Sale: The Andrew Lloyd Webber Wine Collection
Location: Sotheby’s, The Connaught Room, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Hong Kong, tel: +852 2524 8121 or +44 (0)20 7293 5000
Date: Saturday January 22. Catalogue at www.sothebys.com
Need to know: Anyone who saw Andrew Lloyd Webber’s collection of Pre-Raphaelite art when it went on show at the Royal Academy in 2003 will know that the composer doesn’t do things by halves. That certainly applies to his enthusiasm for buying fine wine, which he began collecting while still at school during the 1960s. By 1997, Lord Lloyd Webber’s cellars had become so crammed that Sotheby’s was tasked with offloading more than 18,000 bottles in its Bond Street rooms – the auction raised a record £3.7m. Its highlight was the so-called “millennium dream cellar super lot” which comprised an imperial, three double magnums, two jeroboams, 77 magnums and 265 bottles of historic wines that sold for £242,000 to Rio Hotels of Las Vegas. Of the 1,412 lots offered, just three bottles failed to sell. In the intervening 13 years, Lloyd Webber has returned to old buying habits and, as Sotheby’s wine department head Serena Sutcliffe observes, “The magpie instinct can get the upper hand.” The result is this sale of 748 lots with an estimated value of up to £2.6m.
Highlights: While Lord Lloyd Webber’s decision to sell at Sotheby’s might be partly due to the success of the 1997 auction, it probably has as much to do with the fact that 2010 was a stellar year for its wine department, which turned over $88.2m, the highest amount in its 40-year history. The choice of Hong Kong as a venue probably didn’t require much thought – the enthusiasm of Asian wine buyers seems unstoppable and not a single bottle went unsold in any of Sotheby’s eight Hong Kong sales last year. This time, the wealthiest oenophiles will be battling it out for superlative wines such as 10 cases of Château Lafite 2005 each estimated at £10,000; four cases of Château Pétrus 2000 (£10,000-£16,000 per case) and two magnums of Romaneé Conti 1990 that could realise up to £20,000 apiece.