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Bill Koch wine cellar auction fetches $22m

Sotheby's claims to have set 'a new benchmark' for wine auctions after its sale from billionaire collector Bill Koch's cellar hit nearly $22m.

All 2,730 lots were sold in the New York auction, named Wines from the Cellar of William I Koch, which lasted for 27 hours over three days.

Total sales hit $21.9m for the Bill Koch auction; a sale of wines amassed over many years by one of America’s most high-profile wine collectors – not least for his active role in exposing fine wine counterfeiters attempting to damage the industry.

The auction easily out-stripped its pre-sale high estimate of just over $15m, making it the most expensive wine collection ever sold at auction.

Buyers from 23 different countries submitted more than 20,000 bids, with 740 people taking part in the sale, Sotheby’s said.

Highlights included 10 bottles of Château Mouton-Rothschild 1945, estimated to fetch $80,000-120,000, which eventually sold for $343,000.

Other lots from Burgundy big names Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (DRC) and Henri Jayer sold for well over double their low estimates, including a 12-bottle case of DRC Montrachet 1978, which sold for $171,500 (high estimate: $110,000).

Koch, a leading wine collector and crusader against fine wine fraud, said of the sale: ‘Collecting and enjoying wine has been one of the great joys and loves of my life. It is very gratifying to see so many people from around the world that share my passion.’

‘The record-setting $21.9m sale of wines from the Cellar of William I Koch has redefined the wine auction landscape,’ added Jamie Ritchie, CEO and president, Sotheby’s Wine, Asia and Americas.

‘Buyers from all corners of the world used every available bidding method to buy every single one of 20,000 bottles offered in a three-day sale that lasted 27 hours. This sale sets a new benchmark for the industry.’

Bill Koch has spent many years buying the best wines in the world. While giving evidence for the prosecution during the trial of convicted wine fraudster Rudy Kurniawan, Koch told jurors in a New York court:

‘I’ve tried to have every year of, say, Château Lafite, which I believe I have about 150 years or so; I collect Mouton, which I have about 120; Latour, which I have about 100 years; and then Pétrus, [of] which I have about 90 years.’

Extra reporting from Kurniawan trial by Chris Mercer.

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