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Photo belongs to CNN.com
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By Curtis Tate
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By Jake Lee
A trio of wine auctions kick off tonight in Hong Kong with Chinese collectors showing few signs that a crackdown by Beijing on luxury buying is denting their thirst for the world’s top bottles — especially if they’re from Burgundy.
Zachys Asia leads the pack with an evening sale Thursday followed by a day-time auction Saturday. Acker Merrall & Condit starts a two-day sale on Friday evening, while Sotheby’sBID +0.65% holds an all-day auction Saturday.
Over the past years, buyers in Asia have come to dominate the global market thanks to wealthy China-based clients turning to the wine-trading hub of Hong Kong, which abolished wine duties in 2008. However, one recent headwind that has taken some of the heat out of the market has been Beijing’s year-long antigraft drive aimed partially at cutting down on business gifts.
Prices of Bordeaux – think Château Lafite Rothschild and Château Petrus – have dipped, especially on recent vintages, and it’s now Burgundy that is the most sought-after region, with the top producers commanding even record prices.
By far the most illustrious is Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Burgundy’s most famous producer, while other names like Henri Jayer and Armand Rousseau are commanding hefty prices, too. The city’s retailers and restaurants have also caught onto the trend, hosting wine dinners and tastings that are frequently priced in the hundreds of U.S. dollars and often held when wine makers visit.
“Bordeaux is pretty stable, and there’s some renewed energy in older vintages,” said John Kapon, chief executive and auctioneer at Acker Merrall, the world’s biggest wine auction house. But “people are willing to spend more on Burgundy given small productions and minute quantities. People realize how rare they are when they come up.”
He added that almost half the sale is made up of Burgundy, which is far higher than usual.
Bordeaux bottles still dominate auction sales overall, though, since their names are typically far more recognizable than other regions, and they benefit from bigger production and a simple rating system that denotes quality. Bordeaux made up 64% of sales in Sotheby’s Hong Kong auction rooms last year, compared to just 25% for Burgundy.
And while prices for top Burgundies are rising, the shift away from Bordeaux has taken its toll on the industry’s benchmark price index, the Liv-ex Fine Wine 100 index, which has fallen for a third year in 2013, down 1.4%. It tracks the moves of the 100 most sought-after wines, with the majority of them Bordeaux.
Some of the biggest falls have been in the youngest wines, especially the vintages of 2009 and 2010 from Bordeaux that were priced high because of exceptionally good growing conditions, but won’t be at peak drinking condition for decades.
“Once you get into younger wines, there is less enthusiasm for that,” said Robert Sleigh, Sotheby’s head of wine in Asia. Still, “Bordeaux makes up the core of the wine business and is making some of best wine ever made and there’s strong demand for it.”
Image via Architizer
Though it was demolished over two decades ago, Hong Kong’s Kowloon Walled City is still emblematic of the kind of intense overcrowding usually seen in dystopian science fiction, so much so that to this day it inspires post-mortem maps, renderings in Lego, even Japanese arcades. At the height of its growth, the largely unsupervised encampment that the South China Morning Post once called “a lawless vacuum” where brothels and gambling hubs “operated with impunity” once crammed some 50,000 residents—all of them essentially squatters—into an area of about 290,000 square feet. Just before the complex was razed, a Japanese team created an amazingly detailed cross-section, recently turned up by Architizer and pictured in full below. Care to join us on a deep dive into architectural anarchy?
Image via Architizer
↑The complex comprised some 500 buildings, affording an average of about 40 square feet per person. In the center bloc pictured above, a resident tears down an interior wall with a pickaxe, while some kind of industrial kitchen operates in a room below.
Image via Architizer
↑Trash collects in-between buildings and electrical wiring snakes down the sides. In an alleyway, a man uses an umbrella to shield himself from a dripping water pipe.
Image via Architizer
↑The government managed to evict the residents of the Walled City in 1992, and it was leveled in 1993. The spot where it used to stand, not too far from Zaha Hadid’s Innovation Tower, has been turned into a park. Above, construction begins on the rooftop, in the middle of a panoply of T.V. antennae.
Image via Architizer
· Illuminating Illustrations Of Kowloon Walled City Challenge Its Reputation As Unlivable Slum [Architizer]
· All Kowloon Walled City coverage [Curbed National]
An Indonesian domestic helper who claims she worked for the same employer accused of torturing Erwiana Sulistyaningsih revealed yesterday that she suffered similar beatings and death threats in 2010.
Sulistyaningsih, 23, who alleges she suffered months of torture in Hong Kong, is recovering in hospital in Sragen, on the main Indonesian island of Java, after returning home last week.
Her wounds are healing but she continues to suffer from headaches caused by blows to the head, according to Karsiwen, spokeswoman for the Association of Indonesian Migrant Workers who is handling the case in Indonesia.
Sulistyaningsih has become angry, saying, “I want to go back to Hong Kong and beat back my employer,” said Karsiwen, adding that Sulistyaningsih has recently appointed lawyers in both Indonesia and Hong Kong.
At a “Justice for Erwiana” protest outside the Indonesian consulate in Causeway Bay yesterday, a 28-year-old Indonesian woman who gave only her nickname, Bunga, said she experienced 10 months of beatings working for the same female employer who allegedly abused Sulistyaningsih.
“One time the employer got so angry she dragged me onto the balcony and threatened to throw me off of it. She made me beg for my life,” Bunga said.
“I told her that she could beat me as much as she wanted but I went on my knees and begged her not to kill me because I had a son.”
Bunga said she was never allowed to go outside the employer’s apartment in Tseung Kwan O, and when the family went out, Bunga was locked inside.
“The woman threatened to pay the Indonesian police money to kill my entire family if I talked to others about the beatings,” she said.
The employer is in her forties and doesn’t work, with two teenage children and a husband who is rarely at home because he works elsewhere, Bunga and campaign organisers claimed.
Bunga said she was saved when her family in Indonesia told her agency in Hong Kong to help her.
“But the agency convinced me not press charges and got me a job with another employer instead. I was too scared to go to police. I’m speaking out now because I feel so sad I didn’t do anything to help Erwiana,” said Bunga, adding that she and Sulistyaningsih did not use the same agency.
Last night, “Justice for Erwiana” campaign organizers told the South China Morning Post that Sulistyaningsih was not allowed to leave the home and that before her boss allowed her to return to Indonesia, the woman threatened to “kill her family” if she told of her treatment.
Hong Kong police have launched an investigation and classified Sulistyaningsih’s case as wounding. The city’s police officers have visited the employer’s home, as have officials from the Indonesian consulate. A police spokeswoman said today that no arrests have yet been made.
Bunga said she would consider cooperating with police in the investigation.
Hong Kong is home to some of the most expensive properties in the world and some analysts are warning its real estate market is overheated.
Buying a home has become even less affordable than before the last property bubble burst in 1997.
Investment from mainland China is helping to fuel the rise and there are concerns Hong Kong is in danger of another property crash.
The BBC’s chief business correspondent Linda Yueh examines whether measures by the authorities to cool the market are working. Click here to view a video report
An alleged beating of an Indonesian domestic helper by her Hong Kong employer has drawn new attention to the treatment of the hundreds of thousands of such workers in the territory, raising questions about whether the authorities are vigilant in preventing abuses in such cases.
The helper, Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, returned to Indonesia on Jan. 10, traveling through Hong Kong International Airport with the assistance of a friend because of cuts and burns on much of her body, according to a report in the South China Morning Post. The newspaper said she was now in critical condition at an Indonesian hospital.
Ms. Sulistyaningsih, who had worked for eight months for a family in Tseung Kwan O in the New Territories, was apparently given 100 Hong Kong dollars, about $13, by her employers before her departure and told not to talk to any Indonesians before boarding the plane, according to the South China Morning Post.
Hong Kong is home to an estimated 300,000 domestic workers, and they provide valuable services like child care to the city’s busy workforce. Amnesty International said in a report last year that Indonesian workers are particularly prone to abuses, as employment agencies lure them with promises of high pay, demand high fees to secure work for the helpers and then often withhold their documents to prevent them from leaving the territory.
“They are using deception and coercion to recruit Indonesian migrants and to compel them to work in situations which violate their human and labor rights,” said the November 2013 report. It said Hong Kong employers then “frequently subject migrant domestic workers to serious human rights violations in Hong Kong, including physical or verbal abuse.”
The treatment of such workers attracted intense media attention last fall when a Hong Kong couple was sentenced to three to five years in prison for essentially jailing their Indonesian helper for two years and torturing her by beating her with bicycle chains, a hot iron and a paper cutter. The woman was also allegedly tied to a chair for five days during the family’s vacation, and left without food and water.
In the latest case, the woman’s employment agency filed a report with the Hong Kong police alerting them to the alleged mistreatment — after she had left the territory.
“On the afternoon of Jan. 12, the police received notice from an domestic helper recruitment firm, that a foreign domestic helper was suspected of having been tortured by her employer,” said a police statement.
The woman apparently paid 18,000 Hong Kong dollars, or $2,300, to secure her job through an employment agency, even though such agencies are only allowed to charge 401 Hong Kong dollars under Hong Kong law, Robert Godden, an official with Amnesty International, told the South China Morning Post.
In its November report, Amnesty faulted the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the Indonesian government for not doing enough to prevent such abuses.
“The Indonesian and Hong Kong SAR governments have not complied with their international obligations to prevent and suppress trafficking and the use of forced labor,” the report said. “They have failed to properly monitor, investigate and sanction individuals and organizations which are violating domestic legislation in their respective territories.”