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New US player in wine auctions

Competition among US wine auction houses will sharpen this autumn with a new entry in the field.

Skinner Inc., a full-service auction house with two locations in Massachusetts, will hold its inaugural wine sale on 14 September. It plans at least two sales a year at its Boston headquarters.

Marie Keep, managing director and director of fine wines, said, ‘There is no other auction house selling wine in Massachusetts.’ Her goal is ‘to capture the Northeast market,’ which ‘is currently making the trip south to New York City’ or remaining ‘undisturbed for lack of local outlet.’

But with electronic technology turning once-regional into national and international sales, Skinner has broader ambitions.

‘We’re not limiting the scope locally but have already found clients as far flung as the South and Midwest,’ Keep added.

The first auction, estimated to fetch around US$260,000 (£128,000), will offer about 200 lots.

The catalogue will contain 24 bottles of Château Lafite-Rothschild 2000 (high estimate US$9,000), three bottles of Coche-Dury Corton-Charlemagne 1996 (US$5,750) and two bottles of Château d’Yquem 1967 (US$2,800).

It will offer over 350 bottles from the private cellars of the proprietors of Maison Robert, a fine dining restaurant that closed in 2004, after 30 years in business.

Skinner’s logistical partner is the Lower Falls Wine Company, a retailer in the Boston suburb of Newton. Keep and Karen Keane, chief executive officer of Skinner, are the auctioneers. A 19.5% buyer’s premium will be charged. Massachusetts does not levy a sales tax on wine.

Written by Howard G Goldberg in New York

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