Two years after selling some 360 bottles of wines worth HK$116 million (US$15 million) from his personal cellar, Taipei billionaire Pierre Chen is poised to make auction history this fall with the world's largest and most valuable single-owner wine sale at Sotheby's, offering more than 25,000 bottles that could fetch up to US$50 million.
Ranking 446th on Forbes' rich list with a net worth estimated at US$5.4 billion, Chen is the chairman of Yageo Corporation, a leading electronic component manufacturing company specializing in passive devices.
Also a mega-collector of art, he describes wine as the 9th art, "the only art form one can consume, using senses that other art forms don't typically involve."
The extraordinary wine collection, which he assembled over forty decades and replete with mythical vintages, will be presented through a series of five dedicated sales, each devoted to a different type of wine or aspect of the collection.
The first of these is to be staged in Hong Kong at the end of November, following subsequent sales and special events in Paris, Burgundy, New York, and London, before closing out next autumn back in Hong Kong.
Pierre Chen is a mega-collector of both art and wine
David Hockney's seminal Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) was acquired by Pierre Chen
Domaine Faiveley, Musigny Grand Cru 2015 (1 Magnum)
Estimate: US$12,000 - 16,000
Domaine Faiveley, Musigny Grand Cru 2016 (1 Magnum)
Estimate: US$10,000 - 15,000
Domaine Faiveley, Musigny Grand Cru 2017 (1 Magnum)
Estimate: US$10,000 - 15,000
Outside the business circles, Chen is known first and foremost as a leading collector of art, whose art holdings include big names such as Pablo Picasso, Gerhard Richter, Francis Bacon, and a record-breaking Sanyu for which he paid HK$303 million (US$39.1 million) in 2019.
Currently, a fraction of the paintings he owned under the name of Yageo Foundation – the philanthropic branch of his electronics company – is on view in the special exhibition, Capturing the Moment, at Tate Modern in London through January 2024.
Among the works he loaned to Tate is David Hockney's Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures), the US$90.3 million seminal pool scene that earned Hockney the title of the world's most expensive living artist.
Pierre Chen purchased a parcel of the Musigny vineyard in 2015
Having an equal passion for wine, Chen purchased a parcel of Musigny Grand Cru vineyard in 2015 and has since partnered with the Faiveley family to produce his own wines.
Where he paid for the land, the Faiveley are responsible for the farming, management, and production of the wine. In return, he receives his "dividend" every year in the form of a private allocation of the limited production, bottled exclusively in magnums.
Five of these magnums, spanning five great vintages, will be among the highlights of this collection. Though standard-sized bottles of this rare wine are occasionally to be found for sale, only once before have magnums of this been released to the market.
Pierre Chen receives a private allocation of Musigny's annual production bottled in magnums every year
In fact, the wines Chen collected are the rarest of the rare, some from legendary vineyards, many of whose production is minuscule, only a handful of bottles a year.
Some other coveted bottles in the sales include two imperials of Domaine de la Romaneé-Conti La Tâche 1985, which could sell up to US$190,000 each, and a single imperial of 1982 Pétrus, often considered one of the greatest of Bordeaux wines, which is estimated between US$45,000 and 65,000.
A true wine lover at heart, he believes, "sharing is the most important process of wine appreciation." Now that he has acquired more bottles than he and his friends and family can enjoy, Chen decided it was the right time to share with others "the magic of wine", encouraging people to "start the art of living by living with the arts of your choice – in this case, wine."
Highlight lots from the Hong Kong sale:
Domaine de la Romaneé-Conti La Tâche | A 3-litre Jeroboam from 1971
Estimate: US$110,000 - 140,000
Domaine de la Romaneé-Conti La Tâche | 2 Methuselahs, 1985
Estimate: US$120,000 - 190,000 (each)
Domaine Leroy Musigny 1991 (2 bottles)
Estimate: US$12,000 - 18,000 per bottle
Domaine Armand Rousseau Chambertin 1990 (12 bottles)
Estimate: US$4,000 - 6,000 per bottle
Domaine Armand Rousseau Chambertin 1985 (2 Magnums)
Estimate: US$24,000 - 32,000 per magnum
Henri Jayer Vosne Romanee Cros Parantoux 1er Cru 2001 (6 Magnums)
Estimate: US$50,000 - 70,000 per magnum
Château Lafite Rothschild 1959 (2 Magnums)
Estimate: US$10,000 - 13,000
Château Cheval Blanc 1947 (6 bottles)
Estimate: US$7,500 - 11,000
Petrus 1982 (6-litre Imperial)
Estimate: US$45,000 - 65,000
Auction House: Sotheby's
Sale Series: The Epicurean’s Atlas
- Sale: The Encyclopedic Cellar
- Date: 24 & 25 November 2023
- Sale: Live in the Vines
- Date: July 2024
- Sale: The Ultimate Champagnes
- Date: July 2024
- Sale: Around the Globe
- Date: September 2024
- Sale: The Zenith
- Date: November 2024