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NY retail first for Sothebys

Auctioneers Sotheby’s has launched its first retail and online outlet based in New York.

Jamie Ritchie, CEO of Sotheby’s Wine, Americas and Asia, described the selection as “rather broad”, with wines on offer for between US$13.95 and $40,000, from Lafite to smaller producers such as Château Franc Couplet.

The store is based on an existing merchant, Aulden Cellars – designed by Deanna Kuhlmann-Leavitt – which Sotheby’s bought out in 2008 and continued to do business from.

In 1994, when Sotheby’s set up its auction house in New York City, state laws stipulated that any auction houses wanting to deal in fine wines needed to partner with an established independent store that had held a state liquor licence for 10 years.

Sotheby’s were partnered with Sherry-Lehmann until 1999, but when that ended it found another partner in Aulden Cellars.

If the format is successful there has been talk of setting up further stores in other US states.

The decision to expand into the retail sphere was taken after strong auction performances in the first half of this year in New York.

Total sales were $35 million – a 76% increase on the same period last year, according to the auction house.

As well as selling fine wine, the outlet will provide a fully rounded wine service with advice on starting a cellar, food and wine matching and how long to store wines.

Through the online side of the business, Sotheby’s will also be able to ship to half of the 50 US states and overseas.

Ritchie said: “We have been planning this business for a long time as we often speak to people who would like to buy wine from Sotheby’s but who want more flexibility and immediacy than bidding in our auctions.

“With the launch of our retail wine business we can now offer a complete service to anyone with an interest in wine. Our selection includes the best producers, but also our favorite wines that may be less well known and which are sometimes exclusive to us in the US.

“It’s an exciting time to launch this business. With the combination of our new retail store and website, technology is playing an ever bigger role in how people purchase wine and we are keen to see how user-friendly our new website is in helping them find their favorite wines and make new discoveries.”

Sotheby’s store is located at 1334 York Avenue on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. For more information visit

Rupert Millar, 23.09.2010

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