UK’s Top Three Auction Houses

Posted on 30 March 2021

UK’s top three Auction houses – fact file.



Sotheby’s was established on 11 March 1744 in London by Sotheby’s founder, Samuel Baker, It is named after one of its cofounders, John Sotheby.

It is the worlds fourth oldest Auction House in continuous operation. Now based HQ-wise in New York, with 80 locations in 40 countries. Sotheby’s shares a rivalry with Christie’s for the position of the world’s preeminent fine art auctioneer, a much desired title.

In June 2019 It was acquired by Israeli- French billionaire, telecom magnate Patrick Drahi.

Sotheby’s was the very first auction house to successfully shift to a hybrid digital auction format with new mobile and web experiences to drive a much larger portion of sales online. Just in time for the pandemic shift to exactly that. 


Bonhams founded in London in 1793Opened in Tavistock Street, Covent Garden by Thomas Dodd (1771-1850), one of the most famous print dealers of his day.

And in 2002 branched out to overseas, beginning with purchasing a leading auction house in USA. 

Now, Bonhams has two London locations ; Bond Street and Knightsbridge, plus Maidson Avenue in New York, Sunset boulevard, Los Angeles and Hong Kong.

In 2018 private equity firm Epiris purchased Bonhams. Based in London themselves Epiris specialises in buyout investments/ recapitalisation transactions that target control positions in UK centric business, with enterprise values of up to £500 million.

Christie’s is a British auction house founded in 1766 by James Christie. They have a base in over 46 counties around the world including in London, New York, Paris, Geneva, Milan, Amsterdam, Dubai, Zürich, Hong Kong, and Shanghai. They are one of the first houses to move into Russia and north eastern Europe.

It is owned by Groupe Artémis, the holding company of François-Henri Pinault, the French billionaire businessman founder of the luxury group Kering (owner of luxury brands, Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, and Bottega Veneta) and the investment company Artemis.


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