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America’s Cup: Converting Whine to Wine

Published on March 30th, 2016

When the 52-year-old Bill Koch won the 1992 America’s Cup, he was not impressed with an event that he estimated had about $600 million spent by the challengers and defenders as they prepared for the 1992 event. “It’s gotten obscene and wasteful,” said Koch.

Thinking that a $20 million budget would cover the cost, Koch soon succumbed to the competitive treadmill. With the eventual Italian challenger Il Moro di Venezia syndicate building five boats, Koch built four. Koch’s victory, he estimated, rose to $64 million.

With Larry Ellison spending north of $200 million on his 2013 defense, how else does a billionaire “responsibly” spend his money? As passionate as Koch was with his sailing, he also has a thing for wine. Now, after almost 40 years of accumulating a cellar that would be the envy of any collector, Koch realizes he has too much.

“I once did the calculation of how long I would have to live to drink all those 43,000 bottles and I’m afraid I’m not going to live that long,” Koch notes. “I’d have to have a wine party every day for the rest of my life.”

Enlisting Sotheby’s to auction off about half of his wine collection, there will be more than 60 lots of Petrus including magnums, double magnums, jeroboams and imperials as well as more than 60 lots of Château d’Yquem wines from vintages in the 1920s, ’40s, and ’60s.

The proceeds from the May 19-21 sale should net between $10.5 million and $15 million, or about half of what Groupama Team France estimates to be their budget for the 2017 America’s Cup. Better not tell the French challenger what kind of party they are missing…

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