Private banker Timothy Lo has splashed out a record HK$2.56 million for a collection of French wine dating back four centuries. Auctioneer Acker Merrall & Condit said the price was an auction world record for a single lot of 70 bottles of Chateau Lafite Rothschild, featuring vintages aged from 1799 to 2003. Lo said he had been a dedicated wine collector and drinker for more than 20 years and the Lafite was one of his favourites. 'It was there, it was in my budget, so I bought it,' he said. Lo said he was thrilled with his purchase and was looking forward to drinking them with friends - at least those bottled within the last 30 years. Yesterday's Lafite splurge was not the only purchase made by the managing director of French private bank CIC Investor Services; he and one of his mainland friends spent HK$6 million to HK$7 million between them at yesterday's auction, but who's counting? And anyway, he said, the wine was secondary to those you chose to drink it with. 'Wine is just the companion. It's the friends that are important,' he said. Lo said about 70 per cent of the buyers at the auction at the Island Shangri-La were from the mainland. 'Lafite is the most famous wine in mainland China. From my friend's point of view, wine is reasonably priced in Hong Kong, because the tax is more than 70 per cent on the mainland,' he said. 'He can come here and take a few bottles back each time.' Acker Merrall & Condit's auction director John Kapon said HK$57.6 million was spent during the two-day auction.