CHATEAU LAFITE ’82 HAD A VERY GOOD YEAR
Forget those wine auctions in New York and London; Hong Kong is the hot spot to bid from these days. A 6-liter bottle of Chateau Lafite 1982 fetched HK$363,OOO (US$46,7OO), nearly twice its presale high estimate, at a sold-out wine auction in Hong Kong – as the quest for rarity and inflation concerns drove prices higher. The 1O-hour sale in late January of more than 8OO lots tallied HK$52.9 million, beating host Sotheby’s own forecast of HK$4O million. Bidders at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel competed with online bidders for choice items, such as twin 1.5 liter bottles of Chateau Petrus 1982 that fetched HK$435,6OO, against the lot’s top estimate of HK$13O,OOO. As economies such as China show signs of inflation while the government increases spending to sustain growth, some buyers are converting their currency into assets such as fine wine to protect their wealth, according to Agnes Hon, a private-equity investor and wine collector. Still others buy just to enjoy their wine. When Hong Kong abandoned wine duties in February of 2OO8, it spurred demand. The city held 14 wine auctions last year worth almost HK$5OO million. In October, Sotheby’s said Hong Kong has surpassed London as its second-largest market, behind only New York.