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NY auction house debuts with Lafite double magnums, top Burgundy

Wally's Auctions will next month add its name to New York's crowded autumn auction scene by selling a selection of lavish wines valued at around US$3m.

To up the glamour factor, Wally’s inaugural auction on 13 November will take place at the Whitney Museum of American Art, where bidders will dine in the downstairs café restaurant on food prepared by a ‘world class chef’, as yet unnamed.

The $3m worth of fine bottles on offer includes hot sellers from Burgundy and Champagne, such as the rare 1982 Dom Perignon Oenotheque and six bottles of 1993 Henri Jayer Cros Parantoux. In July, a six-bottle lot of the same Jayer wine sold at a Sotheby’s London sale for more than $57,000.

Other top items among the 600 lots are a collection of 2010 Grands Crus reds from Domaine de la Romanee-Conti in original wooden cases, estimated at $85,000 to $130,000.

Double magnums of Chateau Lafite-Rothschild from the ‘60s and ‘70s, as well as California classics like 1974 Heitz Martha’s Vineyard, are among the other high-ticket items lurking in the catalogue, which will go live on 21 October, according to Wally’s Auctions president and chief executive officer, Michael Jessen.

‘New York is the best market to be in right now,’ Jessen told decanter.com. Three sales last month were highly successful, especially a White Plains, New York-based Zachys auction at Smith & Wollensky, where eight bottles of 1947 L’Evangile fetched $245,000 versus a top estimate of just $20,000.

‘I’ve noticed, especially over the past year, that New York seems to have a broader buying base that includes emerging markets like Brazil and Mexico that are cut off from Hong Kong,’ said Jessen. ‘And New York has more and more American buyers bidding.’

The Wally’s buyer’s premium will be a ‘modest’ 20%, lower than the average at other New York auction houses.

Wally’s Auctions is an arm of West Los Angeles retailer Wally’s Wine & Spirits. In June, founder Steve Wallace sold the firm to Guess Jeans co-founders Maurice, Paul, and Armand Marciano, and business partner Christian Navarro.

The group’s auction team is plucked from Zachys, where Jessen spent a decade. Many of the wines come from Wally’s long-time clients.

Because of New York regulations, the new auction house is partnering with local shop Crush Wines & Spirits.

Written by Elin McCoy

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