Mouton Mania

Exhibit of Mouton-Rothschild label art to be accompanied by unprecedented wine auction from Baroness Philippine de Rothschild's personal cellar
Feb 27, 2007

From Feb. 23 through March 10, Sotheby's New York is holding an exhibition of paintings commissioned to illustrate the labels of the famed first-growth, Château Mouton-Rothschild, at its galleries on 1334 York Ave. This is the first time that the collection, which has traveled throughout the world during the past two decades, will be on view in New York.

Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, the current owner of the château, has continued a tradition begun in 1945 by her late father, the legendary Baron Philippe, in which each successive vintage of Mouton features a label depicting an original work by a renowned artist.

The exhibition, which coincided with the Feb. 23 unveiling of the painting for the 2004 label, a watercolor by the Prince of Wales, includes works by celebrated artists such as Joan Miró, Marc Chagall, Georges Braque, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Andy Warhol, Francis Bacon, Robert Motherwell and Balthus. The artists receive two cases of Mouton from the corresponding vintage as compensation for their paintings.

In conjunction with the exhibition, Sotheby's is conducting a historic auction of wines from the private cellar of Baroness Philippine. The prestigious single-owner evening sale, which is expected to bring in $570,000 to $885,000, takes place on Wednesday, Feb. 28. The provenance couldn't be better: All the wines have been housed at Château Mouton-Rothschild and have not budged since they were bottled. Past sales of château consignments have seen winning bids soar far above the high estimates.

"One day in the future, the stock of Mouton-Rothschild 1945, or for that matter, 1982, will be depleted," said Philippine's son, Baron Julien de Rothschild. "Yet the art will live on."

 
A John Huston painting is on the label of the legendary 1982 Mouton.
The vintages included in the sale, which features a significant number of large-format bottles, range from 1887 to 2005. The sale's showstopper should prove to be a jeroboam (5 liters) from the highly acclaimed 1945 vintage. According to the second-half 2006 Wine Spectator Auction Index, the most recent price for a jeroboam of Mouton '45 was $57,360. Nevertheless, given the provenance and condition, it would not be surprising if the bottle exceeded its $80,000 to $150,000 estimate.

Other highlights are a never-before auctioned nebuchadnezzar (15 liters) from the 2000 vintage (estimated at $15,000 to $25,000) and a jeroboam from 1986 (estimated at $6,500 to $10,000). Other large-format offerings include six magnums from 1982 (estimated at $12,000 to $20,000), a magnum of 1953 (estimated at $5,000 to $10,000) and two magnums from 1947 (estimated at $10,000 to $15,000 each).

There are six bottles of 1901 Mouton (estimated at $1,000 to $2,000 each) and three bottles from 1961 (estimated at $6,000 to $10,000 each). Also on offer are five lots of the yet-to-be bottled 2005 vintage, in 750ml to 6-liter (imperial) format. The Baroness' consignment includes treasures from neighboring first-growths such as a Château Lafite Rothschild 1869, Château Margaux 1868 and Château Haut-Brion 1891.

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