Tuesday, 5 February 2013

The Henry Tang Collection up for Grabs

Tang's bottles are in pristine condition
Breaking news folks -- former financial secretary and chief secretary and failed chief executive candidate Henry Tang Ying-yen is putting part of his wine collection up for auction.

Christie's made the announcement today, calling it "The Henry Tang Collection" that will be sold over two days on March 15 and 16.

He told the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday that the sale was for him to cull his collection and that he only had time to do this now, and boasted that the thousands of bottles up for grabs were "only a very small portion of my vast collection of wine," he was quoted as saying.

Tang even added the whole of his collection, housed in cellars around the world, could not be consumed over "multiple lifetimes", he said.

"I realized I have far too much wine, and I would never be able to consume it in a lifetime," he said of his collection in a Christie's news release. "So I have decided to present a selection of wines from my collection at auction, and provide wine lovers around the world with the opportunity to purchase great bottles and enjoy the journey. After all, the best wines are those shared."

The Christie's sale is divided into 810 lots, estimated in excess of HK$29 million.

According to the auction house, Tang's love of wine began over 30 years ago and he "spent half his life visiting vineyards all over the world and searching for ideal bottles. One of Tang's earliest and greatest loves is Burgundy and he has traveled back to the revered region many times in the past decade."

Will Burgundy fans come out to buy?
We wonder though, who in Hong Kong will buy these wines?

Granted he did amass an amazing collection, but it is tainted with his scandal of allegedly building an illegal basement in his Kowloon Tong home to house his thousands of wine bottles, along with a tasting room, fitness room and cinema.

In the end he had to fill the entire basement with cement, which is estimated to have taken 730 cubic metres of cement to fill, and as only five trucks could only access the site per day, it took up to two weeks and cost HK$300,000.

He even had the gall to blame the whole fiasco on his wife, who dutifully stood by his side and wept.

We are irked with his arrogant remark of having amassed so much wine that he can't even finish drinking it in a lifetime. When he was financial secretary, Tang halved the excise duty on wine to 40 percent in 2007, and the following year when he became chief secretary, Tang's successor John Tsang Chun-wah abolished the tax.

This explains why Tang went back and forth to Burgundy for about a decade, snapping up even more bottles of his favourite wines.

Still, we are curious as to why Tang is selling a fraction of his wine collection. It's not because he needs the money, or did he make a deal with his wife to sell some bottles so she could get some sparkling baubles as a reward for taking the political hit?

We'll be watching.

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