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Published:  23 July, 2008

Pre-sales estimates were shattered and record prices set at Aulden Cellar's/ Sotheby's New York sale on 1 December. It appears that there are still enough affluent collectors prepared to pay almost 17,000 per bottle for top-flight white Burgundy in order for the auction market to stay buoyant, even though it has tended to follow every rise and fall in the global economy. The record price set for seven bottles of 1978 Domaine de la Romane-Conti Montrachet ($167,500/118,190, including buyer's premium) was only the most astonishing of many impressive results in the highest-grossing wine auction of the year. The total of $4,285,738/3,024,017 for the contents of two private cellars shattered the pre-sale high estimate, with 53% of the lots realising higher than predicted prices, and 98.8% (by value) selling. The big buyers were all anonymous private collectors, with bidders from the room and on the telephone competing fiercely with absentee bidders. It remains to be seen whether such momentum can be sustained in 2002.