Acker Asia ‘explodes’: Hong Kong auction nets HK$50 million, sets 108 records, disses economic slowdown talk

By Jim Boyce

Hey, that’s the word they used in the press release: “Acker Asia Explodes into Fall Season”.

Reading it makes me realize the tough times for the most recent crop of nouveau riche turned wine fans attending their first Hong Kong auction. It used to be one could simply show up, bid on some “Lafite” and feel good. Now one must deal with a group of names that sounds like the French synchronized swim team — Meo-Camuzet, Liger-Belair, Sauzet, Mongeard-Mugneret, the list goes on.

It must also be tough on PR teams at the auction houses, since every sale seems to have more bids beating pre-sale estimates, more records, more “frenzied” bidding (I hear three people have lost arms this year alone, can anyone confirm?). Plus, there is a dearth of appropriate synonyms for “frenzied”. “Frantic”, “manic” and “out of control” lack that same je ne c’est que. Maybe SNAFU-ish?

Anyway, Acker Asia held a two-day auction in Kong Kong last weekend that raised HK$50 million, set 108 records, and poured some cold Montrachet on all the blabbing about a looming economic slowdown in China. States Acker’s John Kapon:

“Continuing the momentum of our New York auction last weekend, the atmosphere here in Hong Kong was electric. People and the media keep talking about there being an economic slowdown coming in Hong Kong or China, but I couldn’t see anything of the sorts this weekend. Collectors made a point of attending this auction in person because they simply didn’t want to miss it, and then spent practically three times more than absentee bidders, even though both categories essentially won the same number of lots. The participation of buyers from mainland China was particularly significant as they competed vigorously with collectors from Hong Kong and around the globe for some of the greatest wines in the world, driving the prices of many lots beyond their estimates. American buyers notably bought 18% of this sale, an important indicator of a balanced and strong global market. Several US collectors even made the trip to HK just for this sale and feasted accordingly. The sale was absolutely sensational, demonstrating strength in all categories in this current diverse market.”

Is it just me or did he just justify some junkets for officials at China’s Ministry of Commerce for the next auction?

“Hey, we’ve just been assigned to find out if there is an economic slowdown coming in China. What should we do?”

“You fool. We have to go to the next Acker wine auction and talk to John Kapon. It’s the only way that we’ll know.”

Anyway, Burgundy brought the bucks last weekend, with two cases of assorted DRC at HK$442,800, six magnums of 1999 La Tâchein at HK$393,600, three bottles of 2010 Romanée Conti at HK$295,200 and six bottles of 1971 DRC Richebourg at HK$246,000.

“The breadth of demand for Burgundy was highly notable, an important indicator of a healthy, growing market,” says the press release. “World record prices were also set by Vogue, Roumier, Fourrier, Mugnier, Drouhin, Mongeard-Mugneret, Bouchard, Mortet, Mugneret, Clair Dau and Sauzet.”

It also noted strong sales of Bordeaux, including a 12-bottle case of 1982 Pétrus at HK$479,700, six bottles of 1961 Mouton at HK$246,000 and six bottles of 1966 Haut Brion at HK$108,24. Meanwhile, a case of 1992 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon fetched HK$442,800.

The next Acker sale in Hong Kong is on October 26. Expect it to be frenzied.

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