Richard Harvey, European Head of Wine for Bonhams
and a Master of Wine, has been promoted to head the companys international wine business which includes wine sales in London, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Hong Kong. Matthew Girling, Bonhams CEO Europe, said: This is a very significant appointment for Bonhams. Richard Harvey is a well known and respected figure in the wine world. His new brief to develop the Bonhams wine business internationally will doubtless build on our growing success in this field.
Richard Harvey comments: This must be one of the most exciting times to be working with wine. We have seen the focus of wine sales move in the last ten years from London to New York and it is now firmly based in Hong Kong, thanks to the booming Chinese economy. I look forward to growing Bonhams wine sales with ever more discerning international wine buyers.
Richard grew up in Italy, where the seeds of his subsequent love of food and wine were sown. After what he describes as a false start studying architecture, he joined Prue Leith's catering business in 1972 where his interest in wine developed to such an extent that in 1975 he was appointed to run the Grant's of St James's School of Wine. In 1982 he qualified as a Master of Wine and set up his own business in Dorset.
Richard continued to work with Leiths, running the wine courses at Leith's School of Food and Wine during the 1980s and 1990s, and wrote the Leith's Guide to Wine, published by Bloomsbury in 1995.
Richard joined Bonhams as a consultant in 1997 and has worked as European Head of Wine for the auction house, based in London, since 2006. Bonhams' wine department is part of an international organisation which includes Bonhams & Butterfields in San Francisco and holds highly successful sales on both sides of the Atlantic; seven a year in London and six in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Bonhams offers free advice on both selling and buying wine, planning cellars and carries out insurance and probate valuations.
Bonhams has had a bumper three years. Last month a case of Romanée-Conti 1988 sold for £74,750. Harvey thinks there are a number of reasons for excellent results such as these. We have the advantage of two Masters of Wine working full time [Harveys colleague, Anthony Barne is the other MW and Head of UK Wine], we have expertise which, in my view, beats other auctions houses and I think we work harder. We have a very good private client base who appreciate that, while we sell first growth Bordeaux, we are not just selling the big names but a broad spread of wines. Apart from anything else, I like to make a catalogue interesting.
Above all, were trying to get people interested in wine. Most of the people in Bonhams wine department have been involved in the wine trade, rather than just the auction business. That gives us a broader perspective, a broader knowledge and a broader understanding of the market as a whole.
Richard Harvey has been a Master of Wine since 1982. As such he is part of a group that numbers only 288 worldwide. I was 30, which made me the youngest at that time. No mean feat; more than 2,000 candidates have sat the exam since it was first introduced in 1953 and only 339 people have ever passed.