Recent research shows the value of fine wine investment has outperformed luxury Hermès handbags and Rolex watches during the pandemic. Auction house Sotheby’s record-breaking year in wine and spirits sale in Asia certainly reinforced Asian market’s bullish strong demand for fine wine and its surging investment value.
The auction house’s three-day sales series in Hong Kong featuring five auctions concluded on October 9 with a total of HK$196 million (US$25 million) in sales, an outstanding leap from the pre-sale estimate of HK$133 – 199 million (US$17 – 26 million), making it the third highest total for Sotheby’s Wine & Spirits Sales Series in Asia.
The series also broke Sotheby’s record by bringing a year-to-date total of HK$515 million (US$66 million) in Asia and HK$700 million (US$90 million) worldwide.
The news came after the latest Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index revealed fine wines ranked first by value compared with luxury watches such as Rolex and Cartier or luxury handbags including Hermès Birkin handbags and fancy cars in the 12 months to the end of June 2021.
Meanwhile, rare whiskey topped the chart for 10-year Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index with a 483% increase in value over years.
One of the highlights from Sotheby’s October three-day series was presented by the renowned art and wine collector Pierre Chen. The thirty-year collection features wines from the finest producers in Bordeaux, Burgundy and beyond collected by him.
The wine sale was called The Art of Living: Legendary Wines from the Cellar of Pierre Chan, which achieved a total sale of HK$116 million (US$15 million), far surpassing the pre-sale estimate of HK$88 million (US$11.4 million).
The top lot comprises 12 bottles of Romanée Conti 1971 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti sold for HK$2,375,000 (US$305,069).
Apart from fine wine, premium whiskies also invigorated Sotheby’s three-day sales by setting two auction records.
Jonny Fowle, Sotheby’s Spirits Specialist, observed an increasing fondness towards whisky, especially at the higher end of the market for premium whiskies direct from a distillery. “Almost one third of the buyers in our spirits sale were new to Sotheby’s, a reflection of how whisky collecting is attracting an ever broader range of collectors,” he said.
The only complete collection of the Dalmore Decades spanning 1951 to 2000 represented the highest value for a whisky lot sold at Sotheby’s this year and the most valuable whisky lot ever sold by Sotheby’s in Asia. The distinct set of six vintage Single Malts direct from the distillery was sold for HK$8.75 million (US$1.1 million).
The series also set an auction record for selling a bottle of the world’s oldest Single Malt whisky, Decanter #1 of the Gordon & Macphail Generations 80-Years-Old, sold for HK$1.5 million (US$193,000) to a European private collector new to Sotheby’s.
Jamie Ritchie, Worldwide Head of Sotheby’s Wine, said Sotheby’s three-day sales have demonstrated the globally persistent heavy demand for the greatest and rarest wines and spirits, “While Asian buyers continue to be dominant, there is also robust competition from the United States and Europe.”
Paul Wong, Head of Sotheby’s Wine & Spirits Auction, Asia, pointed out other emerging buyer groups in Asia, “While we always expect to see the majority of bids coming from Greater China, we are continuing to see growing interest from collectors in Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam.”