Dr Ivan Bonchev Realised His Childhood Dream With Apollo Art Auctions


Apollo Art Auctions and Apollo Galleries founder Dr Ivan Bonchev has long been fascinated with antiquities and ancient art. Having graduated from the University of Oxford with a PhD, Dr Bonchev is an expert in numismatics and ancient and cultural art.

Dr Bonchev opened Apollo Galleries in 2008, launching his auction business nine years later. Apollo Art Auctions has established itself as a leading London auction house specialising in a diverse array of ancient art, including Islamic and Asian, as well as ancient coins and relics.

Dr Ivan Bonchev’s interest in history and collecting runs in the family, with his grandfather and great grandfather also being avid collectors. Starting with a collection of coins and silverware passed down from them, Dr Bonchev turned his attention to the antiquities trade, fascinated by the idea of selling antiques ‘because the value of those pieces is subjective’. As Dr Bonchev points out, in terms of selling at a high price, it is about the skill of the seller, dealer or auctioneer.

At the age of 9 or 10, Dr Ivan Bonchev joined several numismatic societies, regularly attending coin fairs. When he began selling on eBay aged just 13 years old, Dr Bonchev’s mother had to open a bank account for him in her name, as he was too young to open one himself. This is when Dr Bonchev’s trading in coins and antiques really took off.

Spending much of his spare time watching auctions at Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Bonhams, by the age of 12 Dr Ivan Bonchev knew he wanted to open his own auction house. For his undergraduate and master’s degrees and his PhD, Dr Bonchev studied numismatics, ancient art and classical archaeology at Oxford.

Operating a gallery-style auction house, Dr Bonchev provides clients with a full range of services, taking care of collections on their behalf, sourcing pieces for them and providing in-house shipping. In addition, the auction house also hosts events in its gallery in central London, inviting clients to lectures and other events.

Reflecting on Apollo Art Auctions’ most notable lots, Dr Ivan Bonchev cites an extremely well preserved and fully authenticated crusader knight’s iron helmet that realised more than $100,000. Operating vigorous vetting procedures, Apollo Art Actions has equipment for X-ray fluorescence and thermoluminescence analysis, performing scientific tests on objects exhibited at the gallery. In addition, Apollo Art Auctions also collaborates with the Art Loss Register to ensure that all lots are legal, as well as striving to find extra information for provenance, a factor that is particularly important for ancient art.


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