Fine wine auction pioneer David Elswood dies

Tributes have been paid to David Elswood, the popular ex-head of fine wine at Christie’s, who has died.

Auction house Christie’s said, ‘It is with great sadness that we learn of the passing of our longstanding and much admired colleague David Elswood.’

His career at Christie’s, spanning nearly 35 years, ran alongside a period of significant expansion for the global fine wine market.

Elswood was a major contributor to this growth and Christie’s described him as ‘pivotal in developing the international profile of Christie’s Wine Department over the last three decades’.

Ex-colleagues and those in the wider wine trade and media will also remember a man who was unfailingly generous with his time.

Elswood joined the Christie’s wine department in 1985 and became a director and auctioneer for the company in 1989.

He would go on to hold several roles, including deputy head of the department, head of European sales, head of the London wine department and international head of fine wine and principal auctioneer.

In 2017, he became a senior international consultant with the group.

From 2008, Elswood led the group’s expansion in Hong Kong alongside the rise in demand for fine wine in Asia. He also oversaw the annual Hospices de Beaune auctions, which Christie’s has organised since 2005.

There were several, notable one-off auctions, including the three sales of Sir Alex Ferguson’s wines in 2014; an event that Elswood helped to make a reality. He also handled the auction of wines from the UK government’s cellar.

Respect for Elswood among top wineries was shown by him receiving the rare double distinction of being appointed both as a Commandeur du Bontemps de Médoc at the 2003 ‘Fête de la Fleur’, held at Château Mouton Rothschild, and as a Chevalier du Tastevin at a Clos de Vougeot ceremony in Burgundy in the same year.

Elswood worked with Decanter on several occasions.

He led the annual, Christie’s-hosted auctions of Decanter World Wine Awards wines for the WaterAid charity. He also co-ran a Decanter-sponsored auction for the Royal Opera House Covent Garden Foundation in 2016.

Christie’s said, ‘He was a superb auctioneer, a caring colleague, inspiring leader, a great friend and a beloved member of the fine wine and auction community. He will be missed enormously by those who knew him and worked with him.’