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Wine Auctions Total $90 Million in 2002

Christie's regains overall lead in global sales, while Acker Merrall & Condit tops U.S. sales.

Peter D. Meltzer
Posted: December 26, 2002

Despite the uncertain economic climate, sales of fine and rare wine at auction remained relatively stable in 2002. According to year-end figures just released by the major commercial auction houses, worldwide volume totaled $90 million -- a 1 percent drop from 2001. In addition, Internet auction earnings contributed an estimated $17.5 million to the mix.

New York City gained the most in market share, with $53 million in sales, a 24 percent increase over 2001 -- solidifying its position as the foremost auction center in the world. Morrell & Co.'s dramatic turnaround from $3.5 million last year to $11 million in revenues this year, along with Zachys' successful entry into the arena as an independent auctioneer, accounted for the city's windfall. Morrell & Co. also recorded the highest individual sale of the year: nearly $5.2 million for a 23,000-bottle private collection sold in September.

Acker Merrall & Condit, however, emerged as the national auction leader, posting $17.2 million in revenues from its New York, Los Angeles and Internet sales. NYWinesChristie's followed with $15.6 million in revenues. Aulden Cellars—Sotheby's, which only conducted sales in New York this year, came in third overall in the United States, but topped Manhattan with a tally of $13.3 million. Winebid.com led on the Web, with a reported $14.2 million in sales.

In contrast to the U.S. markets, sales in London, once the capital of the wine-auction world, dropped 21 percent from 2001 to $20.7 million this year. Christie's reported $12.4 million in U.K. sales compared to Sotheby's $8.3 million. Internationally, Christie's regained its position as top-grossing wine auctioneer (which it last held in 2000), with $33 million in worldwide sales.

This year's most expensive wine lot was a case of Château Mouton-Rothschild 1945 that fetched $87,000 at Zachys. Among the other highlights of the year, a dozen bottles of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti 1978 commanded $69,000 at NYWinesChristie's, and 12 bottles of Château Latour-à-Pomerol 1961 brought in $54,000 at Aulden Cellars—Sotheby's.

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Full-access subscribers can view recent auction results and analysis, upcoming events and the Wine Spectator Auction Index in the Collecting section of our site.

Read highlights of auction news from the past year:

  • Oct. 28, 2002
    Zachys Is Back With $3.65 Million Solo Auction

  • Sept. 25, 2002
    Christie's Holds First Wine Auction in Paris

  • Sept. 23, 2002
    Morrell Muscles Market With $5 Million Auction

  • July 15, 2002
    2002 Wine Auction Sales Down 12 Percent in Second Quarter

  • May 10, 2002
    Zachys Resumes New York Wine Auctions

  • March 28, 2002
    Demand Intensifies for Top-Quality Collectibles at Auctions in First Quarter

  • Jan. 3, 2002
    Christie's Names New Retail Partner for New York Auctions
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