Bonhams is a privately owned British auction house and one of the world's oldest and largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The Bonhams name is recognised worldwide throughout all sectors of the fine art, antiques and collectors' market, with several of its departments established world leaders within their specialist category.
One of the few surviving Georgian auction houses in London, Bonhams was set up in 1793 when Thomas Dodd, a renowned antique print dealer, joined forces with the book specialist Walter Bonham.
The company expanded and by the 1850s was handling all categories of antiques including jewellery, porcelain, furniture, arms and armour and fine wines.
In the early 1950s the Bonham family purchased some land in Knightsbridge and erected a saleroom on Montpelier Street.
In 2000 Bonhams became Bonhams & Brooks when it was acquired by Brooks auction house. Brooks had been founded in 1989 by the former Head of Cars at Christie's, Robert Brooks who specialized in the sale of classic and vintage motorcars. Brooks continued a major acquisition programme aimed at creating a new international fine art auction house.
In 2001 Bonhams & Brooks merged with Phillips Son & Neale to form a new UK company trading as Bonhams.
Phillips Son & Neale had been based in 101 New Bond Street, which subsequently became the new headquarters of Bonhams. The building consisted of seven different freeholds and had been described as "a Dickensian rabbit warren". The first of the sites to be acquired was Blenstock House, a striking Art Deco building at the junction of Blenheim Street and Woodstock Street. Phillips took over the ground and lower ground floors in July 1939, gradually claiming more floors until the whole building was acquired in 1974. In the 1980s, 101 New Bond Street was added. An extensive renovation programme directed by Clare Agnew was undertaken when Bonhams moved into the premises.
Acquisition activity continued, and in 2002 Bonhams purchased Butterfields, a leading auction house on the West Coast founded in 1865. Bonhams changed Butterfields' name to Bonhams & Butterfields, and Malcolm Barber, formerly of Brooks, became the chief executive officer of the American subsidiary. Bonhams remained the company's brand name outside of the United States.