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High internet bidding at New York auction

Asian buyers were out in force at Sotheby’s New York auction last week, bidding online and by phone in particular. They scooped up several cases of Lafite but it was the US buyers that went for the Burgundy in an auction that made US$3,817,308.

Jamie Ritchie, Sotheby’s head of wine in the US, said: “The most intense bidding came over the internet, where we recorded our highest level of sales at 25%, and over the telephone, where our Mandarin-speaking colleagues were invaluable.”

A bidding war evidently erupted over two magnums of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Montrachet 1996, which sold for $30,250, comfortably beating its estimate of $11,000 to $15,000.

US buyers also bought several of the best-selling lots, including two cases of Lafite 1982 – one with only nine bottles – and another case of DRC Montrachet 1996.

The Asian buyers, principally from Hong Kong, mainland China, Taiwan and Japan, unsurprisingly bid heavily for Lafite 1982 and 2000. The top lot – a case of Lafite 1982 – was sold to an Asian client for $57,475 (high estimate $50,000).

However, just to show that interest in Burgundy hasn’t gone away, one Asian buyer also paid $36,300 for a case of 1993 Chambertin from Armand Rousseau (a name that has proved popular with Asian buyers alongside DRC) when its high estimate was $20,000.

Otherwise though, it was a successful auction and, for now, quells the idea suggested by the drinks business recently that perhaps prices paid at auction were slowing.

Rupert Millar, 12.05.2011

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