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US auctions, Christie’s triumphant

Driven by super-heated prices this year, American and European wine auctions sponsored by English-language houses realized at least US$333,209,438 in revenues this year, up from last year's US$242,803,251.

Christie’s international wine department soared above competitors’ earnings, reporting $71,647,944 in best-ever 2007 sales.

NYWines/Christie’s realized $13,650,641 in six New York sales plus $13,570,146 in four Los Angeles sales for a grand total of $27,220,787.

In Europe, Christie’s grossed $44,427,157 in 29 sales in London, Paris, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Geneva and Amsterdam. In 2006, in the UK and on the continent 33 sales generated $30,670,814, up from 2005’s $24,295,843.

Sotheby’s international wine department sold $49,287,329 worth of wine globally, significantly surpassing 2006’s $37,380,538 and 2005’s $29,141,728. (Sotheby’s best year was 1999, with $52,323,900 in sales.) This year, its UK revenues totaled $20,901,388 as against $16,958,573 last year.

Acker Merrall & Condit again dominated North America’s spectrum this year, with 12 regular and 12 internet auctions realizing $59,857,976. (Its Internet-only auctions grossed $3,768,714.) Last year’s total for both was $60,253,690. Acker’s top-earning auction this year grossed $15,563,359.

Zachys grossed $52,445,415 in 13 auctions – 10 in Manhattan, three in Los Angeles. It grossed more nationally than the more-established Sotheby’s did internationally, and it exceeded 2006, its best year, when it fetched $34,697,566.

Of Zachy’s 2007 earnings, $44,561,778 came from Manhattan and $7,883,637 from Los Angeles, where it co-sponsors sales with Wally’s.

Aulden Cellars/Sotheby’s edged out arch-rival NYWines/Christie’s in North America, with $28,385,941 in sales, well beyond Sotheby’s $20,409,590 tally in 2006.

In Chicago, fast-rising Hart Davis Hart, holding seven auctions, grossed $26,920,140 in its third year, up from its second-year total of $13,768,950 and first year total of $9,503,414. In 2007, the house sold 99.3% of all lots offered.

In San Francisco/Los Angeles, Bonhams & Butterfields’ simulcast sales yielded $7,312,574, nearly abreast of 2006’s $7,503,784.

Bonhams in London realized $3,206,952 as against $2,263,849 last year.

Morrell & Company realized $6,120,790 as against $4,299,281 in 2006.

Edward Roberts International, a Chicago boutique, brought in $1,733,917 from a total of 1,678 lots sold, said managing director Edward Robert Brooks; it averaged a 95% sell-through. Last year it reported $1,568,765.

In its wine auction debut, Skinner, a Boston house, sold 9% of 224 lots, grossing $290,460.

Internet auctions’ escalating attraction was illustrated by California-based WineBid.com, which specializes in them and tallied $26m, up from 2006’s $22.5m.

Written by Howard G Goldberg in New York

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