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The Macallan shines as Sotheby’s largest ever spirits auction smashes target

Sotheby’s smashed its targets by generating $2,542,625 in sales when it held its largest ever spirits auction in New York on Tuesday.

The auction featured more than 1,000 lots made up exclusively of Scotch whisky. The company gave a combined estimate in the region of $1.5m in the build-up to the event, so it exceeded expectations by more than 66%.

The top three lots went to The Macallan, whose enduring popularity shows no signs of waning any time soon.

The most expensive lot was The Macallan Millennium Decanter 50 Year Old from 1949, which sold for $40,000.

A case of six bottles of Macallan 30 Year Old in their original wooden casks also fetched $35,000, beating an estimate of $13,000 to $22,000 at the competitive auction. A bottle of The Macallan Fine & Rare 50 Year Old from 1952 sold for $32,500 to round out the top three.

In total, 95% of the lots sold, and 58% achieved prices that exceeded their high estimates. The company revealed that 42% of the buyers were new to Sotheby’s, while just over 40% of the bidders were under 40 years of age.

The auction was held in New York, but Sotheby’s said winning bidders were split fairly evenly between North America, Asia and Europe.

Jonny Fowle, head of whisky and spirits for Sotheby’s, said: ‘Recent years have seen Sotheby’s set auction records for the most valuable whisky bottle and whisky collection of all time, so it seemed only fitting that we staged our largest ever spirits auction by volume.’

Spirits sales increased by 42% for Sotheby’s last year, with fine and rare Scotch whisky driving the growth.

The Hollywood Collection, which was fortuitously acquired by a Californian entrepreneur in the depths of the 2008 financial crisis, dominated this week’s auction.

A US whisky broker sent a large container to Los Angeles as the subprime mortgage crisis was starting to unfold. It contained a wealth of rare bottles, which were intended for A-list actors, directors and producers.

However, the container found itself unopened due to the rapidly deteriorating financial climate, as markets went into meltdown mode. The Hollywood Collection consignor heard about it, so he immediately drove to LA and snapped it up.

He stored the bottles in his cellar for 14 years. He and his friends enjoyed many of them, but he finally decided to put the rest up for auction this week.

The auction also featured Scotch whisky from The Three Continents Collection, which includes 5,000 bottles of Scotch, American and Japanese whiskies. The bottles have been distributed over multiple auctions, and they have already racked up more than $2m.


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