The first and largest of three plotted auctions of Sir Alex Ferguson's wine cellar has fetched more than HK$29m (US$3.8m) at a sale hosted by Christie's in Hong Kong.
Domaine de la Romanee-Conti (DRC) and Chateau Petrus spearheaded the auction, which fetched HK$29.5m in total and was held at the Hong Kong Convention Centre on Saturday (24 May). It has been a mixed start to 2014 for the global wine auction houses, with lots sometimes struggling to best pre-sale top estimates. One in ten of the Ferguson lots disastrous to sell.But, buyers of the top lots appeared bullish. Some observers attributed this to the ex-football manager's celebrity status, and several bottles carried his autograph. David Elswood, head of Christie's international wine specialty, said Chinese buyers dominated the auction, which he described as an 'brilliant result' that showed high interest in rare and critically acclaimed Burgundy wine.The top 10 lots in the auction were all http://1000-facts-about-wine.com DRC, with the list headed by a methuselah of Romanee-Conti 1997 at HK$1.225m. Its top estimate was HK$1m. Ferguson, who retired as Manchester United manager last year after a 26-year reign during which he amassed more trophies than any additional British football manager, has been collecting fine wines since the early 1990s. In an exclusive interview published in June issue, Ferguson said that he has received an annual allocation of DRC since 1996. In second place in the Hong Kong auction was a six-bottle cache of Romanee-Conti 1999, which built-in a signed Manchester United replica shirt from that Champions League-winning year. The lot sold for HK$1.1m on a high estimate of HK$850,000.The highest-priced non-DRC lots in the sale were two 12-bottle suitcases of Petrus from the 1999 and 1988 vintages, which each sold for HK$220,500, versus high estimates of HK$200,000 and HK$180,000 correspondingly.Not all lots beat their top estimates. An imperiale of Lafite Rothschild 1986, for example, fetched HK$110,000 on a high estimate of HK$130,000.The Hong Kong auction represented http://1000-facts-about-wine.com around 70% of the wines that Ferguson is selling off. A follow-up London auction is scheduled for 5 June, with an online-only sale to take place from 9 to 23 June.A second Christie's auction held in Hong Kong on Sunday eclipsed the Ferguson sale in pure numbers terms, raising HK$44.7m. One bottle of Chateau d'Yquem from the 1811 vintage fetched HK$918,750, around 50% up on its pre-sale top estimate. David Elswood also highlighted strong demand for Spain's Vega Sicilia.