The world record for the most expensive bottle of wine sold at auction was smashed twice on Saturday when two bottles of 1945 Romanée Conti fetched US$558,000 and US$496,000 respectively.

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1945 Romanée Conti sets new record at wine auction

The bottles – two of only 600 produced by Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (DRC) in 1945, after which the celebrated vineyard was uprooted – were part of a Sotheby’s sale in New York of DRC wines from the personal cellar of Robert Drouhin, patriarch of Maison Joseph Drouhin.

The two bottles had been expected to sell for US$22,000-32,000 each (excluding buyer’s premium), but confounded expectations by easily surpassing the previous auction record, set more than a decade ago.

That mark was set when a jeroboam (equivalent to six standard bottles) of Château Mouton Rothschild 1945 was sold, also by Sotheby’s in New York, in February 2007.

In all, the 100-lot auction of DRC wines from Drouhin’s cellar, spanning vintages from 1937 to 1964, fetched US$7.3m, more than five times its high estimate.

The wines were acquired direct from DRC by Robert Drouhin and his father, Maurice, mainly at the time when Drouhin was exclusive DRC distributor for France and Belgium.


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Following the Drouhin sale, a bottle of 1926 Macallan 60-year-old single malt whisky, with a label designed by famed pop artist Sir Peter Blake, was auctioned by Sotheby’s for US$843,200.

That fell short of the world record for a bottle of whisky – set earlier this month when a similar Macallan 60-year-old, with a label designed by Italian artist Valerio Adami, was auctioned by Bonhams in Edinburgh for £848,750 (US$1.1m).

However, Saturday’s sale set a new record as the highest price in Sotheby’s history for a single bottle of spirits, as well as the top auction price for any spirit in North America.

Only 40 bottles of Macallan 1926 were released, with 12 each featuring labels designed by Blake and Adami. Another unique bottle, hand-painted by Irish artist Michael Dillon, will be auctioned by Christie’s in London next month.

‘The new world record established in today’s sale is further proof that the demand for wine and spirits of exceptional quality is at an all-time high, and that global collectors are willing to go the extra mile to acquire the rarest bottles of any kind,’ said Jamie Ritchie, worldwide head of Sotheby’s Wine.