A first-generation American born of a Lithuanian mother and a Ukrainian father, Irwin Kotovsky was proud of his immigrant heritage and developed an interest in wine while travelling in Europe. Representing his Pittsburgh-based lighting business, he would take monthly trips to Paris, visiting restaurants such as Maxim’s; and after his marriage in 1981, his appreciation of wine flourished into a passion for collecting. For him, wine was about entertainment and enjoyment.
Over his lifetime he assembled a spectacular cellar, replete with the world’s most sought-after bottles. His broad collection was first offered in April 2023, and now The Private Cellar of Irwin Kotovsky Online: Part II (8-21 June) and The Private Spirits Collection of Irwin Kotovsky Online: Part III (8-22 June) are to be offered online.
Kotovsky adored Bordeaux, and during his numerous trips to the wine region he built up a strong selection of first growths from vintages spanning the 1960s to the 1980s, as well as Petrus from 1970, 1976 and 1983. Château La Lagune was a favourite of his, and he also collected the region’s sweet wines, focusing on Château d’Yquem — a wine that features extensively in Christie’s June online sale.
Kotovsky loved to share wines and spirits with friends and clients, and was known for his generosity. He would give loved ones a vintage bottle to celebrate the year of their birth or an anniversary. He also enjoyed champagne and would start every dinner with a fine bottle of fizz, whether sitting in his regular spot at Il Cielo in Beverly Hills or La Grenouille in New York.
The collection is packed with rare champagnes from top producers. Krug, Salon and Dom Pérignon are well represented in the sale, with vintages going back to 1947. Mature champagne offers the drinker a richness that only comes with bottle age.
Perhaps the most remarkable feature of the collection is the vast array of mature white Burgundy. Domaine Leflaive, widely considered the greatest producer of Chardonnay in the world, is offered in multiple vintages from the greatest sites. Mature vintages of Chevalier-Montrachet from 1996, 2000 and 2005 are other notable highlights.
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Part II of the sale offers an impressive range of these exceptional white Burgundies, mature Bordeaux and Sauternes. What sets Part III apart is its kaleidoscopic offering of rare spirits and liqueurs — the finest selection that Christie’s has presented since the sale of Cognac from the cellars of La Tour d’Argent more than a decade ago.
Both parts of the sale offer extremely rare bottles from the collection of a passionate enthusiast. All the wines and spirits in Irwin Kotovsky’s cellar were acquired with detailed research and attention to provenance and stored with great care in a temperature- and humidity-controlled environment.
The sale includes Cognac from 1811, ancient vintages of Laberdolive Armagnac, 19th-century Calvados and one of the largest private collections of Chartreuse ever to appear at Christie’s, making it an exceptional opportunity for connoisseurs of wine and spirits to broaden their own collections.