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Jamie Ritchie started buying wine by the case when he was 17 after he had an epiphany: ‘I realised that if I lived until I was 70 and drank a bottle of wine a day, then I’d drink over 20,000 bottles, so I thought I had better make that an enjoyable and interesting experience.’
Ritchie joined Sotheby’s in 1990, becoming global head in 2016, a role which requires him
to oversee worldwide sales of $65-$90 million per year. Who better to take on the role than Ritchie, who was responsible for launching Sotheby’s wine auctions in New York in 1994 and in Hong Kong in 2009, and recently launched Sotheby’s Wine, a retail store and online wine business.
In the meantime, he’s racked up a seriously impressive list of auction records. In particular, the sale of a jeroboam of Château Mouton Rothschild 1945 in 2007 for $310,700 made it the most expensive bottle of wine ever sold at auction.
In the same year, Sotheby’s also became the world’s leading auction house in wine on a global basis – a feat achieved in large part thanks to the staggering $22 million sale of wines from the cellar of William I Koch.
‘We’ve seen growth in California, Italy, Champagne, the Rhône, and the best of the best is very strong,’ he says. But for him it’s all about Burgundy. ‘The rarity of truly great Burgundy is certainly apparent: people are realising that there’s very little left of the great vintages.’