All change at Bonhams
In a move known by industry insiders since January, last week Bonhams formally confirmed that long-standing auctioneer and Group Chairman of Bonhams Motoring James Knight has stepped down. Replacing him is former RM Sotheby’s man Maarten ten Holder.
Knight’s breezy style and – before discovering the joys of cycling – well-nourished frame was a familiar one at the rostrum over many decades. He started his career at Christie’s where he met Robert Brooks. The pair left in 1989 with others to start Brooks, the specialist classic car auction firm. On the acquisition by Brooks of Bonhams in 2000, Knight became a founding director and helped steer the Bond St house to a strong position in the industry, particularly in the UK. Its Aston Martin auctions at Newport Pagnell and Goodwood sales set many records, almost singlehandedly charting the trajectory of classic car values in the post-2008 boom.
With Robert Brooks and Malcolm Barber, Knight was responsible for selling well-known cars such as Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato ‘2 VEV’ for £10.1m at Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2018 and the ex-works Austin-Healey Special Test Car/100S ‘NOJ 393’ that achieved £843,000 at Brooklands in December 2011. Knight’s droll asides – “Your number, Mr E? Shall we say ‘666’?” to a paddleless boss of F1 at the Goodwood Festival – made sales conducted under his stewardship easy on the ear to those following lot after lot for hours on end.
Dutch national Maarten ten Holder (pictured above, left, at a London sale) comes from RM Sotheby’s where he was an Executive Vice-President, heading up the European Region. He joined Sotheby’s in 1996 and is another fresh signing of former company men by Bonhams' Executive Chairman Bruno Vinciguerra, a past CEO of Sotheby's. Ten Holder replaced Max Girardo as the main man on the RM rostrum when the latter left to set up his own business in May 2016. Ten Holder’s first big event for RM was the November 2016 sale of cars confiscated by the authorities from Italian businessman Luigi Compiano. Over three days, the auction grossed €47,671,232.
James Knight will continue in a consultancy role at Bonhams as well as offering his services to collectors in an independent capacity. See jamesknightconsultancy.com
Bonhams buys The Market
Also this week, it was announced that Bonhams had bought the online auction platform The Market. Although in the shadow of market-leader Collecting Cars, the acquisition will give the Bond St firm a much-needed presence in the burgeoning field of online-only sales.
How this affects the company’s more affordable division Bonhams MPH and its base at Bicester Heritage remains to be seen, though no plans exist right now to scale back MPH, or any of the other smaller Bonhams auctions.
Photos by K500