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Jan 28, 2011

In a sure sign China’s growing prosperity is reaching bubble proportions, bidders have paid top dollar in Hong Kong for part of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s vast wine collection.

Lord Lloyd Webber, who made his fortune through musicals such as Cats and Phantom of the Opera, put up 746 lots, mainly cases but also some individual bottles, because he no longer had room for them.

The sale, held by Sotheby's at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, fetched a total of £3.5 million ($7.4 million) and featured nearly 9000 bottles of classic French wines, including what experts regard as the finest white Burgundies ever for sale in the region.

The amount was well above the estimated £2.6 million and was attended by a capacity crowd as well as telephone and internet bidders.

Lord Lloyd Webber began accumulating select bottles when he was a teenager and would have fine vintages delivered to him at Westminster School, where he was a student.

The most expensive bottle overall was a magnum 1990 Domaine de la Romanée Conti, which sold for £17,460, while the priciest standard-sized bottle was a 2002 Domaine de la Romanée Conti – three bottles of which sold for £8400 each.

The most expensive lot in the sale was a case of Chateau Petrus 1982, which sold for £48,500, or more than £4000 a bottle. The Petrus, a Bordeaux wine, is consistently among the world’s most expensive wines.

In May 2007, Sotheby’s held a two-day sale in London of 18,000 bottles from Lord Lloyd Webber’s collection, which fetched £3.7 million. The auction created a new world auction record for any wine sale ever held.

Last year a 1869 bottle of Chateau Latife was sold in Hong Kong for £151,250 – making it the most expensive standard-sized bottle ever sold at auction.