‘Every bottle has a story’: most valuable wine collection ever sold could fetch £41m

<span>Photograph: Marco Bottigelli/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Marco Bottigelli/Getty Images

These are no ordinary tipples. When the largest and most valuable collection of rare wines ever sold comes to market, aficionados are going to need deep pockets: some could go for almost $200,000 (£165,000) apiece.

The 25,000 bottles of wine, including many mythical vintages and names, are just part of the collection of Taiwanese billionaire Pierre Chen. They are expected to be fetch up to $50m (£41m) at separate auctions in Paris, London, New York, Hong Kong and Beaune, considered the Burgundy region’s wine capital.

“This is the ultimate wine collection, which comes to the market at a time when global interest in fine wine has arguably never been greater,” said Nick Pegna, the global head of wine and spirits at Sotheby’s, which is organising the sale. “This is a cellar in which every bottle has a story, and in which every wine is the best you could wish to own and enjoy.”

The auction house said Chen’s collection, acquired over 40 years, was “the most broad-ranging, valuable cellar ever formed”.

Among the highlights are two six-litre Methuselahs of Domaine de la Romaneé-Conti La Tâche 1985 estimated at up to $190,000 (£156,000) each, one from 1999 ($130,000), and a three-litre 1971 Jeroboam of the same “iconic” red burgundy ($140,000).

Two magnums of 1985 Domaine Armand Rousseau Chambertin are expected to go for up to $32,000 each, and six magnums of 2001 Vosne-Romanée Cros Parantoux 1er Cru produced by Henri Jayer, known as the “Godfather of burgundy”, for up to $70,000 each.

Among the white burgundies, 12 bottles of 2014 Bâtard-Montrachet are estimated at up to $22,000 each, while the red Bordeaux on offer include a 1959 Château Lafite Rothschild, a 1961 Château Latour and the “seminal” 1947 Château Cheval Blanc.

A single, exceptionally rare six-litre imperial of 1982 Pétrus, widely considered one of the greatest of all Bordeaux wines, is set to go for up to $65,000, and assorted vintage Krug and Dom Perignon champagnes for between $5,000 and $7,000 a bottle.

Chen, 66, the founder and chair of Yageo Corporation, which makes electronic components for cars, computers and mobile phones, is ranked 466th on Forbes’ rich list, with a fortune estimated at $5.5bn.

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Also a renowned modern art collector, he has described wine as “to me, the ninth art. It is the only art form one can consume, using senses that other art forms don’t typically involve, such as taste and smell – and it requires creativity on the part of the owner.”

High as some of the estimates may be for the sales, which start in November in Hong Kong and will continue until autumn 2024, they are significantly lower than some of the record prices paid for single bottles of wine.

In July 2022, a magnum of Avenue Foch 2017 champagne became, at $2.5m, the most expensive bottle of wine ever sold – but it came in a bottle bearing original Bored Ape artwork and with a then sought-after NFT giving the owner the rights to the imagery.

Outside charity auctions, the highest sum paid for a “regular” bottle of wine at a commercial auction is believed to be $558,000, forked out by an Asian collector in 2018 for an extremely rare bottle of 1945 Romanée-Conti.