Sotheby’s sales of wine and spirits—which excludes private sales and retail sales in this category—achieved a record US$150 million in 2022, a 14% increase from last year’s high of US$132 million.
The solid performance reflects both the growing interest in this collecting category and the auction house’s push to reach more potential buyers. It hosted 69 auctions of wine and spirits throughout the year, up more than 30% from 2021, Sotheby’s said.
Sotheby’s launched its inaugural auctions of wine and spirits this year in France, which brought in US$42 million. France became the fourth major international hub for Sotheby’s to offer this category, alongside established locations in London, New York, and Hong Kong.
Asia remained the top sale region for Sotheby’s wine and spirits, realizing US$54 million or more than one third of its total auction sales. Buyers from Asia accounted for 41% of sales by value, Sotheby’s said.
Sotheby’s hosted 32 single-owner sales throughout the year, realizing a total of US$99 million. The most notable of these events was a US$6 million sale from the personal cellars of Prince Robert of Luxembourg, with proceeds benefiting his charitable foundation.
Fine wine accounted for the primary source of revenue, totaling US$121 million. Sales of spirits rose 15% year over year to US$29 million. The result reflects growing interest in collecting fine whiskies and other spirits, but also in drinking them. In the U.S., sales of spirits more than doubled to US$12 million from US$5 million in 2021 driven by more Americans drinking and collecting luxury liquors .
The headline lot of the year was an 81-year-old single-malt whisky from The Macallan, the oldest whisky ever to appear at auction. It sold for £300,000 (US$325,740) in October at Sotheby’s London.
Other top lots included a 55-year-old bottle from the Yamazaki Distillery, the birthplace of Japanese whisky, which sold for US$600,000 in June in New York; and a bottle of Kweichow Moutai, a famous Chinese liquor, in its original wooden case, which sold for US$1.1 million in May at Sotheby’s London.