Romanee-Conti Underpins Bonhams Sales as Lafite Declines

Romanee-Conti Burgundy underpinned wine and spirit sales at Bonhams last year as prices for top Bordeaux wines including Chateau Lafite-Rothschild fell and total auction volumes declined.

Top lots sold in 2012 included a case of Romanee-Conti 1985, which fetched 92,000 pounds ($148,600) in London in July, and 12 bottles of Romanee-Conti 1988 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, which sold for HK$1.05 million ($135,100) in Hong Kong in November, according to e-mailed data from Bonhams.

Bonhams wine and spirit sales fell 11 percent globally to $15.1 million last year from $17 million in 2011, after gains of 36 percent in 2011 and 41 percent in 2010. The drop, reflecting lower Bordeaux prices, came as the Liv-ex Fine Wine 50 Index fell 9.7 percent last year. Last year’s sales, which included whisky auctions, were still 21 percent above 2010 levels.

“We are in for a period of stable prices for some time, except for the very rare and unique,” Richard Harvey, Senior International Director of Bonhams wine department, said. “I believe that there will be significant selling of stock by some of the wine investment funds over the next three years. If large amounts come onto the market, that can only depress prices.”

The biggest decline came in the U.S., where sales fell 26 percent. Wine and spirits auctions in the U.K., the London-based house’s biggest market, dropped 7 percent while those in Hong Kong fell 1 percent. The U.K. accounted for 49 percent of wine and spirit sales, the U.S. 29 percent and Hong Kong the rest.

Top Bordeaux wines sold by Bonhams during 2012 included a case of Chateau Petrus 1982, which fetched 43,700 pounds in London last month, and 12 bottles of Lafite, which sold for HK$368,900 in May.

Following are principal wine auction results last year from Bonhams:


Dec. 8:          Bonhams, U.S.                  $1.19 million
Dec. 6:          Bonhams, London                $1.10 million


Nov. 21:         Bonhams, Hong Kong             $1.81 million


Oct. 25:         Bonhams, London                $0.78 million


Sept. 13:        Bonhams, London                $0.97 million
Sept. 8:         Bonhams, U.S.                  $0.94 million


July 5:          Bonhams, London                $1.24 million


May 23:          Bonhams, Hong Kong             $1.42 million
May 19:          Bonhams, U.S.                  $0.74 million
May 10:          Bonhams, London                $0.90 million


March 29:        Bonhams, London                $0.68 million


Feb. 25:         Bonhams, U.S.                  $1.06 million
Feb. 9:          Bonhams, London                $0.69 million
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