Baker, Ahles & Kaskovich

McClendon wines may fetch millions at auction

The McClendon family is selling off Aubrey McClendon’s wine collection valued at up to $7.6 million.
The McClendon family is selling off Aubrey McClendon’s wine collection valued at up to $7.6 million. Courtesy photo

As the charismatic leader of Chesapeake Energy, the late Aubrey McClendon collected fine bottles of wine along with oil and gas leases.

Before McClendon was forced out of Chesapeake in 2013, it was not unusual for the flamboyant businessman to pop a cork in celebration with business associates, friends and family.

Now the family thinks it’s time to auction off the rest of his wine: more than 4,600 bottles valued at up to $7.6 million.

The collection, which includes large format bottles (those massive things that are sometimes the equivalent of eight bottles of wine) of Le Pin, Pétrus and Mouton Rothschild.

“I think it’s pretty incredible, when you look at the wines he has. He really honed in on the best stuff and he bought large quantities of it,” said Ben Nelson, president of Hart Davis Hart Wine Co. in Chicago, the auction house conducting the sale. “These are the top lines from the ’80s, ’90s and early 2000s.”

Bidding opened online Thursday, with the event to be held Sept. 17 at TRU restaurant in Chicago. The wine is divided into 1,058 lots, or groups.

McClendon died after slamming his SUV into a concrete embankment outside Oklahoma City in March, one day after being indicted by the federal government on bid-rigging charges.

McClendon’s finances are apparently in disarray. Duke University filed an almost $10 million claim against the estate, and one creditor’s lawyer says McClendon died owing so much money that the estate is insolvent, according to The Wall Street Journal. McClendon’s attorneys said that isn’t so.

Sources with knowledge of wine auctions said such a single-collector sale is not unprecedented. During a three-day sale by Sotheby’s in New York this year, billionaire Bill Koch took in $21.9 million, according to Wine Spectator.

Hart Davis said McClendon, at the peak of his spending, was one of the most important wine buyers in the world. His philosophy was “the larger the bottle, the better for the sharing.”

If he wanted to celebrate after a business meeting or on a trip with friends, McClendon would open “a big bottle, and everyone would sign it and he kept those bottles” as mementos, Nelson said.

McClendon took great care in buying and handling the collection, which was stored in pristine, custom-built cellars at his homes in Oklahoma City, Minnesota and other locales.

McClendon bought the best Bordeaux wines in the most famous vintages and in large quantities, according to Hart Davis. The auction features $1 million to $1.6 million worth of wines from the 2000 vintage.

There are also 80 lots of Pétrus, estimated at $1.2 million to $1.8 million; 46 lots of Le Pin, estimated at $632,000, and 558 lots from First Growth Châteux, estimated at $3.6 million.

In 2009, McClendon collection has been up for sale. He sold $2.2 million worth of wine, according to the Journal.

Bodycote moving to Haltom City

An industrial facility being displaced by the city of Fort Worth to make way for a new multipurpose arena will relocate to Haltom City.

Bodycote announced that will move its thermal processing plant, which does work for area aerospace companies, to an existing building at 4008 Clay Ave. Haltom City Mayor David Averitt and council members hosted a ceremony for the company Friday.

In April, the Fort Worth City Council approved a deal to spend $7 million to buy 2.57 acres from the British company to make way for a planned $450 million arena just south of the Will Rogers complex. Under terms of the sale, Bodycote must be off the property, 2005 Montgomery St., by Dec. 31, and the city will pay to relocate its equipment.

Bodycote calls itself the world’s largest provider of thermal processing services, with more than 170 facilities in 21 countries. It improves properties of metal and alloy components used in many industries including aerospace, automotive and oil and gas. Locally, customers include Lockheed Martin, Bell Helicopter and Vought Aircraft.

Bodycote has been operating on Montgomery Street since 1996. About 50 workers at the Fort Worth facility will move to the new Haltom City location, said Haza Huston, marketing manager. The company has another thermal processing plant in Arlington.

Construction on the arena is expected to begin next year.

Andrea Ahles: 817-390-7631, @Sky_Talk

Max B. Baker: 817-390-7714, @MaxbakerBB

Steve Kaskovich: 817-390-7773, @stevekasko