An Asian foodie spent $36,750 at a New York auction to have dinner for four with famed chef Ferran Adria.
The dizzy tab contributed to a US$913,605 sale at Sotheby’s that was based on the revolutionary Catalan cook’s stellar wine collection, which he sold along with kitchen gear, two years after shuttering his Michelin three-star elBulli restaurant near Barcelona.
A first half of the auction was held at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong at the start of April, raising about US$1.8 million, including just over US$28,000 for a similar dinner-for-four with Adria at Tickets, the restaurant of Adria’s brother Albert. Adria is using the proceeds to set up his new foundation, housed in the former elBulli restaurant.
Sotheby’s did not name the winner of the dinner auction, which had been estimated to be worth just US$5,000, but said it was a private buyer from Asia.
The same went for the purchaser of four bottles of 2004 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, a Burgundy that sold for US$52,062, almost double the high pre-sale estimate of US$27,500.
Of the top 10 sales, seven were won by bidders from Asia, two by private Latin American collectors and one by a US trade buyer. Sotheby’s said 93 per cent of lots on Friday went under the hammer, with the total auction haul well above the pre-sale estimate of US$768,250.
The total from the two sales on either side of the world was US$2.7 million, compared with a pre-sale estimate of US$1.95 million.
Adria, who joined the kitchen staff of elBulli in 1984, has since the late 1990s rocked the world of gastronomy by using science to deconstruct and rebuild food in what has been termed “molecular cuisine”.
His foundation, set to open in 2015 on the site of the former restaurant in Cala Montjoi, north of Barcelona, will host a large “experimental centre. We want people to understand what avant-garde cuisine is,” he explained.
Adria describes his foundation as “a little Cirque de Soleil, a little Dali museum, a little medialab”.
The auction featured thousands of wine bottles, collected over the years by Adria, whose restaurant was ranked the world’s best a record five times by Britain’s Restaurant magazine.
Also on offer on Friday were a kitchen jacket used and signed by the chef, menus, wine lists, dishes and a knife collection.
“With these sales the dream becomes a reality,” Adria said after the auction.
Sotheby’s head of international wine sales, Serena Sutcliffe, said buyers had been able to get “a piece of the elBulli legend”.
“Ferran Adria is widely acknowledged as the world’s greatest chef and we are delighted to have raised over $2.7 million to help him realise his vision of culinary creativity and investigation at the elBulli Foundation,” she said.