• Sun
  • Oct 26, 2014
  • Updated: 1:05am
NewsHong Kong
AUCTION

Secret of former chief secretary Henry Tang's wine cellar remains bottled up

After illegal basement scandal during election, auctioneer refuses to disclose the location of former chief secretary's fine wine collection

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 March, 2013, 5:39am
 

A wine expert given a rare glimpse inside former chief secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen's wine cellar is remaining tight-lipped about its location.

The question of where Tang stored the 810 lots that went under the hammer at Christie's this week is an intriguing one.

His campaign for chief executive was wrecked last year when it was revealed he had a huge illegal basement under his Kowloon Tong home, featuring among other things - a wine cellar.

Without saying if he had been to the Kowloon Tong site, Simon Tam, head of wine in China for Christie's auction house, said Tang's wine was stored in a "handsome cellar".

The 810 lots that went under the hammer in the two-day auction represent just a fraction of Tang's collection, amassed over 30 years.

"From these wines, I see how his collection changed with him over 30 years of passion for wine," said Tam. "Some of these wines were bought in small villages, so tiny you would need to scrutinise a map to find them. The collection represents Tang's personal taste."

Tam said that Tang does not consider himself a "collector", as he buys wine for personal enjoyment rather than as an investment, drawing on comments the politician made in a promotional video produced by Christie's.

In the bidding catalogue, Tang wrote: "I am never deterred, and zealously try to get my hands on as many bottles as possible, sometimes to the point of threatening my supplier with an unmentionable deed.

"I assembled a collection that many would die for, but alas, I am mortal. I realised I have far too much wine, and would be unable to consume it even across multiple life times."

He also advised bidders that there are some "matches made in heaven" that would "warm my heart and stir my soul", such as foie gras paired with Sauternes, or charcoal-grilled steak with cabernet sauvignon.

During the two days of bidding, which ended last night, one buyer paid HK$1.21 million for bottles said to be among the rarest wines in the world - six magnums of Romanee Conti 1995.

Christie's had estimated the total sale would raise up to HK$29 million. But on the first day of bidding on Friday - which featured just a third of the collection - HK$22 million was raised.

Tang has many wine cellars in Hong Kong. The basement that housed the cellar in his Kowloon Tong home also featured a Japanese-style bath and gym.

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