Lafite 2005 leads sale of Andrew Lloyd Webber's fine wines in Hong Kong

Regular readers will know that Andrew Lloyd Webber, the creator of Phantom of the Opera and Cats amongst other notable shows, has already had a major impact on collectibles in recent months: he sold an important Picasso in London early in the summer.

That Picasso, the Portrait of Angel de Fernández de Soto, is better known as The Absinthe Drinker due to the large glass of the drink which sits in front of the lugubrious subject, and is a classic of the artist's Blue Period.

It headed a vast sale of Impressionist and Modern Art at Christie's that became the biggest ever held in Britain, achieving £152.6m ($241m) with the work itself achieving £34.8m ($51.6m) for the owner's charity.

Thankfully, it seems that whilst the work may indicate Lloyd Webber's tastes in art, it does not reflect his taste in beverages, as the composer owns an impressive wine cellar of which a large part is to go under the hammer in an upcoming sale of fine wines at Sotheby's early next year.

The auction is to be held in Hong Kong, as Lloyd Webber has been paying attention to the rapid increase in the collectibles market in general and wine in particular in the region. As we've mentioned, Acker, Merrall and Condit in particular have been in full flow.

Those wines going under the hammer include a stunning 21 cases of Château Mouton Rothschild 2005, 10 cases of Château Lafite 2005, and two magnums of Domaine de la Romanée Conti. In total there are 748 lots which are expected to fetch $2.8-4.1m.

The Lafite 2005 will be particularly interesting to watch given the recent performance of Lafite in Asia. 'Lafite' sounds like 'on the way up' in Chinese, which has boosted its popularity in the country. That's without the memorabilia factor of its having belonged to the world-famous composer. It should be a strong investment

Serena Sutcliffe, Master of Wine, Sotheby's International Head of Wine, commented: "The Andrew Lloyd Webber wine collection has seen many enthusiasms and a plethora of vintages, but the discernment and selectivity have remained a constant.

"As with all collecting, the magpie instinct can get the upper hand and there comes a time when there is no more space on the walls nor in the cellar.

"So Sotheby's has been able to 'design' a sale of such splendour that wine lovers around the globe will be able to realise their own collecting ambitions. It is a marvel that wines of this quality and excitement can now come to the market, while the owner still retains glorious drinking for gatherings of family and friends."

Lloyd Webber is no stranger to wine auctions. In 1997 a section of his cellar was sold in London, again by Sotheby's, for £3.2m ($6.1m) which was a record-breaker at the time. The latest auction will take place on January 22.


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