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Chinese buyer takes top lot in French prime minister’s cellar auction

A 27-year-old Chinese buyer took the top lot in an auction of the French prime minister's wine cellar that raised more than EUR170,000.

Hotel Matignon, the French prime minister’s official residence. Picture: Cornette de Saint-Cyr auction house

The auction of 1,400 bottles from the French prime minister’s official wine cellar, housed at Hotel Matignon, earned the government €173,488 (US$238,000), almost double the pre-auction estimate.

Twenty-seven-year-old Chinese man Lishen Huang picked up the most expensive bottle in the auction, a 2004 vintage Domaine de la Romanée Conti, for €10,500. It had been forecast to sell for half that amount.

Huang said that he was buying on behalf of a wine importer in China. He was reported by Agence France Presse as saying he also bought numerous lots at the French government’s Elysée Palace auction seven months earlier, although prices were lower this time around.

The auction took place at Maison Drouot auction house in Paris, with auctioneer Maison Cornette de Saint-Cyr. Each bottle came with a label depicting the Hotel Matignon building, and the date of the sale.

In contrast, the Elysée Palace auction made almost €720,000 for the same number of bottles, against a pre-sale estimate of €300,000.

Some French wine writers have criticised the auctions as a sale of France’s heritage.

Written by Jane Anson

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