Wine collectors pay HK$97m for rare vintages

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 04 April, 2011, 12:00am


Asian collectors snapped up cases of select vintages in a two-day wine sale by Sotheby's Hong Kong that netted HK$96.8 million - well above the pre-sale estimate.

The top lot, a case of Romanee Conti 1990, went for HK$1.8 million.

Strong prices were also seen in the best vintages from Burgundy producers, demonstrating its increasing appeal in Asia, the auction house said. All lots were sold.

A Sotheby's Hong Kong spokesman described the response to the sale as 'very, very good'.

Jamie Ritchie, Sotheby's Wine president, said: 'The superb condition of the wines, combined with the rarity factor, created strong demand from bidders throughout Asia.'

The pre-sale estimate of the Ultimate Cellar sale of almost 11,000 bottles was HK$55 million to HK$77 million.

Hong Kong has seen a sustained growth in wine imports and related businesses since 2008 when the government scrapped wine duty.

Last year, the total value of wine imports exceeded HK$6.9 billion - an increase of 73 per cent over 2009 - and Hong Kong surpassed New York to become the world's largest wine auction centre.

In his budget speech, Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah promised to 'further capitalise on Hong Kong's experience and network in wine trading and distribution'.

Sotheby's Hong Kong wine sales totalled US$52.5 million last year - more than its sales in New York and London combined. This accounted for almost 60 per cent of the wine sold by the auction house around the world. By contrast, its sales in Hong Kong in 2009 totalled just US$14.3 million.

The wine sales were followed by an auction of Chinese contemporary art painting. The 106 works were from the collection of Guy Ullens and his wife, Myriam. The Belgian baron, with his wife, founded the Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art in Beijing in 2007.

The auction, The Ullens Collection - The Nascene of Avant-Garde China, was estimated to fetch as much as US$16.7 million.

Buyers who were not represented at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre sale could bid via the auction house's online bidding system.