A collection of 16,889 bottles of high-end wines from an anonymous seller known only as the Transcendent Collector has set a sales record of £23 million at auction in Hong Kong.
Sotheby’s had predicted the three-day sale would fetch a total of $26 million (£19.9m), a figure that would have already set a new world record for a single-owner wine collection.
The collection, which it described as being of "a scale the like of which has never been seen before", included first-growth Bordeaux and grand cru Burgundies, as well as an extensive set of Dom Perignon champagnes dating as far back as 1926 and Krug vintages spanning six decades from the 1950s.
The auction also included more than 275 lots of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, the most coveted Burgundy wine, from vintages spread over five decades. Last year, one of the vineyard’s bottles from the 1945 vintage broke the world record for a single bottle when it was sold in New York for $558,000.
Sotheby’s said that sought-after Bordeaux, such as La Mission Haut-Brion 1945 and bottles of Chateau Lafite 1961, were also among the wines sold, along with 600 lots of Domaine Coche-Dury, including Corton-Charlemagne from 1988 to 2012 and Meursault Perrières bottled between 1982 and 2014.
Ahead of the sale, Adam Bilbey, head of wine sales for Sotheby’s Asia, said, “We are confident in the quality of the wines and the providence, this could set the world record."
“This particular collector is a shining example of the new wave of collectors in the world”, he told Deutsche Welle TV. “Somebody who was lucky enough to have the wealth to start buying wines at a very young age and really focus on the very, very best”.
The auction house was neverthless coy about the identity of the individual selling off his collection, although details in the sale catalogue do provide some information. The collector is described as a fifth-generation property developer who is originally from Asia but who now has homes in a number of foreign countries.
"A true pioneer, the Transcendent Collector honed his tastes at an early age, choosing to focus on wines that he loved and appreciated," Sotheby’s said, describing the 2704-lot collection as one of "unprecedented breadth and depth".
Buyers prefer single-owner sales because it enables them to more easily verify the wines’ provenance and storage history.
“You just don’t see collections like these come along very often”, Sarah Heller, a master of wine at Heller Beverage Consultancy, told Bloomberg. “People will look at it as a barometer of interest, and the rarefied world of top Burgundy collectors will be watching with bated breath”.
Sotheby’s Hong Kong will on Monday hold a further auction of a special edition of 25 cases each containing five bottles of Mouton Rothschild that have been stored at the Bordeaux chateau since they were bottled in 1945. Each of the 25 identical lots comes with an invitation for two to attend a dinner at the Palace of Versailles, where the vintage will be served. Each case is expected to sell for between $15,000 and $25,000.
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