Contents of fine wine cellar fetch pounds 1.58m

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The Independent Online
CHRISTIE'S claimed to have broken the world auction record for a wine cellar last night in selling an 18,000-bottle collection for a total of pounds 1.58m.

Although the most expensive single bottle to be sold remains the 1787 Chateau Lafite claret, which fetched pounds 105,000 in 1985, yesterday's sale achieved a record price for any single lot of wine when a set of 200 cases (2,028 bottles) sold for pounds 374,000 - more than three times the previous record. It was bought by David Mason, chairman of MacConnal-Mason, the London dealers, whose clients include Sir Andrew Lloyd-Webber. Mr Mason, who fought off competition from Tiffany's Delicatessan and Wine Supermarket in Hong Kong, said: 'I'm saving it for the biggest party Duke Street's ever seen.'

Another large lot of 197 cases went to an unnamed American collector for pounds 220,000.

Other top prices included five cases of 1947 Chateau Cheval-Blanc, one of the greatest clarets ever produced, which sold for between pounds 17,600 and pounds 19,800; and six magnum bottles of 1945 Chateau La Mission-Haut-Brion, which sold for pounds 7,480. Many of the bottles were bought for investment rather than their bouquet.

Christie's would not reveal the identity of the seller. However, one source suggested it was Remington Norman, a Master of Wine. The previous record for an entire cellar, the firm said, was pounds 887,000 for a collection sold in France.

Sotheby's yesterday sold a rare and exquisite 17th-century Japanese screen, decorated with dancing girls, for pounds 1.05m. It was expected to do well, but not that well: its initial estimate was pounds 30,000 to pounds 40,000.