Bloomsbury and Dreweatts form auction powerhouse

LONDON – Bloomsbury Auctions and Dreweatts have announced a far-reaching and strategic alliance. Initially the two
companies will offer each other’s services to their growing client bases in the UK and internationally. Bloomsbury will expand its popular monthly ‘Bibliophile’ sales which will now be held in Dreweatts’ Godalming salerooms, the first being on Wednesday, Nov. 18. Dreweatts, on the other hand, have a number of collections in the pipeline to be offered for sale including wine. These sales will take place in Bloomsbury’s London and Rome rooms.

The two auction houses expect to have sales approaching $66.7 million in 2009; last year the two together offered
90,000 individual lots for sale, making them the second largest fine art auctioneers in Britain by number of lots sold.

Bloomsbury Auctions has grown rapidly in the past five years since moving its London premises to Mayfair’s Maddox Street and opening salerooms in both New York and Rome. Today Bloomsbury sells more books and works on paper (including manuscripts, prints, posters, watercolours and photographs) than any other auction house in the world; in 2008 it achieved a hammer turnover of $38.4 million including buyers’ premiums.

Bloomsbury holds the world record prices for items as diverse as Albert Einstein’s letters and Modern First Editions by Ian Fleming and J.K. Rowling.

Dreweatts is the trading name of the Fine Art Auction Group, which has been actively acquiring and consolidating a number of U.K. regional multidisciplinary auction businesses. It trades from flagship ‘country house’ premises at Donnington Priory, Newbury and also Bristol, Godalming and Tunbridge Wells. It has become one of Britain’s leading regional art and antiques auctioneers, reporting a turnover in 2008 of $26.7 million including buyers’ premiums. Particularly noteworthy amongst its successes was the private treaty sale of a collection of ‘First Fleet’ watercolors to the National Library of Australia for an undisclosed seven-figure sum, and the auction of a pair of portraits by Jean-Baptiste Greuze belonging to David Cameron’s family, which realized over $1.67 million.

“Bloomsbury’s business complements ours perfectly. Their world renowned expertise in books and manuscripts fits well with our wide range of disciplines in Britain,” said Stephan Ludwig, chairman of Dreweatts. “The London and international dimensions to this strategic alliance will greatly benefit our clients. I cannot imagine a more fitting development to celebrate our firm’s 250th anniversary this year.”

Rupert Powell, the managing director of Bloomsbury Auctions, said “We have, for some time, been looking to diversify what we can offer in New York and London, as seen by our $1.4 million inaugural sale of wine in New York earlier this year. Dreweatts’ depth and breadth of knowledge across the mainstream antiques and decorative arts market, is of a quality that enhances our position as an increasingly significant London West End saleroom.”

The alliance will see Rupert Powell joining Dreweatts’ board. Stephan Ludwig, by the same token, will be appointed to the board of Bloomsbury’s holding company.

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