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Debut Wally’s auction in New York raises $2.68m

Just four months after being founded, Wally's Auctions has added to evidence that New York's wine auction scene remains buoyant in autumn 2013 after its inaugural sale fetched $2.68m.

Burgundy and vintage Champagne led the line for Wally’s, which held its first auction at the Whitney Museum of American Art in front of 200 people, plus online and phone bidders. Chef Wolfgang Puck was flown in to provide a five-course meal to guests.

Although the sales total was within Wally’s’ pre-sale guidance range of up to $3m, several lots beat their top price estimates.

The result lends weight to the pre-sale assertion of Wally’s Auction’s president and chief executive, Michael Jessen, that ‘New York is the best market to be in right now’.

The auction’s top lot was a 33-bottle, 2010 vintage Domaine de la Romanee Conti Grand Cru Collection, which sold for $132,000.

Wally’s also reported ‘feverish bidding’ on 21 lots of Domaine Fourrier, shipped direct from the estate’s cellars in Burgundy. The collection sold for a total $143,280, against a top estimate of $112,500, and included a nine-litre ‘salmanazar’ of 2009 vintage Griotte Chambertin Vieille Vigne Domaine Fourrier, which almost doubled its top price estimate, fetching $38,000.

Among the other high-performing lots were 12 bottles of 1969 vintage Dom Perignon Oenotheque, which sold for $36,000.

After the sale, Jessen re-emphasised Wally’s’ focus on wines with ‘impeccable provenance’. He said, ‘we aim to be the trusted purveyor of choice for fine wine’.

In the auction world more generally, traceability and provenance are issues that have gained even greater attention in the wake of the indictment of alleged wine fraudster Rudy Kurniawan in 2012. His trial begins in New York on 9 December.

Having only come together in July, Wally’s – a Los Angeles-based fine wine retailer – said Jessen and his team were helped in preparing the auction by its strong private client base. Wally’s next live auction is planned for February 2014, while online-only auctions will begin in January 2014, it said.

Written by Chris Mercer

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