The remains of bankrupt former Vitelco owner Jeffrey Prosser's St. Croix wine collection were sold at auction Saturday at Quality Foods in Castle Coakley, for a fraction of their market value in good condition.
Prosser purchased millions of dollars of wine with company money while owner of Innovative and Vitelco. He purchased $6 million in wine with one credit card, from one wholesaler, from 1999 to 2006, putting it on a company credit card in his name that was then paid off by New ICC – and ultimately by Vitelco and Innovative Cable TV ratepayers.
The wines sold Saturday were from Prosser's Estate Shoys residence. A court ordered inventory in 2008 found 980 bottles with an estimated worth of about $491,000. In 2011, a second inventory found 453 bottles worth $139,000 missing. A wine expert tested six bottles of the must durable wines among the remaining 527 bottles, initially valued at $212,000, and "testified that none of the wines located at the Shoys Estate were marketable or had any sale value," according to the bankruptcy court's opinion sanctioning Prosser for misconduct.
Auctioneer Stan Crooks from Auction America first took bulk bids for the entire collection, then took bits for individual lots, in case the individual lots fetched more cumulatively than the entire collection. A representative of Food Town supermarket bid $17,000 for the entire lot. That sum was exceeded during the second round of bidding, when more than half the bottles were sold, so the wine was sold in individual lots to a dozen separate bidders, purchasing for private collection and consumption.
Crooks said he would not have final sales totals for a few day. But the manner of bidding resulted in lower bids for subsequent lots, so the wine sold later in the auction fetched progressively less per bottle as bidding proceeded. So since more than half the bottles were sold when the $17,000 threshold was reached, the final tally must be between the $17,000 and twice that amount – $34,000 – and probably closer to the lower end of that range.
Among the nicer selections available Saturday were several lots of Chateau Petrus Pomerol, including several 1982 vintages nominally worth thousands per bottle, and a lot of 10 bottles of 1986 Chateau Y'Quem Sauternes, a highly prized white dessert wine that tends to age very well.