Fine wine hits record as luxury auctions boom

13th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

A case of French wine fetched a record price this week as springtime auctions of fine jewellery, luxury watches and wines in Geneva marked a return to top price selling, auctioneers said Thursday.

An unnamed Asian private buyer snapped up the six bottles of iconic 1961 Hermitage La Chapelle for 109,250 Swiss francs (98,587 dollars, 77,469 euros) at Christie's, during sales in the Swiss city that outstripped estimates.

"A new world auction record per bottle has been set by a rare case of the great Hermitage 'La Chapelle' 1961 wine, sold for 109,250 Swiss francs against a low estimate of 60,000 francs," said David Elswood, international director of wine for Europe and Asia at the auction house.

"Two anonymous lady bidders won several of the highlights, contradicting the idea that the wine market is dominated by gentlemen," he added.

Overall sales of fine jewellery, watches and wine by Christie's this week surged by more than two-thirds compared to last year to 62.9 million Swiss francs (56.7 million dollars, 42.1 million euros).

"Demand for stellar examples rivalled that seen at the height of the market, which very much seems to have returned 'en force'," said Francois Curiel, head of Christie's Switzerland.

A fancy intense blue diamond ring sparked a bidding battle at rival Sotheby's, as three unidentified bidders sent the price up to a record for its type equivalent to 1.05 million dollars per carat -- 8.03 million dollars.

Sotheby's garnered nearly 60 million Swiss francs of jewellery sales this week, well above pre-sale estimates that had ranged down to about 37 million francs.

David Bennett, chairman of jewellery for Europe and the Middle East, said there was "enormous appetite throughout the world for jewels and gemstones of the very best quality."

Big spenders already marked their return at the international contemporary art sales in New York this week.

A late self-portrait by "pope of pop" Andy Warhol sold for a record 32.5 million dollars on Wednesday, more than twice as much as expected.

© 2010 AFP

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