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Gemma Sudlow on the rostrum for Hindman’s inaugural New York auction, Time & Space: Watches from the Collection of Glen de Vries. Image courtesy of Hindman.

Hindman and Freeman’s auction houses merge to become Freeman’s Hindman

CHICAGO and PHILADELPHIA – Chicago auction house Hindman has announced a merger with Philadelphia-based Freeman’s and the opening of a permanent saleroom in Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The new firm, which consolidates two of America’s top regional firms, will henceforth operate under the name Freeman’s Hindman.

A 14-month discussion between Hindman and Freeman’s was completed on Christmas Eve. The newly combined firm has an extensive footprint numbering six salerooms (Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Denver, and Palm Beach, Florida) and 18 additional regional offices across the country. It is being touted as ‘the largest coast-to-coast presence of any auction house in the United States’, offering a full suite of services including auctions, appraisals, private sales, and art advisory.

The new management structure of the firm brings together executives from both Hindman and Freeman’s. While Jay Krehbiel and Alyssa Quinlan of Hindman maintain their previous roles of executive chairman and chief executive officer, they are joined by the four members of Freeman’s management team: Fraser Niven (president), Alasdair Nichol (co-deputy chair), Hanna Dougher (chief operating officer), and Paul Roberts (international business director).

Krehbiel, who has led the expansion of Hindman beyond its midwestern roots, believes the two businesses are natural partners, with the union representing “the foundation of a dynamic and comprehensive company well-positioned to lead the upper-middle auction market”.

One of the first actions of Freeman’s Hindman will be to open a new permanent New York saleroom. Located at 32 East 67th Street in the heart of the Upper East Side, it has up to 5,000 square feet of space. Both companies have had senior specialists working with clients in New York for many years, while Hindman, which opened an office there in the fall of 2022, held its first sales series in the Big Apple at a pop-up venue in Soho in October 2023.

Trading for more than 40 years and headquartered in Chicago, Hindman held 134 auctions in 2023, offering 34,301 lots with total sales standing at $99.7 million.

Freeman’s holds a similarly key position in the American auction landscape. Founded in Philadelphia in 1805, it is America’s oldest auction house. The company remained in the hands of the Freeman family for six generations until a management buyout in 2016. Alasdair Nichol, formerly chairman of Freeman’s and now co-deputy chair of Freeman’s Hindman, said the merger “heralds an exciting new chapter, continuing Freeman’s long-standing tradition of embracing change and adapting in response to the times.” He added, “Great things are bound to happen when passionate people with aligned goals collaborate, and I can’t wait to see what our two creative and client-centric companies achieve together.”

Freeman’s has long maintained an informal marketing alliance with the U.K. auction house Lyon & Turnbull, and this is expected to continue under the new regime. Paul Roberts, who works with both firms on either side of the Atlantic, told Antiques Trade Gazette he was “delighted to see the expansion of the Freeman’s brand and excited to explore the benefits of international cooperation with the Freeman’s Hindman group.”

The U.S. fine art auction scene has experienced significant consolidation in recent years. In the past decade, Morphy’s has acquired several businesses; Wright, Toomey & Co. and Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA) operate as part of the Rago group; while Skinner is now part of the Bonhams network.