Following five hours of feverish bidding in Hong Kong on April 3, Ferran Adrià, famed chef at the now-closed Michelin three-star restaurant, El Bulli, along with his staff, celebrated the sale of 445 wine lots sourced from the restaurant’s cellar. Proceeds from the auction, which totaled $1.8 million, will benefit the El Bulli Foundation, a gastronomic research and innovation organization founded by Adrià following the restaurant’s July 2011 closing.
According to Adrià, the auction exceeded expectations. “We wanted to demonstrate that the proposed El Bulli Foundation is very serious and we are fully involved in it,” he told Wine Spectator.
In addition to the wines, the auction, hosted by Sotheby’s, featured numerous lifestyle lots including an exclusive dinner with Adrià, as well as memorabilia and equipment used in the El Bulli kitchen. The $1.8 million easily surpassed the presale estimate of $1.2 million.
Among the top wine lots were selections from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti—three bottles of Romanée-Conti 1990, which fetched a total of $72,576, or $24,192 per bottle. In addition, four bottles of Romanée-Conti 2003 sold for $69,421, and three bottles of Romanée-Conti 2000 sold for $59,954. All three of the DRC lots were sold to a single bidder for his private collection.
Each of the nearly 9,000 wine bottles offered in the auction featured a specially designed El Bulli sticker, and many were signed by Adrià and partner/manager Juli Soler. Four chefs jackets signed by Adrià were sold, as were a large number of menus, wine lists and equipment designed specifically for the restaurant, including an El Bulli Laguiole knife set which sold for $7,728. The dinner with Adrià for four, which will be held in Barcelona, fetched $28,399.
The foundation the sale is supporting is multifaceted—the El Bulli building will be converted into a permanent exhibition space that details the restaurant’s historical and culinary evolution. The foundation will also introduce a culinary center in conjunction with a technological platform called Bullipedia, intended to organize and codify new ideas and concepts in an effort to inspire chefs around the world.
The second half of the auction will take place at Sotheby's in New York on April 26.