City wine auction scaled down

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 May, 2009, 12:00am

Bonhams has quietly scaled down its first Hong Kong wine auction of the year amid difficulty in securing consignments from overseas collectors reluctant to sell in a downturn.

The May 20 event will now basically be a wine dinner for about 60 invited bidders from Hong Kong and the mainland. The 90 lots up for grabs are from Hong Kong collectors and members of Crown Wine Cellars, making the event the first all- local sale since the wine duty was scrapped last year.

The wines have an estimated value of about HK$1.8 million before the 19 per cent buyer's premium.

'Since the end of last year, Bordeaux prices have fallen about 30 per cent on average and our estimates have to reflect that. Some prices have fallen to post-1997 levels. If people don't want to sell, we can't force them,' Daniel Lam of the Bonhams wine department said.

'But prices appear to have stabilised somewhat following the Sotheby's auction.'

About 40 per cent of the lots belong to members of Crown Wine Cellars, while the rest are selections from five local collectors, two of whom have their own cellars in Hong Kong.

A second auction planned for later this year might also follow the wine-dinner format if consignments continued to be difficult to secure, Mr Lam said.

Three wine auctions have been held in Hong Kong so far this year, with total sales of about HK$117 million. New York-based Acker Merrall & Condit's auction in March recorded sales of about HK$35 million.

Sotheby's achieved wine sales of almost HK$50 million at the first of its two auctions, while Zachys sold HK$32 million worth of wine two weeks ago. Christie's will also sell wine on May 24.

In April last year, Bonhams staged the first wine auction since the abolition of duties and achieved sales of about HK$11.5 million. A second sale in October reaped HK$12.6 million.