Established by Stephan Ludwig, formerly owner and CEO of Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions, Forum Auctions ("Forum") commences trading in May from premises in London, New York, Milan and Rome. Taking a fresh perspective on 21st century auctioneering, and in contrast to recent entrants into the 'exclusively online' auction market, Forum's technology-led business model both recognises and emphasises the continuing importance, to both buyers and sellers, of a terrestrial auction presence.
Forum’s auction offerings will be correspondingly tailored to delivering a varied and rich mixture of landmark traditional 'physical' sales, alongside both timed and fixed price internet events. Importantly, Forum’s online offering will always be available for bidders to view each and every lot in person, thereby removing one of the perennial impediments to the 'exclusively online' auction format.
The books and manuscripts department comprises a strong team of specialists including Dido Arthur, Justin Phillips and Max Hasler. Alexander Hayter joins Forum as International Head of Contemporary Art and will build out his department over the coming weeks.
Alongside Ludwig, all of Forum’s staff and renowned international book dealer Filippo Rotundo are founding shareholders in the new business. Rotundo’s Philobiblon Galleries will host Forum in New York, Milan and Rome where Forum’s auction calendar kicks off with contemporary art and antiquarian book sales on June 8th and 22nd. Forum’s inaugural London sales will take place during the week commencing 11th July over two days and feature private collections across several categories. Forum’s autumn calendar highlights include the £1mm private collection of a Continental collector, as well as the firm’s inaugural London sale of Important Modern & Contemporary Prints.
Whilst initially focused on books, manuscripts, prints and photographs Forum is planning to expand into a number of other 'online friendly' auction specialisations such as wine, watches, jewellery and numismatics. These collectibles are all characterised as 'multiples' markets, in that a number of editions of the same item exist. Furthermore, these are all specialisations in which online trading is already established, often appealing to a younger collecting market.
Stephan Ludwig: "I am naturally excited to be launching this new business. We feel that the auction market is not yet ready to fully separate the traditionally terrestrial experience from exclusively online events and there exists a strong rationale for establishing a 'best in class' e-commerce umbrella from which to hang carefully selected specialist departments.
"We operate in a ‘trust’ industry that relies heavily on the reputation and experience of product specialists and client service, particularly for collectors. I am delighted by the confidence that our staff, who have all left well-established jobs to join me in this exciting new venture, are placing in the business.
"Forum’s technology-led trading platform is being built by an external team of programmers and systems designers who have a strong and established track record of producing e-commerce solutions. We are not reinventing the wheel - our objective is to deliver an intuitive and rewarding 'shopper' experience, and to do this we are working with people who are simply the best in their field when it comes to technology, collecting disciplines and client service."
Filippo Rotundo: I am very pleased to be participating in Stephan's new business. Philobiblon Galleries, established over 10 years ago, has moved towards a very focussed service model with an emphasis on introducing the most selective collectors to the works of their dreams. Having worked with Stephan for a number of years I appreciate his ability to build and develop a business, and agree with his philosophy. Philobiblon Galleries’ Italian and New York principal trading business will continue to run independently of the Forum auction business and promises to provide a pipeline of varied and interesting fresh auction material."
Forum Auctions. Where collectors meet.