Thursday, October 27, 2005

Maisonette Auction

I wanted to post a quick write up on the Maisonette Auction that was run by Great American. The link to the online inventory is probably gone and they are just now finishing up the removal of items from 6th Street Friday. Here are my impressions in random order.

  • I walked through last Thursday for the inspection. It was very sad and looked like someone had pulled a fire alarm and all the patrons had left with their plates on the table and wine glasses on the bar. Over the last 25 years I had visited about once a year and had many great memories. My favorite story is that about 15 years ago I had a Christmas lunch there with 12 buddies. We started at noon and about four o'clock one of the owners, a friend of ours, came out while we were all enjoying our cigars and Brandy, and offered us a round of drinks, IF we left in the next 15 minutes. I have been told that after that day cigar smoking was banned in the main dining room!
  • It was fun poking around the kitchens and back storage areas in the basement behind La Normandie. The "wine cellar" was a walled-off storage area with cold refridgeration and plywood bins. The 1924 Petrus magnum had a low shoulder fill and was questionable. (It sold for $3,250.)
  • I registered online to bid as I had to open the store. On Friday they auctioned the kitchen items, place settings, glasses, menus and office equipment. On Saturday more menus, glasses, art work and the wine collection were auctioned off. As the bidding progressed it became clear that there would be no deals unless you wanted some old computers. There seemed to be a retail crowd that didn't mind paying full value plus at times a premium for the Maisonette provenance.
  • The menus went quickly for about $200. Wine stands for $125. Table candle lights for $125. Copper pails for $600. Hamilton Beach mixers for more than $100. The bar itself went for about $2,000. Six copper skillets went for $2,200. Bottom feeders were not welcome!
  • I picked up several wine glasses which I plan to resell as Christmas gifts. At the auction, sets of 12 went for $15 to $18.
  • The name went for $35,000 and there is much discussion among the Cincinnati wine and restaurant crowd about who bought it. I think there are only two people in town who could legitimately open up a "new" Maisonette. However, I loved Borgman's cartoon showing a fat chef with a cigarette in his mouth outside his restaurant, "Tubby's Maisonette Bar and Grill". [Hot damn, I just figured out how to upload a picture! This could be dangerous!]
  • The oil paintings went for $15 to $35K. The faux library books in the bar went for about $6 or $7K. And this is all before the 10% buyers premium!
  • I was interested in the wine if it had gone for 20 to 30 percent of retail, but most seemed to go for 80 percent or more. Three half bottles of Chateau d'Yquem 1994 went for $150, plus BP. I can buy that wine at wholesale for about $80. Chateau Montrose 1990 magnums went for $650. Lafite-Rothschild 1986 magnums went for $700. Cheval Blanc 1990 went for $600. 2001 Staglin Cab - $75. 1996 DRC Richenbourg - $400. 2000 Phelps Isignia - $80. 2000 Opus One - $115. 2000 Cain Concepts - $40. And on and on. I finally logged out and pulled a bottle of 2002 J K Carriere Pinot and went back to work.
  • We will all miss the Mais' and had assumed it would always be there. On Sunday my son told me that he had never been. He was right. We had never taken him or the other kids. We used the excuse that we were waiting for their table manners to improve, but it is truly sad that the next generation will not get to enjoy a dessert of white chocolate mousse with a huge chunk of dark chocolate hidden in the impossibly light mousse after a three course meal with impeccable service. It is the end of a three or four generation tradition, a rite of passage, a shared experience. It is very sad.


Anonymous jerry said...

Thanks Jens for this story. Although I lived in Cincinnati in the 1980s and 90s, I never went to the Maisonette.

2:45 PM  
Blogger jens at cincinnati wine said...

Thanks, and I love your "Wine Waves" blog! And now I finally figured out how to easily post pictures although I doubt I will be able to match your great bottle shots!


2:54 PM  
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