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Naples auction down on 2007

The Naples Winter Wine Festival auction raised $14m (£7m) this weekend – the second highest sum in its eight-year history.

Falling short of 2007’s $15.6m (£7.8m) record, the auction also failed for the first time to surpass the previous year’s total. It continues to outrank Auction Napa Valley as a US charity fund-raiser.

Naples, in southwestern Florida, is one of America’s wealthiest communities. However, the money raised at the auction goes to childrens’ charities in the wider county, in which areas of poverty persist.

The auction is part of the $7,500-a-couple festival, a glamorous event that brings in top American chefs. Participants sat under a huge tent at colorful tables where they were given noisemakers and rivers of sparkling and still wines, fuelling the bidding.

The 73 lots contained blue-chip wines and deluxe commodities. The highest sum raised was $1m (£0.5m) for a lot donated by California producers Shari and Garen Staglin, that included one six-litre bottle of each of their three wines, Academy Awards tickets and dinners.

Thirty 1.5l Shafer Hillside Select cabernets (1994-2003) and a dinner at the famed French Laundry restaurant went for $240,000 (£120,800).

Smith-Haut-Lafitte in Bordeaux contributed one 1.5l bottles each of its 2000 red and white wines, two nights in their spa, Les Sources de Caudalie, and other gifts. The lot raised $120,000 (£60,400).

Written by Howard G Goldberg in New York

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