Well, actually more the highlights:
The sale, as usual for this auction house, was in Geneva but because of covid restrictions in Switzerland there was a live stream available for following the bidding but no bidders or spectators were allowed in the room. The staff of the auction house (Baghera) were in telephone contact with bidders in London, Paris, Hong Kong, Macau and Singapore – but I recollect no mention of a location in North America – though online bidders eventually accounted for 52% of the sales. A successful bidder on many lots was Ma Cuisine in Singapore. These were only bidders referred to by name rather than their paddle number – though whether they were buying for their restaurant, or other buyers, or a blend of the two, is only conjecture.
It all started in a rather steady fashion – the wines barely creeping up to mid-estimates – though to be fair, the estimates were not so low! From another perspective, the wines of the first few hundred lots were no more expensive than most of those sold at the René Engel auction two years ago by the same auction house. Perhaps it was the lack of participants in the room or many bottles of modest vintages – such as 1987/86/84 etcetera – but we were well into the auction before pre-sale estimates were finally ripped up and thrown out of the window.
The 1985s kindled much more interest but the fire really started with the wines of the 1980 vintage – I can only assume based on the positive recent article about the vintage by William Kelly in the Wine Advocate – but then bidding became even more impressive for the 1978s.
The sale was now clearly underway.
Wines from 1906 did very well – 6 bottles taking a hammer price of 185,000 francs – but the real fireworks were reserved for the wines of the 1865 and 1862 vintages. The better-known of the two is 1865 and it showed in the bidding; the first bottle sold for 165,000 Swiss francs, the buyer accepting the option of also taking the next 4 bottles at the same price per bottle – plus, not forgetting, the 22% buyer’s commission! This was the highest per bottle price of the auction; three subsequent lots of 6 bottles and then a case of 12 1865s – what a cellar chez Bouchard Père et Fils! – all receding a little in terms of the average bottle price, though that last case of 12 was the highest single bid of the auction – 1.6 million Swiss francs the hammer price or 1.952 million with the commission – or, if you prefer, 2.133 million US dollars.
The prices of the 1862s were, by comparison, modest – only 55-60,000 Swiss francs per bottle! 332 lots were offered and 332 lots were sold for a bid total of around 9.6 million francs. I assume Baghera and Bouchard Père et Fils will be very happy with the day and the results.