The auction house, Bonhams, announced last week it had acquired the on-line classic car auction business, The Market. We look behind the headlines.

The Market was born in 2016 off the back of business called Patina designed to authenticate classic vehicles history. When the founders, Tristan Judge and Tim Joslyn, decided to disrupt the status quo with on-line only classic car auctions many were mighty sceptical. The so-called ‘big four’ auction houses quipped “on-line only will never catch-on, buyers want to see, touch, feel, smell the cars, which you cannot do on-line”. A few short years later they will be probably be choking back on those words. The Market went from strength to strength achieving tremendous organic growth and producing both stunning and transparent sale results with its simple, cost effective platform. In the last year alone classic cars with a value of over £13 million went through its platform.

The established auctions have began to wake up, but it is Bonhams who have stolen a march on everyone by diving in and buying the market leader.

Tim Joslyn, Founder of The Market, said: “I am delighted. The combination of a prestigious auction house, and our premier digital offering will create an incredible opportunity to reach a wider, more global audience.”

The acquisition clearly provides another dimension to Bonhams, as one of the oldest auction houses, with salerooms across the world in London, New York, Los Angeles, Paris, and Hong Kong.

Will the market leader continue to achieve amazing growth under its new owners? Well, one interesting fact that is missing from most of the PR puff put out is that Bonhams itself was acquired by new owners in 2018, a private equity firm called Epiris. On their website, Epris describe their culture as “Our primary goal is to build great companies in order to deliver outstanding returns for our investors”. And let’s be honest there is nothing at all wrong with that.

But in a market driven by passion and emotion, by enthusiasts for enthusiasts, will this take-over by a venture capital company shift the dynamics of The Market? As you’d expect, we have our view, but we’d love to hear your take. Let us know.

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