Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Bottle of scotch makes $460,000 at auction

A bottle of Macallan 64-year-old scotch, housed within a Lalique crystal decanter, far exceeded its pre-sale estimate of $100,000-with a winning bid of $460,000-at Sotheby's in New York, this week.

With all proceeds of the sale going to benefit charity: water, the one-of-a-kind bottle, made by Lalique using the cire perdue ("lost wax") method, did a multi-city charity tour before the final event in New York. Scott Harrison, founder of charity: water, spoke before the auction of the idealism behind his organization and the impact that the evening's sale would have on helping to bring clean water to communities in developing countries. He then handed the microphone off to Sotheby's Head of Wine in the US and Asia, Jamie Ritchie, to perform the auctioneer duties.

A gentleman in the crowd eagerly placed the opening bid, sparking a cascading ping-pong of responses from around the room. Bidding quickly passed the $300,000 mark, with phone bidders setting the tone, outpacing most on-hand. Ritchie kept the mood light, cracking an "Only $5?!" joke when a Sotheby's rep asked if he would accept an increase of $5,000 from a potential buyer on the phone. Reminding everyone that the evening's sale would support a good cause, Ritchie broke the $400,000 barrier to a delighted response of the crowd. With everyone's mind wondering if the lot would reach the half-million mark, bidding slowed around $450,000 before finally settling on $460,000. Giving everyone one last chance, Ritchie brought the gavel down to mark the record sale to an anonymous US bidder.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Chinese vase fetches $69.3 million at UK auction

LONDON -- An 18th century Chinese porcelain vase discovered when a house was cleared out was sold Thursday at a London auction for 43 million pounds ($69.3 million).

Bainbridges, the auction house, said that the final price for the 16-inch vase - an imperially commissioned piece decorated with a fish motif - far exceeded the pre-auction estimated price, which was about 1.2 million pounds.

The final amount was thought to be among the highest ever paid for any Chinese artwork sold at auction.

After fierce competition among Chinese buyers, the vase was bought by a Chinese bidder who turned up to bid on behalf of an undisclosed buyer.

The auction house - a small, independent company in the London suburb of Ruislip that runs auctions and valuations for people clearing their homes - said the vase is of exceptional quality and that it knew the estimated price was "a bit conservative." Still, the final price was beyond all expectations.

"The rumors grew as more people came to see it ... but we had no idea it would go for this price," Helen Porter, a spokeswoman at Bainbridges.

The vase was found in "an ordinary home," Porter said. It is believed to have been acquired by an English family during the 1930s or earlier.
The Associated Press
Thursday, November 11, 2010; 5:12 PM

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

The most expensive wine ever sold at auction

Three bottles of Château Lafite Rothschild 1869 became the most expensive wine ever to be sold at auction when they fetched HK $1,815,000 ($232,692) per bottle in Hong Kong on Saturday night, three times the high presale estimate of HK $65,000. All three bottles were sold by phone to a single Asian bidder whose coup was the highlight of the all-Lafite sale by Sotheby's at which every one of the 284 lots was sold. The auction brought in an extraordinary total of HK $65.5 million ($8.4 million), tripling the high estimate of HK $20 million, and confirming Asia's status as the up-and-comer of the global fine wine market. The sale also confirmed the almost hypnotic power of the Lafite name in the Chinese market, a phenomenon that nobody is quite able to explain. Serena Sutcliffe, head of Sotheby's international wine department, thinks it may be because the Chateau's name is easy to pronounce in Mandarin. Others say the craze started with the wildly popular 2006 Hong Kong gangster movie "Exiled," in which the anti-hero rejects a glass of wine, snarling that anything less than Chateau Lafite is "garbage." Supporters of this theory say that soon after the release of the movie, fake bottles of Lafite began to flood the Chinese market.
Buyers at the Sotheby's sale had no fears about provenance as the wine was consigned directly from the cellars of Château Lafite Rothschild in Pauillac and the auction at Hong Kong’s opulent Mandarin Oriental hotel was conducted under the gaze of Baron Eric de Rothschild himself, who had flown in especially for the event.