15,000 bottles of fine French wine are expected to raise more than HK$100 million for London Business School
In the midst of the pandemic, a former MBA student of London Business School was moved to help the educational establishment that had ‘changed his life’.
Like other institutions, the world-class London school — which offers business degrees at post-graduate level — was having to adapt to new ways of teaching, recruiting, research and operation.
‘The sacrifices made by the faculty and staff, led by Dean François Ortalo-Magné, showed an impressive level of commitment to the school,’ explains the former student, now a successful entrepreneur in Asia.
Having participated in a fundraising campaign led by the previous dean, his own teacher Professor Sir Andrew Likierman, he offered to be part of a new initiative aimed at supporting the continued development of alumni after leaving the school, throughout their life’s journey.
‘LBS is an incredibly important institution. The fact that the collector has chosen to support it is a sign of how meaningful it has been to his career’— Jussi Pylkäanen
In doing so, he was mindful of the Chinese proverb: ‘When you drink water, think of the source.’
In this case, however, the proverb has a little more depth and sparkle to it than usual because the entrepreneur in question has proved adept at turning that water into wine.
For more than 25 years, he has been collecting top vintages with the help of the storied London merchants Berry Bros. & Rudd — ‘tasting, listening, learning and sharing [his] purchases with friends and family’ and ‘discovering the passion, the patience and the labour of love that makes such fine wines possible’.
Pondering the comparable labour of love undertaken by the LBS faculty and staff at a time of great challenge, the collector was prompted to offer a portion of his cellar at auction — and so allow the school to continue its mission of having a ‘profound impact on the way the world does business’.
The result is The Visionary’s Spectacular Cellar — Sold to further the impact of London Business School, which will be offered across two sales: one live on 21 May at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre; the other online from 23 May.
Happily for the London Business School, this is no ordinary wine collection. It’s the largest single-owner wine sale that Christie’s has ever held, comprising 15,000 bottles that together have a total low estimate of more than HK$100 million (US$12.9 million) — the highest ever for this category in the history of the auction house.
Divided between 800 lots in the live auction and 550 online, the collection features more than 8,400 bottles of Burgundy — the collector’s primary focus — as well as 460 bottles of DRC and 95 bottles of Georges/Henri Jayer.
Additional highlights include 430 bottles of Leroy, 400 bottles of Rousseau, 1,400 bottles of First Growth Bordeaux and 1,000 bottles of iconic right-bank wines such as Pétrus, Le Pin and Cheval Blanc.
Not forgetting the impressive quantities of White Burgundy from leading names such as Coche Dury, d’Auvenay, Lafon and Leflaive, and the 1,000 bottles of outstanding Champagne from Dom Perignon, Salon, Louis Roederer Cristal, Bollinger, Pol Roger and Taittinger.
‘It’s not just a hit list of the greatest names,’ says Adam Bilbey, Christie’s Global Head of Wines & Spirits, who has advised the collector for a decade and counts him as a close personal friend.
‘It also highlights producers that were unheralded at the time, and which the collector began following on the advice of trusted experts and winemakers — producers such as Rossignol Trapet, Domaine de la Vougeraie, Bruno Clavelier, and Jean Claude Bachelet.’
‘The scale and breadth from different regions are truly impressive, and where possible, everything was bought on release,’ adds Bilbey. ‘Straight from the cellar, straight into the climate-controlled cellar: it doesn’t get better than that.’
London Business School was founded in 1964, and now has an alumni network of 45,000 business professionals working in more 156 countries.
One of them is Jussi Pylkkänen, President at Christie’s and the company’s lead auctioneer, who joined the LBS Senior Executive Programme in 2006 when he became President of Christie’s Europe.
‘It’s been remarkable how useful that period has been for me personally,’ he says. ‘It’s an incredibly important institution, and the fact that the collector has chosen to support it is a sign of how meaningful it has been to his career and perhaps to his vision of the way in which education can pay a huge part in the development of all of us.’
Dean Ortalo-Magné joined the school in 2017, and is leading a strategy focused on academic research, educational innovation and alumni engagement, striving for gender parity and greater socio-economic and ethnic diversity.
‘This generous gift will enable us to invest in research, technological platforms, learning experiences and opportunities to connect,’ he says — ‘to transform our ability to “walk the lifelong journey” with everyone who studies with us.’