Unrelated to the protests and political upheaval, something historic happened in Hong Kong this week. On October 4, Sotheby’s sold a 114 bottle set of Romanée-Conti wine for $1.6 million, setting the record for most expensive wine lot ever sold at auction.
To put things in perspective, that breaks down to $14,121 per bottle, and $1,700 per glass, for 912 glasses. The sale was made on the first day of Sotheby’s five day Hong Kong Autumn Sales Series–a healthy way to kick off the event. The lucky new owner of this collection, which has bottles spanning from 1992 to 2010, is an unidentified Asian buyer.
Regarded as the finest vineyard in the world-famous DRC estate in Burgundy, Romanée-Conti’s history dates back to the 12th century. This pinot noir based wine was declared, “velvet and satin in bottles” by the Archbishop of Paris in 1780. Today, the wine is still heavily sought after–the vineyard’s biggest problem being counterfeiting, especially across European markets.
Robert Sleigh, head of Sotheby’s Wine, Asia, commented, “The Romanée-Conti superlot presented a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire an unprecedented quantity of the world’s most desirable wine. It is only fitting that it has broken the world record to become the most valuable single wine lot ever sold at auction, at $1,609,776.”
The previous auction record for a wine lot was also set by Sotheby’s: in 2006, 50 cases of 1982 Chateau Mouton Rothschild, which went for $1.5 million in New York. As staggering as the final price for the Romanée-Conti lot is, it didn’t come as a surprise to the auctioneers, given that the lot had a presale estimate of $1.6 million to $2.6 million. And in early September, Christie’s reeled in $174,000 for just a single case of Romanée-Conti at a Hong Kong auction, heralding its desirability in the region.
Also on day one of this week’s sales series, Sotheby’s sold 66 magnums (1.5 liters each) of Henri Jayer Burgundy wine, from the collection of Netscape Communications founder James H. Clark, for $1.1 million.
With all this excitement around its wine sales, the auction house can only hope that its incredible pieces of Asian paintings, ceramics, watches, jadeite and jewels, projected to reel in another $28 million, prove to be just as desirable.