Bonhams Owner Mulls Sale, Museums Bet on Super Bowl, and More: Morning Links for February 7, 2023

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The Headlines

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THE AUCTION BLOCK. Epiris, the private equity firm that owns Bonhams, has tapped JPMorgan Chase & Co. to advise on a possible sale of the auction house, Bloomberg reports. How much could the London-based firm go for? Epiris, which is also located in the capital city, is said to be floating a valuation of $1 billion. Bonhams, which was founded in 1793, went on an international acquisition spree last year, snapping up Bruun Rasmussen in Denmark, Bukowskis in Sweden, and Skinner in Massachusetts, as ARTnews reported. Epiris has held the veteran auctioneer since 2018.

GAME ON! With the Philadelphia Eagles set to play the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl on Sunday, the directors of their hometown art museums—the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art—have placed a big bet on the game. The stakes: The loser will have to send a delegation with the loan of a “master work” (to be named later) to the winner. In a press release about the wager, the museum directors talked a bit of (exceedingly polite) trash. Julián Zugazagoitia, who leads the Nelson-Atkins, predicted that the Chiefs will “make short work of the Eagles,” and that his staff will make sure the visitors “taste the best of our Kansas City barbeque.” The PMA’s Sasha Suda, for her part, said that she expects the Eagles to “soar to victory,” with her colleagues offering the Missourians some “unforgettable cheesesteaks.” Do not mess with museum directors! Good luck to all the competitors.

The Digest

A filing by Damien Hirst’s company Science (UK) reveals that in 2020 he sold more than £8 million ($9.62 million at the current exchange rate) worth of art to benefit the United Kingdom’s National Health Service[The Art Newspaper]

Big-league art collectors Craig Robins and Jackie Soffer have listed their Miami Beach home for a cool $45 million. It’s a Spanish-style residence from the 1940s with 9,000 square feet and a very special feature: a futuristic-looking bathroom that was designed by the late Zaha Hadid[Architectural Digest and The Wall Street Journal]

The Hyde Collection—a jewel of an art museum in Glen Galls, New York—has named John Lefner to be its CEO. Lerner, who is currently the Hyde Collection’s chief operations and development officer, is succeeding Norman Dascher Jr., who will retire May 1. [The Post-Star]

Bree Pickering has been tapped to lead Australia’s National Portrait Gallery. Pickering comes to the Canberra organization from the Murray Art Museum Albury, where she became director in 2016. Earlier in her career she directed the Vox Populi art space in Philadelphia. [AFR]

Art and design from the estate of Hustler founder and free-speech advocate Larry Flynt will be offered by the Abell auction house on Thursday. The lots include Tiffany-style lamps, hunting scenes, and a great deal more. [Abell]

Artist Ugo Rondinone has put together a show at the Museum of Art and History in Geneva, Switzerland, that sets his work alongside more than 300 pieces from its collection. Turn-of-the-century artists Ferdinand Hodler and Félix Vallotton are focal points in the exhibition, which includes rooms hidden behind a “magic door” that opens automatically. [Financial Times]

The Kicker

THE GOLDEN EYE. Actor and painter Pierce Brosnan is the host of a delightful-sounding new series on the History Channel called History’s Greatest Heists, which will cover the notorious 1990 theft of paintings from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. The former 007 gave an interview to Channel Guide magazine about the show, and offered some candid thoughts about its subject. “We like to see people break the law, try and steal things, trying to steal money,” he said, adding later, “Some of these guys were just off-the-planet kind of crazy and also brilliant. Just brilliant. It takes balls to go out there and do what they do.” The show premieres today. [Channel Guide]


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