Robert Brooks has passed at age 64.
Robert Brooks got his start in racing and became well known for his career and involvement in auction houses. When he just 27, he became the youngest auctioneer at Christie’s Auctions as a specialist in automotive sales. He would go on to establish Bonhams as an international auction house with locations in New York and Hong Kong. It’s reported that he passed away after a long illness at the age of 64 this week.
Brooks was born on October 1st, 1956 and was raised in London, with a strong lineage of auctioneering in his family. He told Classic Driver magazine that his father also worked in auctioneering. In the same interview in 2002, he also shared, "I left school to go motor racing, and that failed miserably when I ran out of money aged 19.”
Taking the entrepreneurial he learned at Christie’s, he and most of the department he worked in left in 1989 to start his own venture, and some of the former Sotheby’s staff would join some years later. Fast forward to 2000 and Brooke would acquire Bonhams as a family auction house, renaming it Bonhams and Brooks. He then bought and merged Phillips, causing some controversy and dropping Brooks from the name.
Bonhams rapidly changed and expanded under Brooks’ leadership, and would go on to buying Butterfields auction house from eBay in 2002, moving it to New York, and opening and office and sales room in Hong Kong later on. Brooks took the opportunity to retire when Bonhams sold in 2018, saying "We have always had the intention one day to pass on the business to a new owner who shares our long- term vision for Bonhams.”
Robert Brooks’ impact on automotive auctions is undeniable, and he leaves an impressive legacy and fingerprint on the entire industry.