News-Antique.com - Oct 17,2009 - Sotheby’s Changes to Franchise in Oz – artmarketblog.com
In what I understand is an unprecedented event, Australian auction house Bonhams and Goodman Auctioneers will ditch the Bonhams brand and relaunch as the Australian arm of Sotheby’s. According to the ACCC website, “First East Auction Holdings trading as Bonhams & Goodman proposes to acquire auction business and associated assets of Sotheby’s Australia and also obtain a licence to use the Sotheby’s trademark in Australia and New Zealand for a period of 10 years.”
Sotheby’s International has operated a branch in Australia since 1982 but will now hand over the reins to Tim Goodman, head of Bonhams and Goodman, along with a license agreement which gives Goodman the right to operate under the Sotheby’s name. Bonhams, on the other hand, will now manage their own operations in Australia instead licensing their name to another company. According to Bonhams: “Bonhams 1793 – a shareholder in the Australian company First East Auction Holdings Limited (FEAHL), which has traded for six years as Bonhams & Goodman – announced today that Bonhams 1793 will launch its own independent operation in Australia, looking to expand its presence in this important market as part of Bonhams operations in 25 countries around the world.”
At the beginning of the year there were rumours spreading that Sotheby’s would follow Christie’s and abandon Australia all together so it is a relief for the Australian art market that Sotheby’s are not jumping ship. Sotheby’s licenses their name to real estate agents through the Sotheby’s Realty brand which was purchased by Cedant Corporation in 2004 but, from what I can gather, has not licensed their name to an auction house in this way before. According to my sources, Sotheby’s is very reluctant to lend their name to anyone so is obviously very trusting of Tim Goodman and seems keen to maintain a presence in Australia.
On a less positive note Artemis Auctions, the Australia art auction house aimed at the middle market which was started at the beginning of this year, has been re-absorbed by the parent companies after poor results. Mossgreen Auctions and Deutscher and Hackett Auctions were responsible for the ambitious venture that supposed to be filling what was thought to be a gap in the lower to middle market. When artemis auctions was started at the beginning of the year I with the statement made by the owner of the auction house, Paul Sumner, who said that the lower and middle market was under serviced. In fact, my impression was that this sector of the market was in fact over serviced; an opinion that I made clear on my Australian Art Market Blog. And I was right. It is a shame that the business was not a success but such is life.
**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of http://www.artmarketblog.com, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to