Christie’s International began its 2012 US campaign in New York on the 25th of January with an auction with a twist. The wine sales are held hard on the heels of an art auction featuring old masters such as Rubens and Anthony Van Dyck. The logic being that the people who buy fine art often also dabble in fine wine; given such a convenient opportunity, the possibilities for cross selling are very strong.
Christie’s isn’t the only auction house willing to try new things. The drop in prices in Hong Kong could continue and the large auction houses, so keen over the last few years to throw in their lots with the Chinese, are rethinking their strategies. US customers, whilst not having the “no price too high” clout of their Chinese counterparts, offer different opportunities to wine merchants and auction houses. US collectors tend to be more diverse and look to wines, not only from the less glamorous growths of Bordeaux and Burgundy, but also from other wine centres such as the Rhone, Germany, California and Italy. As the price of the top Bordeaux falls in Hong Kong, the auction houses can pick up the slack by selling more wine in the US and elsewhere.
Spectrum Auctions, A California based auction house who have been active in Hong Kong throughout the last four years, have teamed up with the UK based Vanquish Wines Ltd. to present their first London auction. The February event will be held in the Mandarin Oriental’s Grand Ballroom, and, in a break with the traditional London wine trade practice, will be held in the evening with Champagne and hors d’oeuvres. The more convivial atmosphere it is hoped will attract a different type of customer and, ultimately, boost sales.
Online auction sites are also beginning to grow with companies like Winebid.com and Acker Merrill and Condit’s online arm seeing strong increases in sales over the last year.