Auction season starts in New York

  • Friday 14 September 2001

As Zachys-Christie's raised the curtain on its new auction season in Manhattan on 7 September, the troubled economy wielded the gavel.

The house's emphasis on large-format Bordeaux bottles raised a symbolic question: how large a format for acquisitions and revenues would brick-and-mortar auctions be this year and early next? Intimations of the answer came fast amid transparently conservative bidding.

Bottles that the house had highlighted indicated the wind's direction. The first lot, a Marie-Jeanne (the equivalent of three bottles) of 1952 Pichon-Lalande, carrying a high estimate of US$1,200 (£800), sold for US$1,265 (£843). A double magnum of 1975 La-Mission-Haut Brion, with a US$1,800 (£1,200) high estimate, went for US$2,300 (£1,533).

Six magnums of 1985 Le Pin sold for US$8,625 (£5,750), just above their US$7,500 (£5,000) low estimate. The immediately preceding lot, one double magnum of the same wine, carried a low estimate of US$2,800 (£1,867) but went unbought. Still in Bordeaux, a half dozen magnums of 1982 Margaux exceeded the US$4,800 (£3,200) low estimate with a hammer price of US$5,520 (£3,680).

Among the relatively few Burgundy consignments, six regular bottles of 1995 Richebourg from Leroy, with a high estimate of US$3,500 (£2,333), was taken at US$4,025 (£2,683). A case of Latour's 1996 Corton-Charlemagne was taken home for US$1,380, just under its US$1,400 (£933) low estimate (£920).

Twelve bottles of Domaine Leflaive's 1996 Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet, sold just above their low estimate for US$2,875 (£1,917) but a case of 1995 Chateau Rayas Chateauneuf-du-Pape found a buyer willing to pay US$4,600 (£3,067), exceeding the upper estimate.

The auction, held at Christie's Rockefeller Plaza headquarters, was an extension of the relatively small-scale sales previously held by Christie's East, which is being closed. Only 587 lots were offered, and the revenues came to $709, 216 (£472,811).

picture courtesy of Zachys-Christie's

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