Sotheby’s Auction To Watch: “Great American” Wine Collection In Hong Kong

All Eyes On Trophy Lots Like Case Of Château Pétrus 2000

The first Sotheby's wine auction of 2010 will take place January 23 at the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong (Image courtesy Sotheby's)

The first Sotheby's wine auction of 2010 will take place January 23 at the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong (Image courtesy Sotheby's)

Hong Kong has, since abolishing wine tariffs last year, become the darling of the wine auction world, and perhaps no company has benefited more from the city’s wine boom than Sotheby’s. With Asian buyers snapping up 57% of wine by value (PDF) at worldwide Sotheby’s auctions this year, the start of regular sales in Hong Kong, a significant increase in the mainland Chinese collector base, and the huge success of the “Classic Cellar from a Great American Collector” series, Sotheby’s wine department has a lot to be thankful for as 2010 approaches. As Serena Sutcliffe MW, Sotheby’s Worldwide Head of Wine recently said,

[2009] will be remembered as the one in which Asian collectors overtook the US in the purchase of fine wine at auction. The demand for top vintages from the very best Châteaux has been so consistently strong this year that our sales, with only one exception, have achieved totals above their top estimates. The highlights in New York and Hong Kong have clearly been the two major private cellars from the US that have been so well received by collectors in Hong Kong and China.

So, after a banner year, in which Sotheby’s took in over $41 million in wine sales — their fourth-highest total ever — how, and where, to begin the company’s 2010 wine auctions? Coming off of 2009’s momentum, they naturally head to Hong Kong first. On January 23, Sotheby’s will hold its first wine auction of the year, the fourth installment of the Classic Cellar from a Great American Collector series. Comprised of 840 lots, expected to raise US$3.6-5.2 million (HK$28.5-40.8 million), this sale — the first-ever standalone Sotheby’s wine auction in Hong Kong — is expected to follow the previous three installments in going well above high estimates.

Sotheby’s, rightfully, has high hopes for this collection, which they’ve referred to as the greatest they’ve ever sold. Considering they’ve taken in US$13,541,845 so far from the first three installments, that’s  hard to dispute. According to Patti Wong, Chairman of Sotheby’s Asia, on the strength of recent auctions, we can expect to see even more wine auctions taking place next year in Hong Kong:

We begin 2010 with an exciting addition to our regular biannual series of auctions in Hong Kong in April and October. Such has been the enthusiasm, excitement, demand and growth in our wine sales that we have expanded our programme and will be holding additional wine auctions, alongside those scheduled for our regular series.

Expected highlights of the January 23 sale include more than 59 lots of Château Pétrus from 1975-2005, more than 80 lots of Château Lafite (hugely popular in mainland China) from 1982-2006, more than 65 lots of Château Latour from 1961-2006, and more than 70 lots of Château Cheval Blanc from 1982-2006.


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