Acker Merrall & Condit, the world’s leading wine auction house, is expanding to the Midwest. The New York firm has purchased Chicago’s Edward Roberts International, a boutique auction house. Founded in 2001 by Edward Brooks, Edward Roberts International is renowned for auctions that often feature hard-to-come-by offerings. Brooks will stay on and oversee Acker’s Midwest business. The price was undisclosed.
Acker has become the top player in New York and Hong Kong auctions in the past decade, with $98.5 million in global sales in 2010. Brooks, formerly the director of Christie’s North American wine department, built Edward Roberts International into a well-known house, recording $1.5 million in sales in 2010.
“Edward and I have had friendly contact over the years, including discussing the possibility of working together,” said John Kapon, Acker’s CEO. “The timing seemed right, and we were able to come to an agreement relatively quickly. We look forward to working with him in expanding our domestic presence. We feel that competition is a natural part of healthy markets, and that our presence in Chicago will ultimately benefit all wine lovers, no matter where they may be.”
“Given Acker’s pre-eminence and ongoing worldwide growth it only makes sense for them to have a strong local presence in a significant market like Chicago,” said Brooks. "I will benefit from their considerable resources and be able to greatly expand beyond the model Edward Roberts International operated under for the past decade as a boutique auctioneer.”
For years, the Chicago wine auction scene has been dominated by Hart Davis Hart, which topped the domestic market in 2010 with $39 million in sales. Asked about Acker’s acquisition, Paul Hart, CEO of Hart Davis Hart said, “We believe that this shows what an active wine market we have here in Chicago. We welcome the competition.”
Acker will conduct its first Chicago-based fine and rare wine auction Oct. 22.