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Lafite in Hong Kong: The price of provenance

After yesterday's drama of sky high prices at the Sotheby's Hong Kong auction, today's developments began to add some context to the numbers.

lafite rothschild

Firstly, a reminder of how things looked overnight. This table shows the difference between recent trade pricing [Source: Lix-ex] for a case of Lafite, and the price it reached at Sotheby's Hong Kong auction on day 1.

Size Vintage Recent trade price [£] HK day 1 price [£] Difference [£] Difference [%]
12x75cl 2009 10,950 43,124 32,174 294%
12x75cl 2008 10,660 21,562 10,902 102%
12x75cl 2007 5,950 17,642 11,692 197%
12x75cl 2006 6,900 17,642 10,742 156%
12x75cl 2005 10,182 23,522 13,340 131%
12x75cl 2004 6,699 19,602 12,903 193%
12x75cl 2003 11,200 31,363 20,163 180%
12x75cl 2002 6,650 17,642 10,992 165%
12x75cl 2001 7,045 11,761 4,716 67%
12x75cl 2000 18,900 45,085 26,185 139%
12x75cl 1999 7,550 15,682 8,132 108%
12x75cl 1998 7,850 17,942 10,092 129%
12x75cl 1996 12,250 31,363 19,113 156%
12x75cl 1995 7,573 19,602 12,029 159%
12x75cl 1994 7,112 11,761 4,649 65%
12x75cl 1990 8,195 10,095 1,900 23%
12x75cl 1982 37,500 84,289 46,789 125%

But following a second auction of a set of virtually identical vintages, less than twelve hours after the close of day one, the record prices start to drop away.

Indeed, if you then compare day two's prices against the same recent trade pricings as the above table, the story is generally much more in keeping with what we had originally expected from Hong Kong.

That is to say significant increases, but with the major shifts coming in standout vintages [i.e. 2005 & 1996 - which brings them further into line with the excellent 2000]

Size Vintage Recent trade price [£] HK day 2 price [£] Difference [£] Difference [%]
12x75cl 2009 10,950 - - -
12x75cl 2008 10,660 - - -
12x75cl 2007 5,950 - - -
12x75cl 2006 6,900 8,821 1,921 28%
12x75cl 2005 10,182 23,522 13,340 131%
12x75cl 2004 6,699 11,761 5,062 76%
12x75cl 2003 11,200 17,642 6,442 58%
12x75cl 2002 6,650 9,801 3,151 47%
12x75cl 2001 7,045 9,801 2,756 39%
12x75cl 2000 18,900 29,403 10,503 56%
12x75cl 1999 7,550 11,761 4,211 56%
12x75cl 1998 7,850 11,761 3,911 50%
12x75cl 1996 12,250 25,482 13,232 108%
12x75cl 1995 7,573 13,721 6,148 81%
12x75cl 1994 7,112 - - -
12x75cl 1990 8,195 15,681 7,486 91%
12x75cl 1982 37,500 84,289 - -

So why the sudden reality check? Where had the frenzied buyers disappeared to?

Well, the major difference between the two sales was the provenance of the stock.

Day one was directly from Lafite's own cellars, and we're often reminded of the importance of status, history and provenance in Chinese culture. Provenance is as much about the people that owned the stock, as it is the storage conditions.

Day two's stock, albeit potentially just as well stored and looked after, was from the private collection of South Korean company SK Networks and had changed hands at least once - common on the market, but being sold straight after virgin-esque Pauillac stock was always going to be be tough.

The final table below shows the difference in prices between the two days, comparing like for like, with the exception being the day one's stock was directly from Lafite. From this, we start to get an idea of the influence of provenance on price in Hong Kong auctions.

Taking out the anomalous 1990 [a separate analysis for another day], the ex-cellar Lafite stock performed 17-55% better than its private collection equivalent.

Size Vintage HK day 1 price [£] HK day 2 price [£] Difference [£] Difference [%]
12x75cl 2009 43,124 - - -
12x75cl 2008 21,562 - - -
12x75cl 2007 17,642 - - -
12x75cl 2006 17,642 8,821 -8,821 -50%
12x75cl 2005 23,522 23,522 0 0%
12x75cl 2004 19,602 11,761 -7,841 -40%
12x75cl 2003 31,363 17,642 -13,721 -44%
12x75cl 2002 17,642 9,801 -7,841 -44%
12x75cl 2001 11,761 9,801 -1,960 -17%
12x75cl 2000 45,085 29,403 -15,682 -35%
12x75cl 1999 15,682 11,761 -3,921 -25%
12x75cl 1998 17,942 11,761 -6,181 -34%
12x75cl 1996 31,363 25,482 -5,881 -19%
12x75cl 1995 19,602 13,721 -5,881 -30%
12x75cl 1994 11,761 - - -
12x75cl 1990 10,095 15,681 5,586 55%
12x75cl 1982 84,289 84,289 - -

Some big numbers still, but there does seem to be some method behind the madness, and the first signs of calculated restraint. If you listen carefully, you can almost hear the market's sigh of relief.

The Editors' blog

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