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Sothebys celebrates second-biggest sale of the century

The autumn season kicked off at Sotheby’s in fine style with a two-day auction of fine and rare wines and more record prices.

The auction, celebrating 40 years of the Sotheby’s Fine Wine Department, raised a total of £2,412,194, the second-biggest auction of this century.

Sotheby’s director of wine, Stephen Mould, told the drinks business he was “delighted” with the outcome and said it was “a fitting way to celebrate 40 years of Sotheby’s Wine Department.”

Over 1,000 lots were auctioned off in four sessions on the 22 and 23 September.

The jewel in the crown of the sale was a vertical of Mouton-Rothschild, which included a bottle of every vintage from 1945 to 2003 excluding 1948.

Valued at £15,000 to £20,000, the hammer finally came down at £50,600.

Many of the items reached and often exceeded their high-end estimates, sometimes by several hundred pounds, sometimes by thousands.

Mouton also produced some good results in the shape of a case of 1982 that sold for £13,800, comfortably above its £10,000 asking price.

Bottles of 1986 and 1990, 1996 and 2000 also produced strong results for the château. Lafite and the other first growths also put in strong performances.

Lafite in particular galvanised buyers into pushing prices above their estimates. A case of 1996 valued at £7,200-£9,000 eventually went for £14,375 and a case of 1982 was sold for £34,500 – £8,500 more than its high-end estimate.

Champagne also saw strong returns with a case of Dom Pérignon 1996 going above its £900 high estimate to £1,058, single bottles of Krug’s Clos d’Ambonnay 1995 selling for £1,668 and a bottle and two magnums of Pol Roger’s Winston Churchill 1998 doubling to £805.

Various incarnations of Domaine de la Romanée Conti, Richebourg, La Tâche, Grands Echézeaux and Echézeaux in cases and magnums pushed their high-end estimates with six magnums of La Tâche 1987 reaching the highest bid of £8,970.

It wasn’t all Burgundy, claret and Champagne though, as Italian, German and Chilean wine all made an appearance.

The German wine, four 12 bottle cases of Gau Köngerheimer Vogelsang Beerenauslese 1963, impressed, doubling their high-end estimates to finish on £437 each for the two cases in the best condition and still high on £391 for the other two.

The stage is now set for Sotheby’s upcoming auction in New York and two in Hong Kong, each of which are expected to generate a great deal of interest.

Rupert Millar, 24.09.2010

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