It’s been a stellar year for Bonhams and for Ralph Taylor, who was appointed global head of postwar and contemporary art last September – a title which is testament to the auction house’s increasing presence on the world stage. Since joining the company in 2014, Taylor has overseen four consecutive years of growth. With the highest sell-through rate in the industry, and growth in market share of well over 1,000 per cent since 2014, there really is plenty for Taylor to celebrate.
‘We look for clients we really want to work with, give them good, honest advice, and build long-term relationships,’ he says of Bonhams’ approach. ‘This is not something they will necessarily find elsewhere.’
This targeted approach has more than paid dividends. ‘It comes down to doing everything
to the highest possible standard,’ says Taylor. ‘Bonhams is a very long-established company, but we are a relatively new, emerging department and we find our boutique format suits our client base perfectly.’
Formerly a specialist at Sotheby’s, Taylor was also MD at Lazarides gallery, where he is said to have been instrumental in the shaping of several careers, including Banksy’s.
An artist Taylor admires is Piero Manzoni, whose infamous Merda d’artista remains provocative today. ‘I think it’s beautiful,’ he says. ‘And, of course, very challenging – it still asks difficult and uncomfortable questions about how we value art.’