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Boston auction house sets record for DRC, Screaming Eagle

Boston-based auctioneer Skinner – a newcomer to wine – has set world records for a Domaine de la Romanée Conti, Screaming Eagle and Harlan Estate.

At its fine wine sale on 19 September, Skinner sold a three-bottle lot of Domaine de la Romanée Conti, Romanée Conti 1911 for US$20,250 per bottle (£11,516) – over triple the estimate.

The previous record for the 1911 was set by Acker Merrall & Condit, which sold a bottle for US$19,120 (£10,885) in October 2006.

Christies still holds the record for DRC: a single bottle of the 1945 was sold in Geneva in May 2007 for SF66,700 (£34,286), the house’s highest price for a single bottle from the Domaine, and a world record.

Two bottles of Screaming Eagle 2005 went for US$2,430 apiece (£1,382 ); the previous record of US$1936 per bottle, also sold by Acker Merrall, stood for less than two weeks.

Three bottles of Harlan Estate 1993 went for US$810 a bottle (£461), breaking Sothebys’ 2008 record of US$655 (£373) set in April 2008.

Skinner said bidding was fierce, despite the financial climate.

‘The people who like these incredibly rare wines know how to find them,’ Marie Keep, director of fine wines, told decanter.com.

‘When they see something they’re interested in, they go for it – regardless of the prevailing financial atmosphere.’

Other auction houses also have seen their wine sales continue to soar.

Serena Sutcliffe MW, head of Sotheby’s international wine department said, ‘It’s amazing – in London in September alone, we sold £2.6m worth of wine. It’s a tricky time for all of us, but if the wine you’re selling is really good, there are buyers.’

‘Perhaps people are drinking for comfort, or maybe they’d rather spend money on a great piece of art, or a wonderful wine, than give it to some hedge fund guy and see it disappear.’

While Skinner’s total of $526,617.45 (£299,403) for just under 300 lots may be modest compared with sales at more established houses, Keep attributes the initial success to a combination of novelty and pent-up demand.

‘We have clients all over the world, but the local market – New England and surrounding states – has been underserved for decades.

‘There’s a lot of excellent wine around here that has been lying in cellars, undisturbed – and both buyers and sellers seem pleased that now, they don’t necessarily have to go to New York.’

Written by Maggie Rosen

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