Bonhams call for greater protection for auction house clients

The Fine Art Auctioneers, Bonhams, is calling on the auction industry to follow its lead and take concerted action to protect proceeds owing to clients.

The call follows the recent collapse of the on-line auctioneers Auction Atrium leaving sellers out of pocket because, according to recent reports, the firm had used clients' funds as part of their working capital.

In a letter to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, of which Bonhams is a member, Bonhams Chief Executive, Matthew Girling, stressed that clients had a right to know that their money was being safeguarded. "The world has seen great institutions such as Lehman go under in recent years", he wrote. "No business is immune. RICS should lead the way on this and demand that our clients, the vendors, are better protected."

Bonhams is regulated by RICS and, under the Bonhams Clients Trust Account, all funds from purchasers are held in a dedicated Trust Account until paid out to vendors and are transparently separate from all other Bonhams funds. This ensures complete financial security for clients' money. Bonhams is the only major auction house to offer this protection and has set the standard internationally in this area.


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to

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