Epiris today announces that Bonhams, the global auction house and a portfolio company of Epiris Fund II, has acquired Skinner, a leading US auctioneer based in Boston, Massachusetts. Fund II has made a further investment in Bonhams to fund the add-on acquisition, which is the third for Bonhams and the eleventh to be completed by a Fund II portfolio company. Financial terms are not being disclosed.

Bonhams is one of the world’s leading auctioneers of fine art and antiquities, motor cars and jewellery. Founded in London in 1793, the business operates globally from flagship sale rooms in London, New York, Los Angeles, Paris and Hong Kong, and this year will hold more than 400 specialist sales across 53 different categories. Epiris first invested in Bonhams in 2018 and backed the add-on acquisitions of The Market, an online marketplace for classic car auctions, in 2021 and Bukowskis, the leading auction house in the Nordics, in 2022.

Skinner was founded in 1962 by the eponymous Robert Skinner, Jr. with a vision to build a world-class auction house on New England’s history as an international arts centre. Today, Skinner holds around 80 auctions each year online and at its flagship saleroom in Boston, in categories ranging from antique violins to contemporary paintings. Skinner sales have set records for items such as a Qing Dynasty vase, works by American painter Fitz Henry Lane, and a Gibson Explorer Electric Guitar, and its experts regularly appear on PBS’s long-running television series, “Antiques Roadshow”.

Bonhams is run by Chief Executive Bruno Vinciguerra and Skinner, by its owners Karen Keane and Stephen Fletcher.

Owen Wilson, Partner at Epiris, said:

“Bonhams and Skinner are a great match. Bonhams’ operations in New York and Skinner’s in New England fit neatly together, and the two are hugely complementary in terms of their specialties, networks and digital capabilities. We are all really excited at the potential created by bringing these businesses together.”

Alex Fortescue, Managing Partner at Epiris, said:

“Bonhams is a terrific embodiment of Epiris’ approach. We have invested in people and technology, brought clarity and focus to the strategy, and built and executed an M&A pipeline. All of this has realised our vision of creating a digitally-enabled business occupying the leading global position in its niches and offering exciting prospects for further growth.”

Bruno Vinciguerra, Chief Executive of Bonhams, said:

“Skinner not only is an iconic presence in New England, but also has a well-established digital footprint throughout North America. The acquisition will enhance the local-to-global strategy that underpins Bonhams’ strength in its core market, so I am delighted to welcome Skinner to the Bonhams family.”

The Epiris team on the deal is Alex Fortescue, Owen Wilson and Zoe Lai. Epiris and Bonhams are advised by Holland & Knight and Mazars.


For Epiris LLP please contact:

Greenbrook Communications

Robert White, Matthew Goodman, Daniel Oliver

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About Epiris

Epiris is a top-decile* private equity firm which invests in opportunities to transform businesses in partnership with exceptional management teams. It targets control positions in UK-headquartered businesses with an enterprise value of between £75 million and £500 million, deploying between £40 million and £150 million of equity.

Fund I

Between 2011 and 2016 Epiris invested £1 billion in buyouts and loan-to-own debt investments in respect of which it has delivered a gross IRR of 38%*. Synthetic net returns from this portfolio are in the top-decile of European private equity funds of comparable vintages.

Fund II

Epiris Fund II is an institutional private equity fund raised in 2017. Investments made by Fund II include Portals, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of “substrate” for banknotes; TI Media, one of the largest consumer magazine publishers in the UK, which the Fund sold to Future plc for £140 million in April 2020, generating a return of 2.1x MOIC, a 44% IRR; The Club Company, the UK’s largest country club operator; Bonhams, the global auction house; Diamorph, a supplier of advanced material solutions for demanding and safety-critical applications; IFG, a financial services business comprising James Hay, which provides investment platform services, as well as Saunderson House, an independent wealth manager and financial adviser which the Fund sold to Rathbone Brothers Plc for £150 million in October 2021; The Big Table, a leading UK restaurant operator; Sharps, the UK’s leading supplier of bespoke fitted bedroom furniture; and Stuart Turner, a producer of pumps and water-boosting products for residential and commercial uses.

For further information, please visit www.epiris.co.uk.

Issued by Epiris which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

*As at 30 September 2021. Gross IRR does not reflect adjustments for investment management and administration costs. Comparator data supplied by Preqin. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.