The art consultancy Gurr Johns acquires the London company Forum Auctions, which specializes in works on paper. Founded in 2016 by former investment banker Stephan Ludwig, Forum will join the firm’s new auction division.
A major player in the auction space known for liaising on prime buys, Gurr Johns has previously acquired smaller London auction houses, such as Dreweatts and Bloomsbury, which he bought for 1.25 million sterling in 2017. The acquisition of Forum marks an attempt to target the high end of the mid-level art market and engage with a wider clientele.
Ludwig will now serve as joint managing director of Gurr Johns alongside Ben Clark, who oversees the global art consultancy business. Ludwig will be in charge of the firm’s auctions, including his former playground Dreweatts, which in recent months has sold valuable English estates including those of the Sitwell and Hoare families.
Alongside the works on paper and books departments, the house is known for its focus on editions of Banksy and other street artists. The integration agreement for the regional artisanal house will be finalized in January; Forum shareholders will own approximately one-third of the advisory business.
Regional auction houses across the UK have seen their investments in online sales after the onset of the pandemic pay off, as collectors flock to the revamped platforms. Recognizing the need for auction houses to grow their offerings online, Ludwig brought Forum into the digital age, with the house currently operating all of its sales through virtual channels.
Now Gurr Johns is looking to further capitalize on Ludwig’s gains with Forum. “The marked shift in the appetites and activities of global art collectors has spurred the digitization of the art market,” Clark said in a statement. “Revolutionizing the accessibility of works of art to consumers and sellers. Our expanded auction division will offer increasingly innovative and integrated services.