On December 20, 2017, it was announced that Morphy Auctions of Denver, Pennsylvania, and Las Vegas, Nevada, has merged with Fairfield, Maine, auction house James D. Julia, Inc., which will become a division of Morphy Auctions. Terms of the deal, which was finalized on December 14, were not announced.
James Julia, president and founder of James D. Julia, Inc., has been involved in the auction business for nearly 50 years. He began as a small country auctioneer in Maine but grew the company to a multimillion-dollar business that currently consists of three divisions: rare firearms; lamps, glass, and fine jewelry; and fine arts, Asian, and antiques.
This is not the first time the two firms have made a deal. In 2015 Julia sold his firm’s antique advertising, toy, and doll division to Morphy.
Morphy Auctions realized annual sales of $35 million last year. Julia generated $43 million in annual sales, which makes for a combined gross of $78 million.
Dan Morphy, founder and president of Morphy Auctions, stated, “I have literally spent all my life watching and learning from Jim. With nearly fifty years in the industry, Jim has an undisputed reputation, and I admire and will emulate his business approach toward his clients and employees. It is an honor and privilege to have this new association with someone I have considered to be a mentor and leader in the industry.
“Over the years, Jim Julia crafted an extraordinary team and unique auction company as a result of his philosophy, business acumen, and direct, honest approach with his clients whether they be buyers or sellers. I have always tried to incorporate the same approach. In merging with Julia’s extraordinary team, I intend to make the transition as seamless as possible. The bottom line is that I not only want to merge Jim Julia’s company and his people, but I want to expand the philosophy of our business to include much of what created extraordinary success for Jim.”
Jim Julia said in a press release, “I had never considered not being in the auction business, and I have, for many years, contended that I, like my father—who passed away at nearly 90 years old this past year—would continue to auction well into my 80s, provided my health allowed it. The limitation in my mind had always been my personal health. But in November of 2016, my wife received a devastating diagnosis of incurable brain cancer. I immediately realized that as much as I loved the people, the antiques, and the excitement of the auction, there was nothing more important in this world to me than my wife, and I elected to devote my time to my wife, Sandy.
“From November of 2016 until today, my auction company never skipped a beat and has been extremely successful under the leadership of my good friend and CEO, Mark Ford, who continued to lead, improve, and expand our company.
“A short while ago, Dan Morphy called to speak with me and asked if I would consider selling the company or doing some sort of joint venture. I explained to him that there were three things that were incredibly important to me; first, of course, was what was in the best interest of me and my wife; second, my obligation to my incredibly loyal and dedicated team of employees; and third, wanting to do what would best serve all of the wonderful consignors and buyers that the company had developed over the years. The ensuing conversations with Dan, and ultimately the deal we were able to put together, allowed me to cover all three of these factors. The employee concern was a highly important one, and with Dan’s likeminded philosophy and practice with his current team, it instilled tremendous confidence in my people as they made their new career commitment to Morphy Auctions.
“As I said, I also had a concern for all the wonderful consignors and buyers that have followed my company for these many years, and I really wanted to see the core philosophy of my business continue and provide my valued customers with a similar special opportunity as they had experienced with Julia’s. Dan’s approach to adopting many of the key components of my business philosophy gave me a great sense of assurance, confidence, and satisfaction in regard to the fact that my customers now and into the future will continue to have a wonderful auction experience as they have for many years with Julia’s.
“I have always admired Dan, his youth, his energy, his tremendous drive, and his success. I knew and did business with Dan before he became an auctioneer and watched him as he entered the auction business and the subsequent dramatic growth he experienced. Dan is a superb leader, and this was very clear and obvious during our negotiations about the melding of the two companies.
“In transitioning my company to Morphy’s, I will miss the wonderful friends I have developed with consignors and buyers throughout my auctions. I will miss the incredible camaraderie of my auction team and the thrilling and exciting experience of the actual auction. Most importantly, I will miss the satisfaction I received from a job well done. I must also say that selling my company to Dan is a great relief. It now has removed all of my responsibilities in regard to auctions and overseeing the management of a valued team. Now Sandy and I can focus completely on each other. I will transition to Morphy Auctions as a consultant for Dan and the team. Under the circumstances, I could not imagine a better conclusion for my business and for Sandy.”
Julia currently has a fine arts, Asian, and antiques auction scheduled for February 8 and 9, and a spring firearms auction for March 21-23. To facilitate a seamless transition, the Julia team will manage and conduct both sales in Fairfield, Maine, as it has in the past. Morphy Auctions will hold all future auctions and accept consignments in its Pennsylvania and Nevada locations.
Originally published in the February 2018 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2018 Maine Antique Digest