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First tranche of Pierre Chen’s ‘ultimate wine collection’ achieves US$16.8 million at auction

One of the largest and most valuable wine collections to ever come to market, the cellar of Taiwanese art collector Pierre Chen, has raised US$16.8 million in the first tranche of the four-part international sale. 

The collection, which is expected to raise US$50 million overall, was one that was “staggering both in volume and range”, according to Sotheby’s auction house, comprising around 25,000 bottles of extraordinarily rare bottles and “mythical vintages”.

The first sale, The Epicurean’s Atlas: The Encyclopaedic Cellar, was designed to show the breadth, quality and rarity of the cellar and took place in Hong Kong on 24 and 25 November. Three further sales will take place over the course of the year, celebrating specific wines and wine-producing regions, and will take place in France, New York and Hong Kong.

Nick Pegna, Sotheby’s global head of wine and spirits called it “the ultimate wine collection”, which had come to the market at a time when “global interest in fine wine has arguably never been greater”, saying it was “a thrill to see both established and new collectors out in force” with their enthusiasm for the offering “evident in the strength of their bids.”

The top three lots included 10 bottles of Vosne Romanée, Cros Parantoux 1999 Henri Jayer, which sold for HK$1,875,000 (US$240,488), becoming the highest prices ever achieved for this wine at auction, along with 12 bottles of Chevalier Montrachet 2007 Domaine d’Auvenay, which sold for HK$1,875,000 (US$240,412) and three magnums of La Tâche 1971 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, which exceeded its high estimate to fetch HK$1,250,000 (US$160,275), a new auction record for a case of magnums of 1971 La Tâche.

George Lacey, head of Sotheby’s Wine, Asia, said the first sale in the series attracted collectors from across the world, from across Asia to the US and the UK.

He said: “This first sale really was a top-to-bottom roll call of the greatest wines that have ever been made. The highlights are too many to mention, but reigning supreme among the red Burgundies were Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and Henri Jayer, with white Burgundies of extraordinary maturity in close proximity to the top spot.”

“Pierre’s decision to part with these wines was driven by his desire to share – that is, for others to have access to, and enjoy in good company, these extraordinarily rare and delicious wines, just as he continues to do. With this sale, that goal was fully accomplished, attracting hundreds of bidders and buyers, all eager to capitalise on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Other lots included five magnums of Faiveley Musigny from vintages spanning 2015 to 2019, which were produced from Chen’s own vineyard in Burgundy, which sold for a combined total of HK$787,500 (US$101,004), while six bottles of Cheval Blanc 1947 sold for HK$375,000 (US$48,402).

Chen said that it the decision to offer wine from his collection was with the aim of “sharing them with the widest possible community of wine collectors and enthusiasts around the world – something this sale has admirably achieved – in order that they too could share and enjoy them as I do.

Events and tasting will be held across the year ahead of the sales in Beaune (The Epicurean’s Atlas: Live in the Vines),  Paris (The Epicurean’s Atlas: The Ultimate Champagnes), New York (The Epicurean’s Atlas: Around the Globe)  and Hong Kong (The Epicurean’s Atlas: The Zenith) in November 2024.

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