Billionaire industrialist William Koch will auction off more than 20,000 bottles of wine from his vast collection, Bloomberg reported earlier in March. The auction, which represents close to half his total collection, will be held over a period of three days (May 19-21) at Sotheby’s in New York.
The sale is estimated to fetch between $10.5 and $15 million. According to The New York Post, some of the big items to be featured include the following.
“11 bottles of 1945 Latour Bordeaux for $24,000 to $35,000, a 16-liter bottle of 1991 Romanee-Conti burgundy for $70,000 to $100,000, and two bottles of 1921 Château d’Yquem for between $6,000 and $8,000.”
The GOP donor and noted wine enthusiast has one of the largest private collections in the country, which was assembled over a period of nearly 40 years. Koch was featured on the Sotheby’s website giving a video tour of the enormous wine cellar in his Palm Beach residence.
“When I started taking stock of all the bottles, I said to myself, ‘Oh, my gosh, I have a lot,'” Koch told The Post. “So if I’m not going to enjoy it, I thought let’s let someone else get to.”
The auction is being organized by Connor Kriegel, head of sales for Sotheby’s Wine.
“He’s bought on scale,” Kriegel told Bloomberg when asked how Koch managed to acquire such a collection. “Whenever he saw an opportunity to buy the things he loved, he bought.”
The American businessman’s wine will reportedly be sold in about 2,700 separate lots, more than 120 of which are from the world-renowned Château Latour, including a set of six with an estimated worth of $42,000 to $60,000. More than 80 lots will be of Château Mouton Rothschild, one lot of which is composed of 10 bottles of Mouton’s 1945 vintage, an extremely rare war-time wine with an estimated value of $80,000 to $120,000.
“That’s one of the most legendary wines,” said Kriegel to Bloomberg. “It’s the wartime vintage, and it’s one of the greatest wines they’ve ever made. To see it on such a scale is pretty spectacular.”
Koch has made the news for his wine collection before, though not always in a positive way. In the 1980s he paid $500,000 for four bottles of wine said to have been owned by President Thomas Jefferson, but were determined to be counterfeit according to a separate report by Bloomberg.
“Koch was no softie: This is a man who once subpoenaed his own 82-year-old mother. Although Koch had spent only $500,000 on wines that could be tracked back to Rodenstock, he shelled out $1 million on investigators and high-tech testing to prove the German a fraud. Still, Rodenstock—who has consistently defended his integrity—managed to sidestep Koch’s 2006 U.S. court challenge by refusing to participate or to come to the U.S.”
In 2005, he was ripped off again by a fine wine dealer Rudy Kurniawan, who sold him 211 bottles of counterfeit vintage for over $2 million. This time, Koch sued and even testified at the trial, and the scammer was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
“My cellar is the result of nearly four decades of collecting,” Bill Koch wrote in a statement on Sotheby’s website announcing the upcoming sale. “I aimed to assemble the very best Bordeaux and Burgundy where you could taste the love and the passion that the vintner had in making it. With around 43,000 bottles, I could not possibly consume everything in my cellar so I am delighted to offer this selection to allow collectors all over the world to enjoy the glorious moments that come with these wines.”
With the market price for wines up with the Koch name backing it, the auction is anticipated to do exceptionally well.
Clients and wine collectors from all over the globe are expected to attend the sale when it begins in May.
[Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images]