Thursday, May 19, 2011

Drinking with the Devil

It’s not quite drinking with the devil, as the old rock and roll tune has it, but it’s close. Yesterday, Morell & Co. Fine Wine Auctions sold through every one of the lots that were up for sale in an auction of the wine and booze of Beelzebub himself, Bernie Madoff.

“All 59 lots, ranging from fine Bordeaux to the types of small bottles often found in hotel minibars, found buyers, with 54 selling above the highest estimated pre-auction price,” reported The Daily Mail today. “The winning bids exceeded the roughly $15,000 to $21,000 the auction...had been expected to raise.” Proceeds from it will go to the victims of Madoff’s massive Ponzi scheme.

As for the bottles themselves--well, aside from a few trophy lots and individual wines, let’s just say that Madoff didn’t spend his (not-so-hard-earned) money on the kind of things most wine lovers would. Sure, there was the case of Mouton-Rothschild 1996, as well as some other big-name bottles, but there were also airline-sized shots of spirits that some poor sap paid $300 for. (I repeat: $300 for mini bottles!) quoted Ray Isle, Executive Wine Editor of Food and Wine Magazine, as saying about the collection: “‘It doesn’t strike me as a cellar of a guy who cared much about wine...The collection is so random. It’s a lot of individual bottles, the sign of a guy who received a lot of bottles of wine as a gift.’”

The moral of the story? Billions of dollars don’t necessarily make you a great wine collector, just a rich one. And, in the case of Madoff, a jailed one. I’ll toast to that...with a mini-bottle of booze from his now-sold collection.


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