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Bloomsbury Auctions, Dreweatts Join Forces for U.K. Venture

Two of Britain’s middle-market auctioneers have announced a strategic alliance that will make them one of the largest U.K. auctioneers on a combined basis.

LONDON—Two of Britain’s middle-market auctioneers have announced a strategic alliance that will make them one of the largest U.K. auctioneers on a combined basis. Bloomsbury Auctions, which specializes in books and works on paper, has branches in London, New York and Rome, and achieved sales of £23million ($36.8million) last year. Dreweatts, which has five regional auction rooms in the U.K., took in £16million ($25.6million) in sales last year.

Between them, the two houses offered 90,000 lots for sale last year, and combined sales totals for the auctioneers for this year are projected to be £40million ($60million). Bloomsbury holds the world records for sales of modern first editions by authors J.K. Rowling and Ian Fleming. The alliance will provide clients more choice in where they consign works for sale, and will afford them access to a wider range of expertise. Neither company has commented on whether the alliance will lead to a merger, but neither companies ruled out the possibility when asked.

Dreweatts is the trading name of the Fine Art Auction Group, which, with City backing, has gradually been acquiring strategically placed auction rooms in the south of England.

Meanwhile, Dreweatts chairman Stephan Ludwig, who will become a nonexecutive chairman of Bloomsbury’s holding company, Stock­light, said that he will be kick-starting Dreweatts’ reentry into the urban-art market after witnessing the enormous interest in the Banksy exhibition at Bristol’s City Museum & Art Gallery. (The show closed at the end of last month.) Dreweatts will hold a charity auction in Bristol next month, and commercial sales of urban art in Bristol and London early next year, he said. —Colin Gleadell

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