NEW YORK--()--Acker Merrall & Condit ended 2012 on a high note and once again as the largest auction firm worldwide for fine and rare wines. Acker’s global auction revenues totaled US$83.3 million commercially, not including charity auctions. Acker Merrall continued its dominance of the Hong Kong auction market, 27% ahead of the #2 firm in that critical growth arena.
Acker Merrall continued in its usual leadership role, setting new trends on the sales floor and watching the rest of the market adapt and follow. Towards the end of last year, Acker brought the seminal and game-changing event of the auction season with the Don Stott collection, conducting not only the largest sale of the entire year, but also setting the unmistakable benchmark in the market that Burgundy had arrived firmly in Asia to stake its claim as the most sought-after region on the auction circuit. Bordeaux had been on the forefront for much of the previous decade, but with the 2009 and 2010 vintages’ release prices seeing record levels, more collectors and investors started to look to Burgundy instead.
However, in May of this year, Acker again upped the ante with a Chateau Latour sale of legendary proportions by bringing to market a collection of the most impeccable provenance, from former Noble family shareholders and owners of the Chateau, spanning an incredible range of 1905-1982 bottles that had never been reconditioned or relabeled and therefore remained pristinely untouched by human hands since bottling. This sale brought record attention and many lots went for multiple times the estimate as collectors worldwide clamored for a bottle or two of this immaculate collection, showing that Bordeaux can never fall too far out of fashion.
September was the month of Champagne, and Acker again brought the attention of the wine world towards the greatest consignment of Champagne ever to come to auction in Hong Kong with a small part of the legendary cellar of Robert Rosania, widely known as the World’s top Champagne collector. With this remarkable sale, where the Champagne portion alone achieved nearly US$1 million, came Richard Juhlin, the leading authority on Champagne, to educate and participate with Acker and its clients in dinners, seminars and the auction itself. It was another milestone in a very busy year.
World records were set for six young vintages of DRC Romanée-Conti in November, cementing the Domaine as the world’s most important producer, one that represented over 17% of Acker’s overall dollar volume in 2012. Italy then took center stage in December, led by the first ever direct consignment from the cellars of Angelo Gaja, and spearheaded by a collaboration with James Suckling and his first Great Wines of Italy event, co-hosted by Hong Kong Tatler, the reference luxury magazine in Hong Kong. 2012 definitely proved that the ongoing diversification of the wine market among collectors worldwide continues to be led firmly by Acker Merrall.
Acker Merrall also achieved 894 World Records across all wines and regions throughout 2012, demonstrating that collectors worldwide seek Acker Merrall’s auctions as the destination for buying the best of the best for their cellars. Whereas Burgundy led the way with over 400 of those new world records, Bordeaux, Champagne, Italy, California and Spain were important regions too in establishing new records for auction prices worldwide.
Red Bordeaux still accounted for the majority of market share with 40% of total sales, but that was down almost 10% from 2011, as Burgundy, California, Champagne and Italy each took a bigger piece of the Bordeaux pie. Lafite Rothschild was still Bordeaux’s most traded producer, accounting for 7.5% of total market dollars. There were fourteen ‘million dollar brands,’ where over US$1 million was traded at auction, including DRC, Lafite Rothschild, Latour, Petrus, Mouton Rothschild, Margaux, Haut Brion, Leroy, Cheval Blanc, La Mission Haut Brion, Comte de Vogue, Henri Jayer, Krug and Screaming Eagle, in that order.
The year’s Top 10 lots, as measured by dollar value, are a roster of the greatest names and wines from France’s two most important and prestigious wines regions, Burgundy and Bordeaux, with DRC dominating as it has all year long. All these lots were sold in their original wood cases:
1. DRC Superlot – Assorted Vertical Cases of 8 great vintages (’97, ’98, ’99, ’00, ’01, ’04, ’05 and ’06), which sold for $353,231
2. 12 bottles 1945 Chateau Mouton Rothschild: $214,256
3. 12 bottles 1947 Chateau Cheval Blanc: $184,500
4. 12 bottles 1990 Romanée-Conti: $184,500
5. 12 bottles 1985 Romanée-Conti: $183,000
6. 12 bottles 1990 Romanée-Conti: $170,800
7. 12 bottles 1985 Romanée-Conti: $146,400
8. 12 bottles 1988 Romanée-Conti: $129,150
9. 12 bottles 1945 Chateau Latour: $116,850
10. 12 bottles 2004 Romanée-Conti: $110,700
While 2011 saw 62% of global revenues occur in Hong Kong, 2012 saw the pendulum swing back a bit to America, with only 56% of global revenues hammering down in HK versus America. Bidders from China’s ‘Big 4’ – HK, Macau, Taiwan and China – accounted for 53% of winning bids placed in 2012, with America buying 33% of all lots, Europe 8% and the rest of the world combining for the balance.
“I am very proud of the year that we had in 2012. It is satisfying to know that the world’s greatest producers and collectors continue to choose Acker Merrall. It is the wonderful relationships that we have with these people, the passionate wine lovers of the world, that make the business so rewarding,” said Acker Merrall & Condit’s CEO, John Kapon. “We are not simply the #1 wine auction firm in the world again in 2012; we are a firm that is passionate about wine and a firm that considers itself an ambassador for all that is great in wine. We are wine lovers first and foremost, and so are our clients. I am excited to see 2013 pick up where 2012 left off, with a selection from one of the most important collections in the world coming to auction in Hong Kong in late January, along with direct consignments from two of Burgundy’s elite producers, Domaines Dujac and Roulot. We plan on keeping our seatbelts fastened in 2013.”
Acker Merrall will kick of its 2013 auction season with auctions to be held in Hong Kong on January 25th and 26th and in New York on February 23rd.
About Acker Merrall & Condit
Founded in 1820, Acker Merrall & Condit is America’s oldest fine wine merchant and the world’s largest wine auction house. With affiliates in New York, Chicago and Hong Kong, the companies hold more than fifteen auctions a year, including Internet auctions. They are devoted to helping their customers buy and sell the best wines, and also to sharing with them the experience of enjoying wine. In recent years, the company has greatly expanded its services to education, tastings and the formation of wine clubs. Starting out as a family business, three generations of the Kapon family have been dedicated to bringing the best from the vine to their customers.