Major New York retailer Zachys announced yesterday it was returning to Manhattan's wine-auction scene.

Its newly created sales division, Zachys Wine Auctions, plans to hold all its sales at Daniel, a four-star restaurant near Park Avenue that is a celebrity bastion.

The first sale is planned for October 25-26 and the second for December 6-7. Five more are planned in 2003.

Zachys – based in Scarsdale – and Christie’s were partners from 1995 to December last year, when their relationship broke up. In that period, Manhattan surpassed London as the world’s most significant auction centre of rare and fine wines, in part due to Zachys-Christie’s muscle.

Last year, Zachys-Christie’s auctions in New York and Los Angeles produced $14,150,217 (€15,500,000) in revenue. The relationship ended with a cumulative gross of $120,805,327 (€132,500,000)

Zachys president Jeff Zacharia said its auctioneers would be Ursula J Hermacinski, who helped found Zachys-Christie’s auctions, and Fritz Hatton, who directed Christie’s wine department from 1996 to 1998.

Zachys’s re-entry is likely to ratchet up the pressure in a highly competitive wine-auction milieu. Its local competitors will be Christie’s and its new partner the New York Wine Warehouse, Sotheby’s and its associate Aulden Cellars, Acker Merrall & Condit, a West Side merchant; and Morrell & Company, which runs a Midtown shop and a wine bar.

Using a sliding scale, Zachys will give rebates to certain consignors, a rarity at wine auctions. The fee scale begins with sellers paying 15% of the hammer price for purchases up to $49,999, and ends with a 1% rebate for sales from $1.5 million to $1,999,999 and a 3% rebate for sales above $2 million. The buyer’s fee will be 16% of the hammer price.

Zachys, in suburban Westchester County, serves wealthy clients, many of whom patronise Daniel Boulud’s restaurant, Daniel.

‘Daniel offers a perfect environment to represent the finest wines in the world, while bringing theatre and excitement back to live wine auctions,’ Jeff Zacharia said. Tastings and pre- and post-auction dinners will be held there.

Written by Howard G Goldberg in New York10 May 2002