Can somebody lend me $199,000? I can come up with the rest
Somebody missed out on a real bargain last week: A case of ‘45 Mouton-Rothschild they could have snagged for a mere $200,000.
“This vinous legend — in original wood from the cellars of Bordeaux negociant house Mahler-Besse, no less — failed to reach its reserve, or confidential minimum price, and didn’t sell,” in the words of this article by Elin McCoy, published in yesterday’s Bloomberg.com. (I suppose Hizzoner, Mayor Bloomberg, could have afforded the Mouton, but that wouldn’t look good at a time when he’s slashing New York’s work force and raising taxes.)
It wasn’t just the Mouton that failed to stir bidders’ hearts and minds at the Zachys’s auction, and it wasn’t just the Zachys’s auction that was hurting. At a recent Sotheby’s auction, four cases of DRC’s Romanée-Conti — not Echézeaux, not Romanée-St.-Vivant, but Romanée-Conti itself — failed to reach the minimum price of $750,000.
OMG, WTF is going on when no one can afford Romanée-Conti anymore? Forget General Motors and AIG, the financial crisis has hit Main Street! (Well, Park Avenue, anyway.) I remember when I used to write the Collecting Page for Wine Spectator, all the famous American collectors would pay whatever it took to get their hands on such stellar bottles. They didn’t care. Flush with money from whatever source, they scoured the auctions of the world, nabbing First Growths, Grand Crus and Têtes de Cuvées that gave them endless boasting rights. But that was then; this is now, and “The air is getting thinner for $2,000 bottles,” the Bloomberg article quotes auctioneer John Kapon as saying.
I couldn’t help but think about this when I read the sad, but inevitable, news that COPIA is going to sell its beautiful building. (The news was reported in Wines & Vines.)
Something very serious and disconcerting is happening, and while no one quite knows what it is, the signs are everywhere. Or maybe we should call them the canaries in the coal mine. There’s irony, too, in the fact that the artist label on that ’45 Mouton reads Année de la Victoire. It celebrated the end of World War II, and was designed by Philippe Jullian, a gay artist who committed suicide in 1977. There was certainly something to celebrate in 1945. Not so now, or so it would seem — Barack Obama’s election notwithstanding.