The former owner of New York restaurant Cru plans to sell a collection of almost 100,000 bottles of wine valued at $15 million, including choice Burgundies and more than 750 cases of Chablis.
Wally’s Auctions will handle the sale for Roy Welland, who began collecting wine in the 1980s and now plans to part with French grand cru vintages as well as champagnes and Italian wines, according to Michael Jessen, chief executive officer of the business.
“I’m going to be sad to see a lot of it go,” Welland, 51, said in a phone interview. “I didn’t so much buy wine as an investment.”
The sale will be conducted through live and online auctions as well as retail offerings, with the first event in New York in September and another probably in Los Angeles later in the year, Jessen said.
Wally’s Wine & Spirits, a Los Angeles store founded in 1968, set up a New York-based auction business last year, holding its first sale at the Whitney Museum of American Art in November. So far it has brought in $7.9 million in three live and two internet sales, most recently a New York auction last week that fetched $2.8 million.
The collection includes 2,000 cases of grand cru Burgundy, from producers such as Domaine Joseph Drouhin, Domaine Georges Roumier and Domaine Armand Rousseau, as well as magnums of Chambertin Dujac 2005, according to an e-mail from Wally’s.
The market “has generally been as strong as I can remember,” Jessen said in a phone interview from New York. “The buying base seems more spread out than it has been. There’s a lot of demand.”
The Welland wines will give “quite a boost” to Wally’s in its plans to build the auction business, Jessen said.
“We want to focus on great auctions, great property,” Jessen said. “A year from now we expect the level of activity to be much more significant.”
Top lots at its June 5 sale included three bottles of Romanee-Conti 2010 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, which fetched $33,600, and two lots of assorted DRC wines, one comprising eight bottles of the 2009 vintage and the other nine bottles from 2010, each sold for $26,400.
Cru, which was on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, is closed, and Welland is now the owner of Cerbaie Winery in Tuscany.