Alex Ferguson’s Wines Set to Lead Hong Kong AuctionsFrederik Balfour
Bottles of Romanee-Conti belonging to former Manchester United Manager Alex Ferguson and a pair of Qing dynasty dishes will lead Christie’s spring sales in Hong Kong beginning May 24.
The auction house estimates that its five-day sale of contemporary Asian art, classical Chinese paintings and ceramics, jewelry, watches and wine will raise HK$2.5 billion ($322 million).
The sale by Ferguson carries a low estimate of HK$26 million, according to Christie’s. His image graces the cover of the auction catalog and appears more than 30 times inside.
Some bottles bear the signature of British soccer’s most successful manager, who led Manchester United to 38 trophies in 26 years before retiring last year, and others are offered together with signed football shirts. Following el Bulli chef Ferran Adria and former chief secretary Henry Tang, Ferguson is the latest high-profile seller to tap Hong Kong, the world’s largest wine auction market.
“I think we will continue to see more celebrity sales, which gives flair and interest to wine auctions,” said wine critic James Suckling. “It’s fun to see what well-known people have collected over the years and then have the chance to buy the wine.”
The top lot of Ferguson’s collection is a six-liter methuselah of Romanee-Conti Domaine de la Romanee-Conti 1997 with a high estimate of HK$1 million.
He is also selling bottles of first growth Bordeaux wines from the chateaus of Haut Brion, Margaux, Lafite, Mouton Rothschild as well as right bank Bordeaux Chateau Petrus.
Wines from Tuscany include signed six-liter imperiales of Ornellaia 2006 and Sassicaia 2005.
Ferguson’s 38 trophies included 13 Premier League titles, five F.A. Cups, four League Cups and two Champions Leagues. He was knighted in 1999 and retired in May last year.
Other highlights of the five-day marathon include the Asian 20th century and contemporary evening sale on May 24 led by a piece from Zeng Fanzhi’s “Mask Series” with an estimate of HK$20 million to $25 million.
On May 27, a necklace made of emeralds and containing the largest Golconda diamond ever auctioned in Asia, weighing 40.0 carats, with a high estimate of HK$80 million is leading the jewelry sale. Golconda refers to a mining region in India that has produced some of the world’s most-famous gems.
The top lot of the final day of the sale on May 28 is a pair of Yongzheng era (1723-1735) dishes adorned with peaches carrying a high estimate of HK$60 million.
Zachys, a White Plains, New York-based wine merchant, is also holding an auction in Hong Kong on May 24, featuring vintage Bordeaux, including 12 bottles of Petrus 1989 with a top estimate of HK$420,000 and a magnum of Mouton Rothschild 1945 estimated to fetch as much as HK$280,000, according to the Zachys website.
Burgundies for sale include a Domaine de la Romanee-Conti assortment case from 1990, carrying a high estimate of HK$600,000.