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Bonhams sold to private equity fund Epiris

4 September 2018

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Bonhams sold to UK-based private equity fund Epiris | Bonhams has been acquired by Epiris Fund II, a UK-based private equity fund, from the auction house’s private shareholders. Bruno Vinciguerra, a former chief operating officer of Sotheby’s, is to join the existing Bonhams CEO Matthew Girling and CFO Jonathan Fairhurst as the new Executive Chairman. In recent years the auction house, which was founded in 1793, has opened offices in East and Southeast Asia, moved to new salerooms in New York, opened new headquarters in Bond Street, and held its first online-only auction. Earlier this year, Epiris II bought the media company Time Inc. UK (now TIUK) and it also owns a majority stake in the banknote-maker De La Rue’s paper-manufacturing business. Matthew Girling says of the sale, ‘We are delighted to have found a buyer that recognises the potential offered by this business and its employees. Bonhams is one of the world’s oldest auctioneers – and one of its most ambitious.’

Open letter criticises gender disparity at Rencontres d’Arles | Leading figures from the world of photography have signed an open letter, published yesterday in French newspaper Libération (French-language article), criticising the gender disparity of artists represented at the 2018 edition of the annual photography festival Les Rencontres d’Arles. The letter cites the fact that of 15 major monographic exhibitions, only 3 featured the work of women photographers (one of whom exclusively photographs the work of another, male, artist), charges the festival’s director Sam Stourdzé of perpetuating an ‘androcentric vision of art’, and calls for Stourdzé to pledge gender parity in its 2019 edition. Prominent signatories from the UK include the Whitechapel Gallery’s Iwona Blazwick, artist Victor Burgin and Susan Collins, director of the Slade School of Fine Art, among many others.

Performance artist charged with ‘sexual exhibitionism’ after posing nude at Lourdes | The performance artist Deborah de Robertis has been charged with ‘sexual exhibitionism’ after being arrested on Saturday for posing naked under a blue veil and with hands clasped in prayer beneath the statue of the Virgin Mary in the Sanctuary of Lourdes in France. De Robertis, who has staged similar performances in front of works at museums including the Louvre, who has named the performance The Origin of Life, has stated that ‘[b]y embodying the female models my aim is to free them from the framework in which they are frozen and thus to reverse the point of view on the historical, political and artistic level’. A criminal court hearing is scheduled for May.