Q: I have a 2,500-bottle collection I would like to sell. Local auction houses have placed estimates for the collection from $295,000 to $500,000. Hong Kong auctions see higher prices for wines, though. Should I be considering an Asian auction or will the fees just be too much to offset the possible higher prices?
A: Currently Acker Merrall & Condit, Zachys, Sotheby's and Christie's are all auctioning fine wine in Hong Kong, as well as in the U.S. As you know, prices in Asia for collectible wines tend to be considerably higher than they are in America -- although that may even out as the market matures. Right now, the Asian market favors first growth Bordeaux and DRC Burgundies, so if your collection is predominantly Californian, it would be better to sell here. The final decision on the venue and all relevant consignor's fees, however, is up to the individual auction house. Remember that there is always room for negotiation regarding sellers' fees, particularly with a collection as valuable as yours. I would prepare a detailed inventory of your cellar, indicating fill levels and any relevant aspects of condition and provenance, and send it to each auction house, indicating your preference for a Hong Kong auction. Compare the responses (particularly the estimates and reserves) and decide accordingly. Remember to inquire how they plan to market your consignment.
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