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US/UK auction roundup

In a year in which auction revenues shot skyward, Acker Merrall & Condit reached the greatest heights.

With 2006 revenues totaling a record-breaking $60,253,690, small powerhouse Acker bested a far-larger Christie’s, which sought to lead the wine-auction world for a fifth straight year.

Acker’s 11 live sales generated $57,929,744, and its 12 monthly online auctions brought in $2,323,946. A hefty share of revenues came from a record-setting $24,685,593 October sale preceded by a huge $10,643,836 January sale, both supplied by the same unidentified West Coast collector.

Acker’s auction department is an arm of a wine shop on New York City’s West Side that dates to 1820 and claims to be America’s oldest.

In its best-ever year, Christie’s International Wine Department’s 44 sales in eight locations made $58,572,271, as against $42,158,972 in 2005.

In the UK and Europe, 33 Christie’s sales generated $30,670,814, up from last year’s $24,295,843. NYWines/Christie’s held 11 sales totaling $27,901,457, far transcending the previous $15,628,592.

Major developments for Christie’s Americas included its largest-ever single-owner sale, for $7,787,136; the introduction of evening sales; and its first online bidding for wine, with $320,000 worth sold through the house’s Live system.

Sotheby’s global sales total – the second-best in its history – was $37,380,538, generously beyond last year’s $29,141,728. (Sotheby’s top year was 1999, with $52,323,900 in sales.)

Of four successful sales of single-owner cellars, the biggest draw, the cellar of Russell H. Frye, brought $7,832,755 -the second highest total ever for Sotheby’s, behind the millennium sale (with Sherry-Lehmann), which fetched $14.4m in 1999, and ahead of 1997’s Andrew Lloyd Webber collection in London, which delivered $6.1m.

In New York, five Aulden Cellars/Sotheby’s auctions brought $20,409,590, beyond the $18,597,371 in 2005. In London, 11 sales totaled $16,958,573, as against $10,544,357 last year.

In Zachys’ fourth and best year in the auction business, its 10 auctions – seven in New York and three with Wally’s in Los Angeles – generated $34,697,566, up from last year’s $33,835,286. Its biggest-ever sale recorded $4,779,668, and it sold a healthy 96.81% of its lots.

Hart Davis Hart, in Chicago, raised $13,768,950 in six auctions, up from $9,503,414 in 2005, its first year. The top auction fetched $3,295,929.

Bonhams & Butterfields’ six auctions held in San Francisco and simulcast to Los Angeles generated $7,503,784, well above last year’s $5,592,253.

Morrell & Company’s three brick-and-mortar and one online auction brought in $4,299,281, as against $3,902,990 in 2005.

Bonhams in London generated $2,263,849 in six sales. It said that 2006 was ‘the biggest year of the current decade’ for its UK wine auctions.

Edward Roberts International, a small Chicago house, held four auctions that grossed $1,568,765, just above last year’s $1,563,322, said managing director Edward Robert Brooks.

Internet auctions’ rising influence was illustrated by the California-based WineBid.com, which specializes in them and reported $22. 5m, up from $20m.

All prices in US$

Written by Howard G Goldberg in New York

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