal with Forum to allow consignors of lots to access up to 50% of the low estimate immediately upon consignment in advance of a sale.

Art legal disputes centre opens

An alternative to heading to court over art world legal disputes will be launched in the Netherlands. A Global Centre of Excellence for resolving art disputes will be unveiled in The Hague on June 8 during the Authentication in Art 2018 Congress at the Louwman Museum.

The centre will provide arbitration and mediation services for the full spectrum of art disputes, such as authenticity, contract, copyright claims and title disputes. The centre has been formed by the Authentication in Art Foundation (AiA) in collaboration with The Dutch Institute for Arbitration (NAI) and is led by lawyer William Charron.

Violante joins Phillips NY team

Phillips is expanding its jewellery team in the Americas with the appointment of Eva Violante as senior specialist and vice president, based in New York.


Eva Violante, who has joined Phillips’ jewellery team in New York.

She joins Phillips from Heritage Auctions, where she was the fine jewellery director in New York. The auction house has also announced the appointment of Anne Mock as an associate jewellery specialist in New York.

McTear’s in Edinburgh

Glasgow auction house McTear’s has opened a valuation office in Edinburgh and hired watches and jewellery specialist Neil Mitchinson as a consultant to run the new premises on Hopetoun Crescent.


Neil Mitchinson, who will run McTear’s Edinburgh office.

In Numbers


Whisky bottles decorated with illustrations by pop artists Valerio Adami and Sir Peter Thomas Blake set records at Bonhams Fine and Rare Wine and Whisky auction on May 18 in Hong Kong. A bottle with a label designed by the Italian painter Adami made a record for the most expensive single bottle of whisky sold at auction.

The Macallan Valerio Adami 1926 60-year-old whisky sold to a bidder in the room for $1.1m (HK$8.6m or £814,081). The Macallan Peter Blake 1926 60-year-old sold to a phone bidder for $1.01m (HK$7.96m or £751,703).


The Macallan Valerio Adami 1926 60-year-old whisky that sold at Bonhams Hong Kong for $1.1m (HK$8.6m or £814,081).