Driven by Expansion of Online Sales and Increase in First-Time Buyers
Market Leader in Asia
Growth in Spirits Business with 20% of Overall Sales

NEW YORK & LONDON, – Sotheby’s Wine’s annual auction sales of wines and spirits totalled $92 million in 2020, driven by the expansion of online sales, younger buyers entering the market, an increase in first-time buyers, and both new and established collectors embracing the company’s enhanced digital tools. Buyers from Asia continued to claim a larger share of global sales, with Sotheby’s leading the market in the region for the third consecutive year. Sotheby’s Wine Retail also achieved strong results this year, in both Hong Kong and New York.

Jamie Ritchie, Worldwide Head of Sotheby’s Wine, said: “Our success in 2020 was due to our team’s ability to adopt a very rapid digital transformation, where we hosted 17 online auctions in addition to 23 live auctions, when we originally planned 28 live auctions. The digital tools that we now use would have taken another two to five years to implement under normal circumstances and resulted in the growth of 40% of new buyers, with particular strength in the under 40 category. The year’s highlights were the strength of our sales in Asia, representing over 55%, the growth in the Spirits market representing 20%, and the publication of The New Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia. The range of our sales illustrates our innovation as leaders in the wine and spirits business and the breadth of our activities, from auction to retail, from New York to Hong Kong.”

Adam Bilbey, Head of Sotheby’s Wine, Asia, said: “To lead the market in Asia for the third year in a row, with our second highest total and backboned by eight single owner sales, is testament to the wonderful collections we have been entrusted with, and thanks to our loyal clients throughout the region. In these unprecedented and challenging times, Sotheby’s Wine has transformed its business across the world, with a digital revolution. In Hong Kong, our Spirits business has led this charge with eight online sales, selling to more fine Spirits collectors and to a younger and more diverse client base, than ever before. We look forward to continuing this trend in 2021.”

Jonny Fowle, Sotheby’s Spirits Specialist, said: “2020 saw phenomenal growth for spirits, which made up 20% of Sotheby’s Wine’s annual business globally. During this challenging time, we rapidly and successfully transitioned to an online auction format, bringing in new bidders and generating records for the most valuable Japanese Whisky, the oldest vintage Cognac, and the highest price for any bottle of Dalmore sold at auction. Sensitive to the struggles felt by so many around the world this year, we partnered with The Macallan, The Dalmore, Dictador and Diageo to produce sensational results for charities such as City Harvest, Water Aid and SAMH. We look forward to continuing this success into 2021 with more distillery partnerships for charity, leading with the Black Bowmore Cabinet in Hong Kong next Spring”.

Facts & Figures

• Global Wine and Spirits sales total $92 million
• Over 15,000 lots sold across 41 sales, an almost 50% increase in the number of sales held in 2019
• Bidders from more than 40 countries
• Market leader in Asia for third consecutive year
• Growth in spirits business with an overall total of $18 million (20% total sales), 15 sales and 1,800 lots sold – five years ago spirits represented less than 2% of sales
• Top lots of the year:
o The Macallan Red Collection, sold for $977,496
o The Macallan in Lalique Six Pillars Collection, sold for $507,819

Strength in Asia:

• Second biggest year ever, with digital transformation (including 11 online sales versus two online sales in 2019)
• Three-day Hong Kong sale series in July brought $23 million: the third highest total ever for a wine sale series in Asia, over 150% higher than any competitor wine sale series
• 40% of bidders in Hong Kong sales are in their 20s and 30s
• Over 30% bidders in Hong Kong sales are new to Sotheby’s
• 73% of total bid amount in all Wine and Spirits sales come from collectors in Asia


• Over $60 million of wine and spirits sold to online bidders in 2020 versus $28 million in 2019
• 84% lots offered were bought online
• 46% first time bidders aged in their 20s or 30s

New Buyers and Bidders:

• 40% buyers and 38% bidders new to Sotheby’s
• Bidders aged 40 years or younger made up 29% of new bidders, 31% total amount bid amount in global wine sales, and 38% bidders in global Spirits sales
• 45% bidders bid for first time in Spirits sales
• 31% bidders bid for first time in Wine sales


• Several world record prices for Spirits at auction were achieved this year:

o World record for any bottle of Japanese whisky with Karuizawa 52 Year Old Zodiac Rat Cask #5627 1960 ($435,273, London, March).
o World record for any bottle of whisky produced by the Dalmore Distillery with two bottles of The Dalmore 62 Year Old ($324,445 per bottle, London, May).

• The year saw several partnerships with leading distilleries:

o Sotheby’s X The Macallan:

 In October at Sotheby’s in London, a unique set of The Macallan Red Collection – the only artist’s label set to be released by The Macallan – sold for $977,496. Proceeds from this lot were donated to City Harvest London and provided 620,000 meals for those in need.

o Sotheby’s X Diageo:

 In September the first offering at auction of set #1 of the first release of The Prima & Ultima Collection sold for $35,249 in an online auction, with proceeds from the sale donated to Diageo’s charity partner WaterAid.

o Sotheby’s X The Dalmore:

 Sotheby’s first Dalmore collaboration of the year in Hong Kong saw an entire Cask of 1973 Dalmore offered as part of the innovative cross-category silent auction ‘In Confidence: Selected Masterpieces’. The winning bidder will be flown to Scotland to work directly with The Dalmore Master Distilling team to complete their casks maturation and bottle into personalised decanters.

 Sotheby’s second partnership of 2020 with The Dalmore in Hong Kong consisted of two 1979 Private Cask bottlings in engraved Candela crystal decanters donated directly from The Dalmore Distillery for charity. The proceeds from the Dalmore 38 & 39 Year Old Private Casks 1979, which sold for $32,390, benefitted the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH).

o Sotheby’s X Bowmore:

 In the spring of 2021 in Hong Kong, Sotheby’s will offer The Black Bowmore Archive Cabinet – the complete Black Bowmore single malt whisky collection direct from the Bowmore distillery, comprising five archive bottles, spanning 1993 to 2016, presented in a truly unique bespoke piece of furniture created by award-winning craftsman John Galvin (estimate in the region of $500,000).

About Sotheby’s Wine

Sotheby’s Wine, with a store located within the auction house’s worldwide headquarters on New York’s Upper East Side, offers a carefully curated selection of wines from the world’s most prestigious producers and important regions. Expertly assembled by Sotheby’s’ experienced specialists, the ever-evolving selection is built upon lasting relationships with winemakers from across the globe, with prices beginning at just $13.95. With bottles that are ready for immediate consumption, in addition to investment-worthy wines from highly sought-after vintages, each wine is chosen for its expression of its region and value for money. Each bottle selected by Sotheby’s specialist team must pass the brand’s signature “three-glass” tasting guideline, meaning that the tasters must like it enough to want to drink three glasses, or the standard amount enjoyed when sharing a bottle.

The Sotheby’s Wine Store in New York City is located at 1334 York Avenue, and is open Monday through Friday from 10AM to 7PM and Saturday from 10AM to 6PM. Along with a retail location in Hong Kong Sotheby’s Wine also offers all bottles online, 24 hours, at

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