Samuel M. "Beau" Freeman, II today announced that agreements have been signed that will transfer the controlling interest in Freeman’s, the country’s oldest auction house, to the current management team of Hanna Dougher, Chief Operating Officer; Alasdair Nichol, Vice Chairman; and Paul Roberts, President. The Freeman family will maintain a minority interest in the company and Beau Freeman will continue in his role of Chairman of the Board of Directors. The transaction includes the transfer of the Freeman’s location at 1808 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia where the company will continue to operate. It is anticipated that the closing of the transaction will occur within the next several weeks.
Freeman’s, established in Philadelphia, PA in 1805, is a world class auction house with an established international presence. It is the oldest auction house in the United States and one of the oldest in the world. Freeman’s maintains a strong focus on client service built on the experience of its specialists in 13 departments including fine arts, antiques, jewelry, books & manuscripts, Asian arts, and 20th & 21st century design.
We have held the proud distinction of being a family-owned and operated business for six generations, which is unheard of in today’s age, said Beau Freeman. Passing Freeman’s on to Hanna, Alasdair, and Paul, who have led the business for the past 16 years, feels as though we are keeping the business in the family and I am confident they are the right team to continue to lead the company into the future. The Freeman family has run the auction house since its inception over 210 years ago, and in partnership with the current executive team, the Freeman’s brand has been re-established as a leader in the auction market. This transition will support the team’s growth strategy.
A plethora of historically important objects and collections have passed through the company over the years, from a copy of the Declaration of Independence and Andrew Wyeth paintings to the H. Richard Dietrich, Jr. Collection of U.S.S. Constitution Colors and The Lehman Brothers Collection. Equally important offerings have included works by Fabergé, Cartier, Calder, and Nakashima. Within the past five years, Freeman’s has witnessed its most significant growth with top prices and auction records achieved for American and European art, Modern and Contemporary art, Asian arts, and Americana.
We have ambitious plans to build the next chapter in Freeman’s storied history as we continue to elevate the brand both nationally and internationally, said Alasdair Nichol, Vice Chairman. Our leadership team’s plan includes continued expansion throughout North America as well as internationally, enhancing our historic home at 1808 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia, and a focus on technology and marketing. We are extremely grateful to the Freeman family for their confidence in us, entrusting us with an invaluable family asset.
Added Mr. Nichol, "We remain committed to the Freeman’s core values, long-standing company tradition, the fabulous Freeman’s team, and to our focus on adaptation, while at the same time recognizing that a great opportunity lies ahead."
In addition to its auction house presence in Philadelphia, Freeman’s has regional locations in Boston, MA; Richmond, VA; Charlottesville, VA; Wayne, PA; and Beverly Hills, CA; along with an international presence in London and Edinburgh through its strong alliance with Lyon & Turnbull. As part of its expansion in the international market, Freeman’s will host its inaugural Hong Kong Auction on May 31.
The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who are the new owners of Freeman’s?
The new owners of Freeman’s have been part of the Freeman’s management team for the past 16 years. This includes Hanna Dougher, Chief Operating Officer; Alasdair Nichol, Vice Chairman; and Paul Roberts, President. The owners will retain their respective roles and now also have a controlling interest in the company.
What is the new team’s history with Freeman’s?
This team, in partnership with the Freeman family, has re-established the brand as a leader in the auction market. When the three of them joined Freeman’s around 1999, they oversaw heavy investment in the building at 1808 Chestnut Street, implementation of more modern marketing techniques, more emphasis on customer service, and perhaps most importantly, recruitment of respected business winning departmental specialists.
Is the Freeman family still involved?
Yes, the Freeman family will retain an ownership interest in the company and Samuel M. “Beau” Freeman, II will retain his role as Chairman of the Board of Directors. The Freeman family is supportive of this transition.
Will Freeman’s continue to be based in Philadelphia?
Yes, the transaction includes the transfer of the Freeman’s location at 1808 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia where the company will continue to operate.
What is so exciting about this?
The new leadership team has ambitious plans to build the next chapter in Freeman’s storied history as they continue to elevate the brand both nationally and internationally. Key to the future is the renewal of the company’s 200 year commitment to embrace and exploit change, to study shifting markets and take advantage of opportunities that may come along.
What changes can clients expect?
Freeman’s clients will not be impacted in any way by this shift. The team’s goal is to make positive strategic changes that will bring greater value and greater opportunity to Freeman’s customers.
Will there be any changes to the auctions or auction schedule?
No, there will not be any immediate changes to Freeman’s auctions or schedule.
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