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- 17 January 2009-
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Chateau Latour Fetches Record
HK$1.32 Million at Hong Kong Sale
A Bloomberg.net resource | Posted: November 30 ,2008

A 12-bottle lot of 1961 Chateau Latour, prized for its complexity and graceful aging, sold for a record HK$1.32 million ($170,320) at Christie's International first wine auction in Hong Kong in seven years, as the company's billionaire owner Francois Pinault watched from the front row.

The dozen bottles went for double a presale estimate of up to HK$650,000 and were bought by an Asian private collector Christie's didn't identify in the sale on Nov. 29. Another two lots of Latour 1961, a wine that "seems to get richer, holding onto its succulence and fat," according to Christie's catalog, were the second- and third-most expensive items at the auction. Of the 246 lots offered, 231 sold for a combined HK$31.5 million.

Pinault watched as his female companion, with a tousled blonde bob, scribbled notes in the catalog. Midway through the auction, Pinault rose quietly, buttoned his black suit, glanced at a trio of Japanese bidders in the back rows, and left.

"I'm surprised by the prices at this auction," said George Tong, a Hong Kong-based wine collector who runs his family's toy- trading business. "Many lots went for way above their estimates."

Wine prices are holding up at Hong Kong auctions, weathering the global credit crisis and stock-market rout better than art. About 90 percent of lots offered at Acker Merrall & Condit's Nov. 15 sale found buyers, including a lot of 12 wooden cases of DRC Romanee Conti from 1990 to 2001, which fetched HK$2.1 million.

"There's no such thing as a safe bet in this investment environment," said Taiwanese author and wine collector Betty Wu, at the Acker sale. "You might as well just buy what you enjoy."

Wine-Trading Center

Hong Kong's government is seeking to make the city Asia's wine-trading center. In February, the government abolished duties on the beverage, lowering the costs of trading and storing bottles in Hong Kong to encourage more Asian collectors to move their wines from current trading centers like London.

At the Christie's sale, less than half the 150-seat salesroom filled, with bids mostly from the phones and a few on- site Asian buyers. Buyers are charged a 20 percent commission.


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For enquires and assistance, kindly contact Brenda, Iris, Ludovic

Tel: (65) 6354 1238 Fax: (65) 6258 4379