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Elysee Palace wine sale fetches nearly triple estimate

The public auction of Eylsee Palace wines saw frenzied bidding over two sessions, raising €718,000 (including auction charges) – a sizeable increase on the estimated €250,000.

Selling the family silver?…Elysee Palace wines

The auction, which took place at the Hôtel Drouot in Paris, saw the sale of 171 lots in an evening sale beginning at 7.30pm on Thursday 30, then a further 380 lots the following afternoon of Friday 31, so 552 in total, accounting for 1200 bottles of wine from the French government cellars.

The highest prices were seen for a Pétrus 1990 for €7625 (including charges) against an estimate of €2500. An Angelus 1961, estimated at €220, sold for €1100, while a Latour 1982, estimated at €2200 sold for €4625. ‘The Elysée Palace effect,’ as the spokesperson for the Drouot auction house confirmed to Decanter.com.

As expected the sale, which was overseen by auctioneer Ghislaine Kapandji, attracted large numbers of Asian buyers, as well as those from the US, Europe and France itself.

Fan Dongxing, an importer from Shanghai, travelled to France for the auction and bought large amounts of Cognac, as well as the Pétrus. ‘The Chinese like French wine,’ he told assembled media at press conference held after the sale on Thursday night, ‘and it is a great honour that these wines came from the Elysée cellar.’ He added that he would be selling them on to professionals back in China.

All bottles had labels stating they came from Elysée Palace cellar with the date of sale. The wines themselves were not present in the room, but displayed on a screen during bidding. They had been available for viewing beforehand.

Not everyone was happy at the sale however. Oliver Poels, editor-in-chief of the Revue du Vin de France had called the wines ‘a national treasure’, and Michel-Jack Chasseuil, one of France’s most important private collectors with a cellar of over 40,000 wines, wrote an open letter to president Francois Hollande, denouncing the sale for selling off the best bottles of France to ‘overseas billionaires’ for a ‘few crumbs of bread’.

The proceeds from the sale are to be reinvested in buying more modest wines for the government cellar, and to fund social projects.

Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux

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