Christie's Hong Kong wine auction nets $4 million

Sat Nov 29, 2008 12:16pm EST
 
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HONG KONG (Reuters) - Global auction house Christie's sold HK$31.54 million ($4.07 million) of fine wine at a Hong Kong auction on Saturday, capitalizing on the growth of Asian demand for top vintages.

Sales at the auction, which was buoyed by a rare collection of vintages sourced from Chateau Latour's reserve cellars, topped a pre-sale estimate of $3.2 million, with 94 percent of lots sold.

Asian buyers bid strongly and paid well above market premiums for the vintages from Chateau Latour, which was bought by Christie's owner, French businessman Francois Pinault, in 1993.

A 12-bottle case of the 1961 vintage, considered one of Chateau Latour's greatest wines, fetched HK$1.32 million, a world record price at auction for that particular vintage, said Christie's.

Bidding appeared inconsistent at times, however, with an equivalent-sized batch of six magnums or double bottles of the same 1961 vintage reaching HK$960,000.

Christie's, which was holding a wine auction in Hong Kong for the first time since 2001, said a 12-bottle case of the 1959 vintage reached a record HK$900,000.

Hong Kong's decision to abolish all wine duties this year, has drawn other major auction houses to hold wine sales in the city including Bonhams and U.S.-based Acker Merrall & Condit.

Acker sold $6.7 million of wine in a Hong Kong sale earlier this month, with the auction's cheaper wines -- many of which sold for 10-20 percent below their guide prices -- enticing Asian buyers despite the financial crisis.

(Reporting by James Pomfret; Editing by Sophie Hares)