Romanee Conti Boosts $2.7 Million El Bulli Sotheby’s Sale

An Asian online bidder last night paid $36,750 for an evening in Barcelona with Ferran Adria, the chef of El Bulli, winner of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants title a record five times.

Bottles of DRC Romanee Conti fetched more than $50,000 at Sotheby’s El Bulli Wine Cellar event in New York. The sale was the second half of an auction that raised $2.7 million for the nonprofit foundation being built on the site of the Spanish restaurant, which closed in 2011.

The evening for four with Adria in Barcelona was the last of more than 600 lots of wine and kitchen equipment from the Catalan, Michelin three-star restaurant.

The successful bidder paid more than $9,000 a head for gastronomic conversation with the chef in a test kitchen before dinner at his brother’s tapas restaurant. The evening event had been estimated at $5,000, based on hammer prices. A similar package raised HK$220,500 ($28,400) in Hong Kong.

Sotheby’s said that the most expensive item was the 4-bottle lot of DRC Romanee Conti, the most desirable of Burgundies. From the 2004 vintage and with labels signed by Adria and El Bulli’s director Juli Soler, this sold to an Asian private bidder for $52,062, more than doubling its low estimate of $19,000.

Above-estimate results were helped by the charity dimension. Last night’s total of $913,605 with fees exceeded the $515,300 to $768,250 estimate, with 93 percent of the lots finding buyers. The first half, in Hong Kong on April 3, contributed $HK14.1 million.

Building Cost

Sotheby’s auctions will offset the projected 6 million euros to build the El Bulli Foundation, devoted to gastronomic research and creativity. It is planned to open in 2015.

“With these sales the dream becomes a reality,” Adria said after the auction, according to a Sotheby’s e-mailed statement.

More than 1 million people applied each year for the 8,000 places at El Bulli’s tables. Diners enjoyed Adria’s 48-course tasting menu with signature delicacies such as gin snow, nitro-caipirinha with tarragon concentrate, an exploding mimetic olive, hare “blood” and fruit kebab.

Muse highlights include New York and London weekend guides, Warwick Thompson on London theater, Jeremy Gerard on New York theater, Lewis Lapham on history and Craig Seligman and Greg Evans on film.

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