Will HK Overtake NYC as the Centre for Wine Auctions?

Within two years of Hong Kong eliminating wine duty, Hong Kong surpassed London to become the second largest wine auction centre in the world. Recent successful, record-achieving auctions held in Hong Kong this past weekend by Christie’s and Acker Merrall & Condit shows that Hong Kong may soon overtake New York City to become the largest wine auction market in the world. 


Jaws dropped and eyebrows raised when the majority of the lots sold 30 percent or more above the highest estimate. Spirits were high in the salesroom and competition fierce as the largst ever wine auction in Asia and second largest wine auction in the world reached HK$152 million/ US$14.5 million over the weekend. The Acker Merrall & Condit’s auction held at the Island Shangri-La in Hong Kong on the 28th and 29th of May had a total of 1,820 lots and more than 19,000 bottles from a single cellar, owned by entrepreneur Eric Greenberg. Even in the midst of email chains warning Asian buyers about the authenticity of Greenberg’s wines, bidders seemed not to mind taking the risk. 


Record breaking sales included 12 bottles of 1959 Richebourg by Henri Jayer sold for HK$1,659,200/US$212,900 and a Superlot of 360 bottles (1978-2007) from the Chateau Margaux Private Cellar sold for HK$1,464,000/US$187,800.


Christie’s also had a successful auction achieving HK$1,040,563/US$133,493 for their ‘Liquid Gold’ Chateau d’Yquem Collection. Stephen Williams, Managing Director of The Antique Wine Company told Christie’s, “To witness the current explosion of interest from the Chinese in fine wine is one of the most remarkable experiences of my 25 year career in the fine wine business.”


The success of recent auctions and a record attendance at VInexpo Asia-Pacific last week shows that the Asian wine market is growing exponentially, even surprising local observers. Stay tuned to find out if Hong Kong overtakes New York in wine auction sales by the end of this year. 


Photos provided by Christie’s.