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Christie's Auction House Partners with Wally's For New York Wine Auctions

Entry Level Wine and Sparkling

Los Angeles-based Wally's, a gourmet food, wine and spirits retailer, has partnered with international auction house Christie's to handle wine auctions in New York State. The first auction conducted by the partnership took place on June 22 and generated millions of dollars in sales of rare wines, including lots from Pierre Peters, Dom Perignon, Launois Pere et Fils, Krug, Ruinart, Veuve-Clicquot, Henriot, Pol Roger and others.

Expanding on their core offering of gourmet shopping and dining, Wally's got into the wine auction business in 2013 after being purchased by Paul and Maurice Marciano, founders of the GUESS? denim brand. Wally's invested heavily in their auction business from the outset, engaging top talent from established auction houses and holding sales in both New York and Los Angeles including sales from the collection of wine connoisseur Roy Welland. These initial auctions went well, but due to the high costs of operation in 2016 the company decided to pause the activities of their auction division while they sought out a new partner.

In the end, they chose Christie's. The Marciano brothers have a well-established business relationship with the auction house, making it a natural fit for Wally's auction offerings. Christie's is majority owned by the Artemis Group, which in turn is owned by France's Pinault family.

Christian Navarro, president and co-owner of Wally's, told Wine Spectator in June that the partnership is a mutually beneficial one that enables Wally's to direct new clientele to Christie's, while Wally's will benefit from the auction house's international reach and expertise in the auction sector.

In New York, any individual or company wishing to auction wine products must have a state wine retail license that has been valid for at least 10 years, and must also apply for a separate wine auction permit on an annual basis (the permit allows the holder to conduct up to 12 auctions per calendar year). Wally's has a valid New York license, which ensured a seamless transition for the partnership to begin holding auctions in the state.

The wine auction industry has become increasingly competitive in recent years. Auction houses regularly battle each other to gain the rights to conduct high-profile sales that feature rare products, sourced from cellars around the world.

Nathan Munn | Global Wine & Spirits