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Fine wine investors looking to pawn collections, says high end dealer

Published:  26 June, 2014

A high end London pawnbroker says wealthy clients are increasingly looking to pawn their fine wine collections to access cash, and that for him, fine wine is the top-performing luxury asset.

David Sonnenthal, founder of New Bond Street Pawnbroking and star of Channel Four's Four Rooms programme, told "We do jewellery, art, watches and occasionally cars, but wine is the only thing that has held its money. It's quite amazing. Anything we've had to sell at auction has always made its money back."

Sonnenthal said that it takes over wealthy clients' accounts in bonded warehouses, often worth up to £1 million, and clients borrow several hundred thousand pounds against it for up to seven months. Wines pawned against have included vintage Dom Pérignon, Pétrus, and cases of 1999 Chateau Latour among others. "You name it, we've had it," Sonnenthal added.

Wealthy clients are increasingly looking to pawn their fine wine collections, says David Sonnenthal, founder of New Bond Street Pawnbrokers. Fine wine is the best performing asset class, says high end pawnbrokerDavid Sonnenthal, founder of New Bond Street Pawnbrokers, says wealthy clientele are increasingly looking to pawn their fine wine collections.

The firm has dealt in fine wines for the past six years, but is only now talking about it. "Wine, if you know what you're doing, is the best asset to invest in," he said.

Sonnenthal said the firm does not tend to lend against single bottles - the minimum value it considers is £1,000 to £2,000.

As for verifying a wine's condition and authenticity, Sonnenthal said the firm checks consignments at bonded warehouses and works closely with auction houses such as Bonhams.

The number of clients looking to pawn their wine collections is growing, Sonnenthal insists. "All of our clients are millionaires on paper, and wine is often an asset they've had for years. We keep it discreet, and we've got experience in the field."

He said rich clients have been affected by the financial crisis, and need ready access to cash rather than going to a bank.

"Our confidential service and many returning customers have taken us past the landmark figure of £50 million in short term loans made against luxury assets," he added.

Sonnenthal claims to have loaned money against Napoleon Bonaparte's personal possessions, items retrieved from the Titanic and a first edition copy of The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain, inscribed by Oscar Wilde. The business's biggest single deal to date was a £1 million loan made against a rare blue diamond.