Nearly 5,000 bottles from the vast wine cellar of Paris City Hall that went to auction during the weekend brought in about $1.2 million, far beyond expectations, the auctioneer said Sunday.
Among others, a 1986 Romanee-Conti, a Burgundy, went for $6,280; a 1989 Petrus, a Bordeaux, was snatched up for $5,025.
Nearly 5,000 bottles later, $1.2 million had been paid out for nearly a third of City Hall's fine wines, much of it collected during President Jacques Chirac's nearly two-decade reign as mayor, said auctioneer Dominique Giafferi. Auction organizers had expected the sale to bring in about $942,000.
Bernard Bled, then secretary general of City Hall, personally built up the wine cellar from 1975 to 2001 to regale dinner guests at the opulent City Hall — where protocol dictates that leaders on state visits pay a call.
"I would have preferred to see them drunk and enjoyed by important people, as intended," Bled said ahead of the auction.
Much of the collection was pulled together during conservative Chirac's term as mayor from 1977-1995. However, Socialist Mayor Bertrand Delanoe's team decided to part with a portion of the holdings.
Some buyers had said they were bidding because they wanted to keep French treasures in France. Foreigners will be drinking of them deeply, nevertheless.
The Romanee-Conti was sold to Stephen Williams, president of The Antique Wine Company based in London, who bid on behalf of clients in major oversees markets from the United States to Japan and China.