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Major new Chicago auction house opens

A major new auction house went into business in Chicago today.

In one of 2004’s key developments in America’s hotly competitive wine-auction world, next January Hart Davis Hart will return big auctions to Chicago for the first time since 2001.

Hart Davis Hart will replace John Hart Fine Wine, a no-storefront retailer that has sold fine and rare wines, including cellars, by phone and Internet since 1993. Its 2003 sales were US$5m to US$7m, John Hart said.

Hart Davis Hart’s sole competitor in Chicago and the entire Midwest is a small auction house called Edward Roberts International.

The new partners of John Hart are Paul Hart (no relation) and Michael Davis, two of America’s most experienced wine auction experts.

Davis headed Christie’s wine department, based in Chicago. When Christie’s ended its Chicago auctions in 1993, Davis and Paul Hart of Christie’s formed Davis & Company, a Chicago auction firm, which quickly acquired international status.

After Sotheby’s bought Davis & Company in 1998, Davis and Paul Hart became co-directors of Sotheby’s North American wine department.

In 2002, Sotheby’s wine auctions shifted to Manhattan, where both men were auctioneers; after their contracts expired in autumn 2003, they joined John Hart’s firm.

Hart Davis Hart plans an auction on 29 January, one next spring and two next fall.

Written by Howard G Goldberg in New York

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