Bloomberg News

Romanee-Conti Underpins Bonhams Sales as Lafite Declines

January 05, 2013

Romanee-Conti 1988 Burgundy

Bottles of Romanee-Conti 1988 Burgundy offered at auction by Bonhams in 2012. Demand for Burgundy helped compensate for lower Bordeaux prices. Source: Bonhams via Bloomberg.

Romanee-Conti Burgundy underpinned wine and spirit sales at Bonhams last year as prices for top Bordeaux wines including Chateau Lafite-Rothschild fell and total auction volumes declined.

Top lots sold in 2012 included a case of Romanee-Conti 1985, which fetched 92,000 pounds ($148,600) in London in July, and 12 bottles of Romanee-Conti 1988 Domaine de la Romanee- Conti, which sold for HK$1.05 million ($135,100) in Hong Kong in November, according to e-mailed data from Bonhams.

Bonhams wine and spirit sales fell 11 percent globally to $15.1 million last year from $17 million in 2011, after gains of 36 percent in 2011 and 41 percent in 2010. The drop, reflecting lower Bordeaux prices, came as the Liv-ex Fine Wine 50 Index fell 9.7 percent last year. Last year’s sales, which included whisky auctions, were still 21 percent above 2010 levels.

“We are in for a period of stable prices for some time, except for the very rare and unique,” Richard Harvey, Senior International Director of Bonhams wine department, said. “I believe that there will be significant selling of stock by some of the wine investment funds over the next three years. If large amounts come onto the market, that can only depress prices.”

The biggest decline came in the U.S., where sales fell 26 percent. Wine and spirits auctions in the U.K., the London-based house’s biggest market, dropped 7 percent while those in Hong Kong fell 1 percent. The U.K. accounted for 49 percent of wine and spirit sales, the U.S. 29 percent and Hong Kong the rest.

Top Bordeaux wines sold by Bonhams during 2012 included a case of Chateau Petrus 1982, which fetched 43,700 pounds in London last month, and 12 bottles of Lafite, which sold for HK$368,900 in May.

Following are principal wine auction results last year from Bonhams:

DECEMBER:

Dec. 8:          Bonhams, U.S.                  $1.19 million
Dec. 6:          Bonhams, London                $1.10 million

NOVEMBER:

Nov. 21:         Bonhams, Hong Kong             $1.81 million

OCTOBER:

Oct. 25:         Bonhams, London                $0.78 million

SEPTEMBER:

Sept. 13:        Bonhams, London                $0.97 million
Sept. 8:         Bonhams, U.S.                  $0.94 million

JULY:

July 5:          Bonhams, London                $1.24 million

MAY:

May 23:          Bonhams, Hong Kong             $1.42 million
May 19:          Bonhams, U.S.                  $0.74 million
May 10:          Bonhams, London                $0.90 million

MARCH:

March 29:        Bonhams, London                $0.68 million

FEBRUARY:

Feb. 25:         Bonhams, U.S.                  $1.06 million
Feb. 9:          Bonhams, London                $0.69 million

To contact the reporter on the story: Guy Collins in London on guycollins@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Beech at mbeech@bloomberg.net


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