The Hong Kong stock market lost almost 5 percent of its value today. But at end of last week it was up. I guess it doesn’t have any influence on how much people are willing to spend in wine auctions over there. Or does it?
On Saturday, Christie’s held a wine auction with a large part of the stock being sold coming directly from the cellars of first-growth Château Latour. Christie’s and Latour share the same owner, French business magnate Francois Pinault. And the sale generated some record prices with just about everything sold. This went completely against the market trend and recent auctions.
The sale totaled about $4 million, which included the 20 percent the buyers had to pay to the auction house. But some pretty crazy prices were paid by a handful of Chinese wine lovers, according to my sources who attended. For instance, two cases of 1961 Latour went for $171,093 and $155,539, respectively. Six mags of the same wine sold for $124,431. (It would be pretty easy to buy a four-bedroom house in parts of the United States at the moment with that. Maybe two?)
Some of the sales really made no sense. For example, a case of the 1959 Latour sold for $116,654, but six bottles of the same wine went for $7,800 at the Christie’s sale in New York on Nov. 21. That’s a difference of $9,721 a bottle in Hong Kong to $1,300 a bottle in New York. Or how about a case of 1990 Latour that went for $18,665 in the Hong Kong sale while another sold for $6,600 a week earlier in the Big Apple? There were many other examples of wines selling for double or three times the current prices from wine merchants and auction houses.
Obviously at least some of the differences in price can be explained by the provenance of the wines. The buyers in Hong Kong knew that the wines came directly from the cellars of Latour. Provenance doesn't get any better than that. So there was some guarantee of the quality of the wines. And Latour laid on a lavish dinner and tasting with many of the old wines; so the buyers knew what they were getting. But I think the high prices paid in Hong Kong paid were a question of lack of information about the wine market, or just sheer ostentatious behavior. Perhaps a combination of the two?
Obviously, some people are still very, very rich, and they can spend their money as they wish and grossly overpay for whatever they want. I have some GM shares I could sell them for $20 a piece (just joking)! But these aberrations have nothing to do with the real fine wine market. Prices are sliding for ultra-expensive wines as the demand dries up and speculators look to liquidate their inventories.
Sandy Fitzgerald — Centennial, CO — December 2, 2008 2:27pm ET
Jeffrey Ghi — New York — December 2, 2008 2:33pm ET
Jim Mccusker — Okemos, MI — December 2, 2008 3:14pm ET
Bill Robinson — Calgary — December 2, 2008 3:24pm ET
Marcello Buontempo — December 2, 2008 3:45pm ET
Andrew J Walter — Sacramento,CA — December 2, 2008 4:42pm ET
Massimo Marinucci — December 2, 2008 6:44pm ET
Dennis D Bishop — Shelby Twp., MI, USA — December 2, 2008 7:13pm ET
Thomas Bohrer — Hong Kong — December 3, 2008 2:20am ET
Brian — costa mesa, ca — December 3, 2008 3:22am ET
John Lin — TW — December 3, 2008 9:44am ET
James Suckling — — December 3, 2008 9:56am ET
Jon — Fairport, NY — December 3, 2008 10:03am ET
James Suckling — — December 3, 2008 10:10am ET
Tony Aukett — Chicago, IL — December 3, 2008 10:33am ET
James Suckling — — December 3, 2008 10:41am ET
Michael Tracy — Corona, CA — December 3, 2008 11:19am ET
Mark Reinman — NJ — December 3, 2008 8:27pm ET
Ann Suchta — Wimington, Delaware — December 3, 2008 9:11pm ET
Brian — costa mesa, ca — December 4, 2008 3:09am ET
James Suckling — — December 4, 2008 3:21am ET
James Suckling — — December 4, 2008 3:23am ET
Gil Lempert-schwarz — Vegas Baby — December 4, 2008 5:51am ET
Peter Chang — Hong Kong — December 4, 2008 6:30am ET
Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions