Bloomberg News

Henry Tang Sells $6.2 Million of Burgundy in Hong Kong

March 18, 2013

Hong Kong's Former Chief Secretary Henry Tang

Henry Tang, Hong Kong's former chief secretary. Photographer: Jerome Favre/Bloomberg

Henry Tang, who lost a bid to become Hong Kong’s chief executive after the discovery of an illegal wine cellar at his house, sold HK$48 million ($6.2 million) from his collection.

The auction of more than 800 lots of Burgundy during the two-day Christie’s International (CHRS) Hong Kong wine auction beat a pre-sale estimate of HK$29 million. The top lot of six magnums of Romanee Conti Domaine de la Romanee Conti 1995 sold for HK$1.2 million, Christies said in a press release.

“What we brought to the market was a small portion of his Burgundy collection,” said Simon Tam, head of wine for China at Christie’s. “He said wine is a journey of discovery he spent over 30 years on.”

Tang, who, according to the book “Billionaire’s Vinegar,” attended a seven-day wine tasting marathon in Munich in 1998, has amassed one of Hong Kong’s most extensive collections. The city’s former chief secretary pushed for the dropping of wine import duties in 2008, helping to turn Hong Kong into the world’s largest rare and fine-wine auction market.

“This single-owned collection was comprised of 71 Burgundy producers, many of which were unsung heroes,” Christie’s said of the two-day auction that ended March 16.

Investor appetite in China that drove Bordeaux prices to record levels in mid-2011 before a price slump has now switched increasingly to rarer Burgundies.

Illegal Basement

Tang lost a bid to become the city’s chief executive last year amid a controversy over an illegal 2,200 square foot basement built in his home in the upmarket Kowloon Tong district. Apple Daily and the South China Morning Post said the basement contained a wine cellar, tasting room, a movie theater and gym.

Tang said his wife, Lisa Kuo Yu-chin, was responsible for the construction of the basement, and he hadn’t intervened as the couple had marital issues at the time.

His father is Tang Hsiang Chien, who was ranked the 40th richest person in Hong Kong in 2010 by Forbes Magazine.

A court case to try Kuo, in whose name the house was registered, scheduled for March 13 was postponed until April 22, the South China Morning Post reported.

(Frederik Balfour is a reporter-at-large for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)

Muse highlights include Jorg von Uthmann on art, Lewis Lapham on history and James S. Russell on Architecture.

To contact the reporter on this story: Frederik Balfour in Hong Kong at fbalfour@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net


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