eries of successful high-profile auctions have taken place in Hong Kong, of which three within the first month of the year. Further proof of HK’s prominent position in the Bordeaux-dominated fine and rare wines market. Two of these auctions were particularly high profile with a partial sell-off of the cellar of Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, followed by a consignment from Bordeaux Winebank, a fund. Acker, Merrall and Condit, meanwhile, followed-up with a sale of premium Bordeaux and Burgundy. In all cases, providence was a key factor in attracting bidders prepared to go the extra mile.
Liv-ex, the wine exchange, has published an article praising the success of Hong Kong’s auction position. Nonetheless, by analysing the results of 25 leading Bordeaux brands that appeared in all 3 auctions, it goes on to highlight that, overall, winning bidders paid a premium of 9% at Acker, 8% at Sotheby’s Lloyd Webber and a full 22% at Sotheby’s Winebank over the Liv-ex Mid Price, widely credited as the most accurate price indicator for the market.
Above has received widespread attention in the wine media. It seems HK buyers are willing to pay a significant premium over for example UK trade prices.
So, does this mean that selling at auction in HK will net you the best price?
The same Liv-ex study finds that once the buyer’s premium is removed (22% Acker, 25% Sotheby’s HK) to show final hammer prices, the ‘seller actually achieved around 10% less than the Liv-ex Mid Price at both the Acker and Lloyd Webber sales…and a par score at the Bordeaux Winebank sale’.
Therefore, the answer to above question is a resounding “no”. Even assuming a 0 % sellers commission (which is only the case at AMC, Sotheby’s charge between 2% and 10%), a seller will on average achieve 10% higher prices when selling to London Wine merchants.
As some Hong Kong merchants note, also for them London retains its central position in the secondary market, as often it is there that the best prices, whether buying or selling, can be found.