After more than a year's absence from the U.S. wine auction arena, Phillips Auctioneers will conduct its first in a series of wine auctions in St. Louis on Nov. 18. "St. Louis is an important niche market for Phillips, and the firm has considerable strength there," said Edward Brooks, the former head of Christie's New York wine department, under whose direction Phillips' wine auction was assembled.
Phillips shuttered its New York wine department in December 1999, just one month after the auction house was purchased for $135 million by LVMH Mokt Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the French luxury goods company whose wine holdings include Chbteau d'Yquem, Krug, Mokt & Chandon, Pommery and Veuve Clicquot. Phillips' last Manhattan sale took place in June 1999. Although no New York sales have transpired in the interim, Park Avenue Liquors, Phillips' retail partner in New York, renewed the firm's wine auction license for this year.
According to Brooks, Phillips' St. Louis sale will be modest, with an estimated worth of $650,000. "It will be strong in mature Bordeaux, with a good Burgundy presence and some nice California wines," he said. "All the wines are being stored in a temperature- and humidity-controlled warehouse." Phillips has its own license to auction wine in Missouri, and no outside retailer is involved, other than a compliance house that will facilitate shipments.
The buyer's premium at Phillips' Nov. 18 sale will remain at 15 percent, while the consignor's fees will be determined on a sliding-scale basis. The auction catalog will be posted online, and absentee bids can be placed on Phillip's Web site, at www.phillips-auctions.com.
Brooks said Phillips has no immediate announcement regarding New York wine sales. "We are looking at various locations but are not prepared to announce a full schedule yet," he said. But given LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault's interest in the auction field and his commitment to the wine business, a serious wine auction presence is expected before long.
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