Bonhams Reviews | Glassdoor

Bonhams Reviews

Updated January 16, 2017
45 reviews

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2.2
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Bonhams Chairman Robert Brooks
Robert Brooks
17 Ratings

45 Employee Reviews

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Pros
Cons
  • Low pay - division between specialist staff and service staff (in 7 reviews)

  • There's no training and their approach to safety and transport of the artworks is a disgrace (in 5 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Helpful (5)

    "Great experience, great people, absent 'leaders.'"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Bonhams full-time

    Pros

    Despite an ever-changing environment by executives for unexplained reasons, the work, the bond between coworkers, and the morale make it worth fighting the corporate structure. The experience and exposure is a unique privilege that only we have access to, and no one day is like the next. There are always opportunities - the problem is that they are not consistent, they are not planned, and they are not structured. However, the sense of camaraderie and the incredible property are so unique that it makes us still believe in what we're doing everyday.

    Cons

    Bonhams is not a democracy - it's an aristocracy.

    Our opinions are the ones that should be heard before rash business decisions are made. We all see how the business work and doesn't work. We all see what needs to be changed, enforced, or addressed.

    Those who make these decisions don't even know our names.

    Advice to Management

    Trust the people who have kept your company running without your guidance. Try to understand that a good leader does not work alone - that leader gathers insight and makes informed decisions. That leader does not cross the names of strangers off a list and re-tallies the numbers until it is to their liking.

    Cause and effect is not abstract - it is a scientific fact.


  2. Helpful (1)

    "Artsy Fartsy"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Specialist in New York, NY
    Former Employee - Specialist in New York, NY
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Bonhams full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    The ability to work and collaborate with a diverse group of people with arts and interest. To be able to touch and handle actual art and put my degrees to work. Good access to libraries and catalogues.

    Cons

    Staff are often dumped on. When I had the rare chance to complete an auction in a rare subject, it was not a challenge because I couldn't get the material, but rather how competitive the staff had been to me when I was trying to use the computer. Bonhams would not provide me with an office or a regular phone extension because they are cheap. We had one photographer for 13+ sales that year. Staff members act like prima donnas if they see that you have good access to property. Last I heard Bonhams gutted the entire furniture and american dec arts department. Made me sad to see the loss of such talent. Very little collaboration between departments. Sometimes a culture of fear. I almost did not get paid for my services.

    Advice to Management

    Start being a participant on the ground. Get out from the top of your building and start seeing what your employees are capable of doing. Start also seeing what they are abusing in terms of their staff and the art itself. Hire competent people. Perhaps you do not need a representative in Florida as a VP?


  3. Helpful (2)

    "Bonhams Client Services"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    Former Employee - Client Relations & Business Development Coordinator in San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Client Relations & Business Development Coordinator in San Francisco, CA

    I worked at Bonhams (More than a year)

    Pros

    Nice staff, national and international travel opportunities

    Cons

    Corporate management, facilities & location (San Francisco), pay


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  5. Helpful (9)

    "A company that has sadly lost its way"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    I worked at Bonhams (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Getting to work with very dedicated and interesting people, meeting fascinating clients all over the world and seeing wonderful things on a daily basis.

    Cons

    The company has lost its identity in recent years and is most definitely on a downward spiral with a complete lack of engaged senior management and no interest in moving the company into the 21st century and as such it continues to loose its position in the market. Bonhams continues to be a poorly run business, tied to legacy systems and traditional ways of doing business, just try to buy something, pay for it and collect it online and you will see just how archaic this company is.
    There is so much confusion over who and what they want to be that I can guarantee if you were to ask all employees what Bonhams mission statement is, not one would be able to answer, not even the chairman, who checked out years ago after a fumbled attempt at selling the business.

    Advice to Management

    New blood in senior roles is a must if this company is to achieve its potential.
    Invest in "real" technology partners rather than Quru, this company it killing you.
    Stop spending all your money on buildings that you can't fill and instead spend on people and technology.
    Stop thinking you're Sotheby's or Christies, you're not and don't need to be, look at where you should be in the market place and go out there and dominate it.
    Do everything you can to retain good talent, and think succession planning.


  6. Helpful (5)

    "Why is there no option for zero stars?"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    Pros

    Bagel Fridays. Carbs were my only motivation at this company.

    Cons

    Everything else at this company is deplorable.

    Advice to Management

    Don't be management.


  7. Helpful (3)

    "Great experience low pay"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    Pros

    Learn interesting things about art

    Cons

    No advancement opportunities. Not gonna get hired for a real job.


  8. "Great people but difficult mobility in company structure"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Client Services Representative in Los Angeles, CA
    Former Employee - Client Services Representative in Los Angeles, CA
    Recommends

    Pros

    The people made it great to work there. Those great people are mostly gone however.

    Cons

    Very difficult to move up the ladder. Very traditional ladder structure and all dependent on who you know. Honestly you had to wait for senior management to retire or leave to be progress. Very little pay.

    Advice to Management

    Be open to new talent and how they can progress in your company


  9. Helpful (8)

    "Interesting work, fun colleagues, abysmal upper management"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Specialist in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Specialist in New York, NY
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Bonhams full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    If you're enthusiastic about the collecting field in which you are employed/specializing, you can see and handle some amazing stuff. There is a fair amount of autonomy given for you to go and get business. You're encouraged to get out of the office and find property.

    There is a very collegial feel among colleagues -- people both in the department and in other departments get on well and enjoying hanging out both in and out of the office. You're always surrounded by fascinating people who deal with incredible things.

    Cons

    The upper management is barely aware of what goes on in the office. Employees are seen as replaceable cogs and represent more of a cost that a resource. There are so many layers of beaurocracy that getting some basic necessities like travel or accounting handled can be nightmarish. The management is also blissfully a aware of technological advancement and the company is trapped tied to an absolutely terrible IT partner because the founder is mates with the chairman. Recent management decisions have come without any explanation despite the gravity of the actions. There is seemingly no connection between the income you generate for the company and the monetary reward they pay back to their employees.

    Advice to Management

    Be present and listen to what the people at the front lines are saying. Treat employees like they are individuals, not cogs--especially since the company has no resources besides is employees. Reward success. Give greater attention and compensation to business managers and administrators who excel -- a good administratoris worth so much more in savings that a bad administrator is worth in losses. For heaven sake, allow a bit of technical advancement beyond whatever pitiful ideas are put forth by Quru.


  10. Helpful (3)

    "Business Manager"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Business Manager in Los Angeles, CA
    Former Employee - Business Manager in Los Angeles, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Bonhams full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    The co-workers and the property that you get to work with are great. Co-workers are passionate about what they do.

    Cons

    Needs to catch up to the 21st century in terms of advertising, marketing and operations. Who seriously uses fax machines still?


  11. Helpful (4)

    "Squandered potential"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Bonhams full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Exposure to art and antiques. This is the only reason for working at Bonhams.

    Cons

    Absent management, complete lack of company direction or vision, no employee development, low pay, stifling bureaucracy, chaos and inefficiency, understaffed across the board. Management's obvious (though not admitted) goal is to sell the company, but who would buy it?

    Advice to Management

    Sell it already and let someone else do what you cannot - run a proper business.



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