World-famous conductor Zubin Mehta opened the bidding of a wine auction in Florence on May 4 that raised more than $65,000 for the Tuscan city's well-known theater, Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino.
Mehta is the musical director of the theater, and the money from the auction will be used to sponsor Mozart's opera Die Entführung aus dem Serail, which is slated for May 2002 in Florence.
About 500 people jammed into the theater for the sale, which included more than 145 lots of French and Italian wines from top vintages. Some donations came from well-known French producers -- such as Bernard Arnault, head of the LVMH luxury goods group and part-owner of Bordeaux's Cheval-Blanc; and Baroness Philippine de Rothschild of Château Mouton-Rothschild -- as well as Italian vintners, including Antinori, Biondi-Santi, Corsini, Frescobaldi, Folonari, Mazzei, Planeta and Ricasoli.
Some of the more interesting lots sold included a magnum of Jacopo Biondi-Santi's Schidione 1997 for $1,300, a magnum of Antinori's Tignanello 1990 for $600 and a 3-liter bottle of Sassicaia 1997 for $800. A jeroboam of Mouton-Rothschild 1975 sold for $1,400. Florence-based auction house Casa d'Aste Pandolfini organized the sale.