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Prices at Weekend Auctions Defy Stock Market Decline

Peter D. Meltzer
Posted: April 17, 2000

Auction-goers in both New York and Los Angeles seemed heedless of Friday's record drop in the Dow Jones and Nasdaq indexes, shelling out record sums for fine and rare wines.

At Aulden Cellars-Sotheby's inaugural New York auction on April 15, dozens of red Burgundies sold above their high estimates. Also, a magnum of Chbteau Cheval-Blanc 1947 rose 72 percent above its first-quarter 2000 Wine Spectator Auction Index average to command $9,775. According to Michael Davis, Sotheby's North American wine director, not a single absentee bid was rescinded in the aftermath of the stock market's plunge.

At Zachys-Christie's in Los Angeles, the auction record book was constantly rewritten during the spectacular $3.7 million sale on April 14 and 15. Three bottles of Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon 1994 fetched a staggering $11,500 (up 230 percent from the Auction Index average).

Vintage treasures from the collection of the late Henry Singleton prompted frenzied bidding. A case of Chbteau Mouton-Rothschild 1945 was snapped up for $66,700 (up 157 percent). A dozen bottles of Chbteau Calon-Sigur 1947 rose 396 percent to command $21,850, and a case of the legendary Beaulieu Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve 1951 sold for an unprecedented $24,150 (up 119 percent).

Under the circumstances, collectible wine looks like an intoxicating hedge against inflation.

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Full-access subscribers can view Peter Meltzer's full reports fromthe Aulden Cellars-Sotheby's and Zachys-Christie's sales at Auction Analysis.

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