Sotheby's offered an unprecedented sale of wines from the cellar of Domaine Clarence Dillon's CEO, Prince Robert de Luxembourg, on May 21, and the response was impressive. Some 4,200 bottles of collectible wines—all 818 lots on offer—were sold during the nine-hour auction, most for above estimate, for a total of more than $6.23 million. And it was all for charity.
The sale was to raise money for the PolG Foundation, which was launched by Prince Robert and his wife, Princess Julie, to raise money for research to help those suffering from mitochondrial diseases. The couple established the organization last year, five years after their son Frederik was first diagnosed with a mitochondrial disease. For the sale, Prince Robert opened up his personal cellars, which includes wines from his family's estates, including Château Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut-Brion, among others, as well as other top wines he has collected over the years.
"On behalf of all of the mitochondrial disease community, my family and the PolG Foundation, I want to thank all of the bidders for providing us with a glass that is not only half full but now brimming over with hope and opportunity," said Prince Robert, in a statement. "I have an empty cellar, but a very full heart."
The biggest sale price was paid for a lot donated not by Prince Robert, but by some of his friends. Haut-Brion is a member of Primum Familiae Vini, a group of family-owned wineries including names like Antinori, Sassicaia, Mouton-Rothschild, Château de Beaucastel and Symington. A beautiful case filled with 12 wines from the members, along with a "passport" to visit each of their estates, sold for $237,500, well above the high estimate of $150,000.
A custom console designed by Prince Robert and Linley of London—which contained a vertical of Haut-Brion vintages selected to celebrate the first eight decades of the Dillon family’s ownership of Château Haut-Brion—sold for $112,500. A jeroboam of Haut-Brion 1926 sold for $87,500.
"The phenomenal result of this exceptional sale is recognition of the reputation and incomparable provenance of the genuinely rare wines that were donated, combined with the importance of the medical research being undertaken by the PolG Foundation," said Jamie Ritchie, worldwide chairman of Sotheby's Wine & Spirits. "We are thrilled to have been able to support the new foundation by raising funds for such a great cause."
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