An insight into the eye-watering sums sloshing around the commercial bar
A Blackstone Chambers silk has sold part of his private wine collection with an estimated value of up to £8.6 million.
Ian Mill QC, a sports and entertainment lawyer, flogged over 6,000 bottles of luxury tipple at auction in New York.
The sale, grandly titled The Collection of Ian Mill QC, took place in the triple Michelin-starred Le Bernardin restaurant. Prices ranged from a bargain basement $250-$450 (£190-£350) for a three-litre bottle of Benjamin Leroux with a creased label to $60,000-$90,000 (£46,000-£70,000) for a case of Corton Charlemagne Coche-Dury 2005 (as served at the Legal Cheek Christmas party).
Mill’s career spans commercial, intellectual property, sports and media law, with clients over the years including Bob Geldolf, Ed Sheeran, David Beckham and Radiohead. He’s also a restaurateur with a stake in swanky City eatery Cabotte, and according to wine auctioneers Zachys is planning to open his own restaurant in California’s Wine Country.
Representatives from Zachys sat down with Mill before the sale to hear a few of his reminisces about drinking wine, describing his anecdotes as “dripping with charm”. One particularly fond memory is of the annual dinner of Morris & Verdin, a wine merchant in which Mill was an investor:
“Ian remembers Dominique Lafon literally swinging from the rafters at a wine dinner, with Ian looking on, confident he was about to witness the demise of one of Burgundy’s greatest talents. To give you an idea of how heady these bacchanals were: Ian also remembers a particular evening at which Jasper Morris stood up to announce that he had just had his 100th glass of wine that evening”
Mill bought the wines in his collection from UK wine merchants or London-based auction houses, starting in 1985. Zachys describes this as “surely one of the most compelling wine-collecting stories ever written”. The wine itself was labelled “one of the most important collections of fine wine, and particularly fine Burgundy, that has come to market in the past decade. One could even say century”.
There were 1,308 lots in the sale, with most lots made up of multiple bottles of the same wine. All told there were over 6,000 bottles in the auction, with a pre-sale estimated value of between $7 million and $10.7 million (£5.6 million to £8.6 million). All but three lots were sold.
The most expensive sale of the day, including a commission of 23.5% to Zachys, was $74,100 (£59,000) for six magnums of Chambertin Clos de Beze Armand Rousseau 2005. Alex doesn’t pay us enough to wade through and add up the value of all 1,305 sales, but it’s safe to say that Mill’s bank balance will be several million healthier following the auction. Most QCs have to work for at least a month to bring in that kind of money.