A crate containing 24 bottles of 47-year-old Kweichow Moutai sold for GBP1 million (RMB9 million) at Sotheby’s auction house in London on Friday. Sotheby’s estimated the world-renowned baijiu would sell for GBP200,000 to GBP450,000, according to CNN. However, 14 bidders drove the price up to the 1 million mark before an unnamed Asian buyer took home the bounty.
The crate, despite being nearly half a century old, contains the sunflower label which briefly replaced the trademark feitian or ‘Flying Fairy’ label for export in 1969. A spirit auction last month within China saw a single bottle of 1957 five-star Moutai sell for RMB1.15 million, as per Sina Finance. In 2017, a rare white porcelain bottle of exported 1957 ‘Golden Wheel’ Moutai sold at auction in Beijing for a jaw-dropping RMB2.53 million, according to Artron Auctions.
A single bottle of 1957 five-star Moutai sold for RMB1.15 million. Image via Sina Finance@Weibo
Moutai is one of China’s most valuable brands with a market cap exceeding China’s four biggest banks. In addition to buying stocks, stockpiling actual bottles of the spirit has become a popular investment. Despite Kweichow Moutai encouraging retailers to sell baseline ‘Flying Fairy’ edition for its suggested price of RMB1,499, Caixin reports that it often fetches RMB3,000 and up as holidays approach.
Naturally, the sought-after liquor is attractive to counterfeiters and Kweichow Moutai teamed up with Ant Financial in 2018 to create a blockchain anti-forgery system for its bottles. In January of that year, police in Guizhou, Moutai’s home province, destroyed more than 7,500 bottles of fake Moutai collected in raids over the previous two years, Xinhua reports.
Counterfeit Moutai seized last month in Nanning. Image via @凤凰网财经/Weibo
In August 2020, Guizhou police seized 27,000 bottles and arrested several suspects who had allegedly amassed illicit revenue totalling RMB41 million, according to China Daily.
[Cover image via @扭腰1村民/Weibo]