In a move that will come as no surprise to auction market watchers, John Hart, Michael Davis and Paul Hart are forming a new venture called Hart-Davis-Hart Wine Co. The partners will conduct their first sale in Chicago on Jan. 29, 2005.
"There's a lot of interest in selling wines in this region," Davis said. Hart-Davis-Hart's intent is to showcase cellars of impeccable provenance. The partners plan to offer a traditional mix of fine and rare wines from France, California and Italy, along with strong vertical selections.
Many industry insiders had predicted that the trio, who first worked together at Christie's in the early 1990s, would eventually establish an auction house together.
From 1993 until 1998, Davis and Paul Hart ran their own independent wine auction house in Chicago called Davis & Co., which they eventually sold to Sotheby's in 1998. After working together as heads of Sotheby's North American wine department, the two teamed up with John Hart Fine Wine in November 2003. Proprietor John Hart (no relation to Paul) is a veteran of the fine wine business and a cofounder of the Chicago Wine Co. auction house. (He is no longer affiliated with the latter.)
"Hart-Davis-Hart will follow the same format established by Davis & Co.," Davis said. "We will conduct our auctions at Chicago's University Club, with a presale tasting and buffet. We've spent the past several months learning John Hart's retail business, developing a state-of-the-art Web site, and building an expert team composed of John's staff and a handful of former colleagues from both Sotheby's and Davis & Co."
Hart-Davis-Hart is banking that its sophisticated Web site (www.hdhwine.com) will prove a major attraction, as it will appeal to retail customers, as well as auction buyers and sellers. The company inventory may be searched by keyword, vintage, rating, category and price, with an e-mail link to its experts for assistance with retail sales, consignments and auction needs. Registered users will be able to place advance bids, and, eventually, live bids will be accepted online.
As of January, there will be three wine auction houses in Chicago -- Hart-Davis-Hart, Edward Roberts International and Chicago Wine Co. -- and a total of eight nationwide, making for a very competitive marketplace.
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