Canadian wine collector Joshua Latner, 38, may have been worried about whether his wines would sell in today's auction at Christie's in London, but his fears were unfounded. The 400-plus lots of his wine in the sale -- Christie's first for the year -- sold for more than $800,000 and set a positive tone for this year's wine auction market.
"After this sale, the auction market looks very strong," said Thomas Hudson of Christie's wine department. "In December, we had some big sales, but we only sold about 80 percent of what was offered. The market at the time was full of wines, and there were not enough buyers. The sale today had 99.4 percent of its wines sold, and at good prices. I am very happy."
Compared to The Wine Spectator Auction Index for the fourth quarter of 1999, prices at this auction were below market average. However, auction prices in London are historically lower than those in the United States, and the high fourth-quarter averages were boosted by a number of large pre-millennium sales, particularly the record auction of Norwegian collector Christen Sveaas' wines.
Hudson said that in general, the prices paid fell into the mid-range of the estimates provided by Christie's as guides to bidders. A case of 1982 La Mission-Haut-Brion was listed with a reserve price of $1,980 to $2,650, and it sold for $2,225. A case of 1989 Haut-Brion was estimated to sell at $3,530 to $4,620, and it received a winning bid of $3,795.
Among the highlights: A numbered magnum of 1961 Mouton-Rothschild -- No. 1 -- fetched $1,815, while a case of 1961 Pitrus sold for about $35,500. Six bottles of 1989 Le Pin drew $630 per bottle, while three 1989 Pitrus double magnums went for $9,240.
For more information on past auctions, full subscribers to Wine Spectator Online can check out the Wine Auctions section of our site.
Read about Joshua Latner's private wine dinner the night before the sale: