Wine auctions to lure bidder with lower estimates

Thu Jun 4, 2009 2:36pm EDT
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By Leslie Gevirtz

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Six major wine auction houses, including a newcomer, will offer Bordeaux, Burgundies and Barolos at knock-down prices this month and with a few changes to attract new bidders.

The auction houses, which reported lower sales volumes this spring as compared to last, will have estimates on some lots that are up to 50 percent less than they were last year.

"We've been lowering the estimates since the beginning of the year, but the end results have been an increased interest from new bidders and winning bids that have been at the top end of the range," said Charles Curtis, head of wines for Christie's North America.

Christie's is leaving New York City for the Hamptons, the playground of the rich and famous, where it will auction almost 800 lots of wine on June 6 at the Atwater Estate in the Hamptons. The estate is for also on sale through Christie's real estate unit for $29 million.

The wines will be less expensive with a case of Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1982 Bordeaux expected to fetch up to $9,000, about half of what a similar case was offered for last year.

Hart Davis Hart chose an urban setting, Tru Restaurant in Chicago, for its sale of 400 lots, including cases of Chateau Cheval Blanc 2000, a premiere grand cru from St. Emilion.

"The estimates are lower than last year ... but I would be surprised to see prices go any lower for top-notch wines as there is an international demand that is quite strong," said wine consultant Judy Beardsall.

Acker Merrall & Condit, which sold almost $8 million at its May 30 auction in Hong Kong, will auction 828 lots on June 11 in New York, and another 200 lots the next day on the Internet at   Continued...