Lloyd Webber to auction wine collection to affluent Asians

Thu Dec 9, 2010 8:15am EST
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HONG KONG (Reuters) - British composer Andrew Lloyd Webber will sell up to $4.1 million of fine wines in an upcoming Sotheby's Hong Kong auction, aimed at tapping soaring demand for fine vintages among Asian wine collectors.

The well-known composer of smash hit musicals such as "The Phantom of the Opera" and "Cats" will be putting up 748 lots of wine, sourced in part from the temperature controlled cellars of his 16th century English home, Sydmonton Court.

The bulk of the vintages in the January 22 sale are French and include 21 cases of Chateau Mouton Rothschild 2005, 10 cases of Chateau Lafite 2005, and two magnums of Domaine de la Romanee Conti -- each worth an estimated $25,000.

"I'm very happy that Sotheby's is bringing part of my precious wine collection to Hong Kong, particularly given that many wine connoisseurs are now in Asia," said Lloyd Webber in a statement.

In recent years, affluent Asians and Chinese with a growing thirst for French Bordeaux have piled into the global fine wine market, paying record prices at auctions, particularly in Hong Kong, which has burgeoned into a major wine hub following the abolition of wine duties several years ago.

Just last month, wine merchants Acker Merrall & Condit sold $12.2 million worth of wine in a bumper Hong Kong sale with spirited Asian bidding triggering higher-than-expected prices including $212,000 for 12 bottles of 1945 Chateau Mouton Rothschild and $175,180 for a "superlot" of 42 bottles of 2005 Domaine de la Romanee Conti.

Sotheby's, meanwhile sold $52.4 million worth of wine in Hong Kong in 2010, a nearly four-fold increase on the year before.

Sotheby's said it expected solid Asian demand for the Lloyd Webber wines given their famous provenance.

"The Andrew Lloyd Webber wine collection has seen many enthusiasms and a plethora of vintages, but the discernment and selectivity have remained a constant," said Serena Sutcliffe, Sotheby's International head of wine in a statement.

(Reporting by James Pomfret, editing )