Our History

Founded in 1896 and a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) since 2003, the firm’s 60 Equity Partners promote progressive growth through a strong corporate culture helping us to recruit and retain the best people. Over the years, Knight Frank has remained wedded to its core objectives of progressing global growth and capitalising on market share opportunities in both the residential and commercial property sectors. Its global network, including US-based Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, now encompasses 412 offices, employs more than 14,000 professionals and spans five continents.

1896: Knight Frank & Rutley was founded as a valuations, surveying and auctions business. Its first sale was held on April 23rd at Conduit Street in London. The rest is history.
1897: The first recorded business property sale is achieved in November, when Knight Frank & Rutley sells a ‘cycle machinery and plant’ business in Battersea for £270 11s 6d.
1898: Howard Frank, one of the founders, places the firm’s first full-page advertisement in the August edition of Country Life.

1909: William Rutley, a co-founder, dies of a heart attack.  
1910: All staff move into 20Hanover Square from Conduit Street.  
1911: The Crystal Palace is sold to Lord Plymouth for £210,000.  
1912: Howard Frank buys the estate agent, Walton & Lee, solely to secure the prime front page position in Country Life magazine.  
1913: The Edinburgh office opens.  
1914: Howard Frank, the senior partner, is knighted.  
1915: Cecil Chubb buys Stonehenge through Knight Frank & Rutley for £6,600 as a present for his wife. She gives it to the nation three  years later.
1917: Howard Frank is made Director General of the combined Directorate of Lands.  
1921: The town of Reigate is sold by Knight Frank & Rutley for £203,840 – the first time the firm has disposed of an entire town.  
1922: The firm handles the sale of Winston Churchill’s house and sells Chartwell to him.  
1924: The Duke of Westminster sells Grosvenor House in Park Lane through Knight Frank & Rutley.  
1925: Knight Frank & Rutley buys 40 acres north of Oxford Street for the Audley Trust.  
1927: The firm advises on the site assembly for the BBC’s world famous headquarters, Broadcasting House in London.  
1931: John Knight, a co-founder, dies.  
1932: Sir Howard Frank dies.  
1935: The contents of the Cunard Liner, Olympia, are sold.  
1937: Most of the town of Lytham St Anne’s in Lancashire is sold – including the celebrated golf course.  
1945: Knight Frank & Rutley sells the contents of the German Embassy, including 20 Nazi flags, 17 safes and a dog basket.  
1958: Knight Frank & Rutley acquires offices in London’s Chiswell Street for BP – at the time, the UK’s largest-ever property transaction.

1964: The firm opens an office in Geneva as a gateway to Europe.  
1965: Knight Frank & Rutley is established in Nigeria.  
1968: The firm acquires Wheatley, Kirk, Price and Co.  
1972: The Geneva office closes in favour of new offices in Amsterdam and Paris.  
1974: Fountains Abbey, Yorkshire, dating back to 1132, is sold for £1 million.  
1979: Knight Frank & Rutley sets up a New York office through a joint venture with Douglas Elliman.

1980: BP’s purchase of Britannic House for £93 million becomes the UK’s biggest single property deal ever.  
1981: In New York, Douglas Elliman Knight Frank sells Pan-American World Airways Intercontinental Hotels Corporation to Grand Metropolitan for $500 million.
1983: Knight Frank & Rutley joins with a leading Hong Kong surveyor to form Knight Frank Kan and Baillieu. The Singapore office is established. 
1984: The firm acquires additional premises at 5 Hanover Square to accommodate the growing number of London headquarters staff - 53 partners and 5 associates.
1986: Qantas Centre, Sydney, is sold for $200 million, becoming Australia’s largest single biggest property sale. Residential Development division is set up at the London Docklands office.
1996: On 1 January, ‘Rutley’ is dropped from the Knight Frank name, to strengthen a cohesive world-wide identity as part of a plan to expand international market share.

2000: Knight Frank sells the Duke of York’s Headquarters in Chelsea, London, on behalf of the Ministry of Defence. The firm increases its stake in the Australian business to 100%.
2003: Knight Frank becomes a Limited Liability Partnership.
2004: Knight Frank is ranked as one of The Sunday Times 100Best UK Companies to Work For.
2005:The firm is appointed to advise on the development of London’s new Olympic Village, ready for the 2012 Games. Establishes Rutley Capital Partners, its real estate private equity business.
2006: With effect from 1 January, Knight Frank establishes a global real estate partnership with leading New York-based real estate service firm Newmark Knight Frank, formerly Newmark.
2007: Knight Frank acquires one of Ireland’s leading commercialand residential property consultancies: Dublin based Ganly Walters Ltd. Increases equity to 100% in Indian operations which now total seven offices and 807 people. Knight Frank expands to more than 165 offices in over 36 countries on six continents, with over 5,000 locally-based professional staff handling £billions of real estate annually.
2008: Knight Frank leaves Hanover Square, its home since 1910, and moves to its new Global HQ in the landmark building at 55 Baker Street, London W1.
2009: Newmark Knight Frank is appointed leasing agent for the world famous Empire State Building.

2010: Knight Frank is appointed on London’s new skyscraper, The Shard, set to be the tallest landmark building in Europe.
2011: Knight Frank successfully pitches for the agency instruction to sell the 40 acre Battersea Power Station site, consisting of eight million square feet of mixed used property. Knight Frank launches multi-lingual website, introduces a new app for the iPhone and iPad and is listed in the Daily Telegraph Top 10 property apps.
2012: Knight Frank’s commercial and residential research teams launch My Knight Frank - a comprehensive library of past and present research publications. Knight Frank wins the Best Corporate Research award for the London 2016 initiative at the 2012 Property Marketing Awards.

2013:  Awards and certifications include CMA Best Specialist Communication: Wealth Report; RESI Awards: Deal of the Year: RESI Awards: International Sales Agency of the Year; ISO 9001: 2000 certified Quality Management System, United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Australia; ISO 14001: 2004 certified Environment Management System, United Kingdom, Hong Kong; ISO 4801: OHS Management Accreditation, Australia

2014: Awards include: NW Insider: Investment Agent of the Year Manchester Office Team; RESI Awards: International Sales Agency of the Year; Yorkshire Property Awards: Office Agency Team of the Year

2015; Awards include: RESI Awards: Letting Agency of the Year; RESI Awards: Residential Investment Agency of the Year; Yorkshire Property Industry Awards: Industrial Agency Team of the Year; Yorkshire Property Industry Awards: Office Agency Team of the Year

2016: Awards include: Estates Gazette Awards: Global Real Estate Adviser of the Year; Property Week Awards: Investment Agency Team of the Year; Property Week Awards: Office Agency Team of the Year; RESI Awards: Investment Agency of the Year; RESI Awards: International Sales Agency of the Year

2017: Knight Frank opened its office in The Philippines.

Knight Frank Australia : History of the corporate entity

Knight Frank Australia Pty Ltd and its predecessor businesses began operations in Melbourne, Australia in 1885 and expanded nationally through the acquisition of interstate businesses to develop a network of state based entities.

Major events in the evolution of the Knight Frank brand in Australia and the ownership of Knight Frank Australia Pty Ltd include:

  • in 1981, co-branding the Baillieu name on all State entities
  • in 1983, the Baillieu Group admitted the UK based partnership of Knight Frank & Rutley as a shareholder
  • in 1985, the brand name of Baillieu Knight Frank was adopted by all State entities
  • in March 1994, Knight Frank Hooker Australia was created out of the merger of Baillieu Knight Frank and Hooker Corporate, a wholly owned division of the Suncorp Group (use of the Hooker name ceased in 1996),  and
  • on 30 June 2000, the UK partnership of Knight Frank (now Knight Frank LLP) acquired 100% of Knight Frank Australia Pty Ltd.

Knight Frank Australia Pty Ltd and Knight Frank Corporate Services Pty Ltd are siblings – they are both wholly owned subsidiaries of our Australia holding company, Knight Frank Australia Holdings Pty Ltd.