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Christie’s Signature Cellars Wine Auction to Start Series of Online-Exclusive Sales

by WorthPoint Staff (07/24/12).

Three bottles of Château Lafite-Rothschild of 1986 vintage is one of 301 lots available in the Signature Cellars sale, the first in a planned series of online-only auctions planned by Christie’s. This lot carries a $3,000-$4,500 estimate.

NEW YORK – An auction of fine and rare wines is serve as Christie’s inaugural Internet-exclusive sale, the first in a planned series of online-only auctions that will run in parallel to the company’s traditional saleroom-based auctions. The launch marks the next major step in the Christie’s market-leading global e-commerce strategy.

Signature Cellars will open for bidding on Aug. 6 and run through Aug. 20. All browsing and bidding for individual lots will be done completely online.

Christie’s launch of globally accessible, online-exclusive auctions builds on the success of two very successful pilot sales conducted last fall and earlier this spring. The online-only component of The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor totaled $9.5 million, far exceeding its pre-sale estimate of $1 million. Similarly, the company’s recent online-only charity auction of couture handbags by Hermès tripled expectations, raising $229,000.

“The success of these two pilots demonstrates our clients around the world are eagerly embracing online-only sales as a regular addition to Christie’s calendar of traditional live auctions,” said Steven P. Murphy, CEO of Christie’s International. “Over the past year, we have made a significant commitment to building our e-commerce platform so that we may now support online-only sales on a broader level. With this new initiative, collectors will be able to experience the full theater of the online auction experience year-round.”

As with all of Christie’s auctions of fine and rare wines, Signature Cellars brings together a closely curated mix of blue-chip wines from the old world and the new, along with approachably priced selections suitable for holding or enjoying now. At the top end, collectors will find everything from ’82 Lafite and Latour to hard-to-source California cult wines from Harlan Estate and Screaming Eagle. There are also great rarities that will inspire any serious collector looking to broaden their cellar, including magnums of fine Champagne and imperials of Bordeaux, beautifully-aged Port, and a swath of much-loved Bandol wines from Domaine Tempier. Estimates start as low as $200 and go as high as $35,000. The total sale of 301 lots is estimated to achieve in excess of $750,000.

“As a collecting category, wine lends itself very well to a global, online-only auction platform,” said Scott Torrence, vice president and senior wine specialist at Christie’s. “Online bidding has been a major component of our live saleroom-based wine auctions for more than five years now, with consistent participation from clients at the highest price levels. As a way of doing business, online-only sales are a very natural progression that provides our clients with even more opportunities to build and broaden their collections of fine and rare wines.”

Wine collectors can browse the sale’s 301 lots of fine and rare wines online. Online bidding for all lots opens on Aug. 6 and continues for two weeks. Clients will click to register their bids and will receive updates throughout the two weeks on the progress of their desired lots. Bidding will close on Aug. 20, with each lot awarded to the highest bid at closing time. All payment is by credit card, and bidding registration is open to all clients, anywhere in the world.

Among the highlights of the Signature Cellars sale is:

Top Vintages: Château Cheval-Blanc – Vintage 2000, Saint-Emilion, 1er grand cru classé (A), 1 dozen bottles (Estimate: $7,000-$10,000)

Blue-Chip First-Growths: Château Lafite-Rothschild – Vintage 1982, Pauillac, 1er cru classé, 1 dozen bottles (Estimate: $35,000-$45,000)

Eclectic Rarities: Bandol La Tourtine – Vintage 2001, Domaine-bottled: Tempier, 1 double magnum (Estimate: $250-$400)

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