HONG KONG, British composer Andrew Lloyd Webber’s multi-million dollar wine collection goes under the hammer in Hong Kong on Saturday, one of several weekend sales in the fast-growing auction hub. In all, 747 lots from Lloyd Webber will be sold off at the Mandarin Oriental hotel, including 21 cases of Chateau Mouton Rothschild 2005 and four cases of Chateau Haut Brion 1989. After realizing he couldn’t drink his vast wine collection himself, the “Cats” and “Phantom of the Opera” composer decided that Asia’s ever-growing army of ultra-wealthy connoisseurs might fancy buying some of it. His collection is expected to fetch more than US$4 million at the Sotheby’s auction, which sold US$52 million worth of fine wine in the former British colony last year — more than twice as much as their wine sales in London and three times as much as New York. Wine auctioneer Acker Merrall & Condit is hosting a US$9 million wine sale on Saturday and Sunday, while a separate auction could see a 19th century stamp set emblazoned with Queen Victoria’s face rake in US$1.5 million. “This exceedingly rare block of four is unique in the world and has already seen tremendous interest from worldwide collectors”, organizers said. Hong Kong has emerged as the world’s third-largest auction center after New York and London, thanks in large part to China’s rapidly growing number of millionaires. Mainland Chinese are regular buyers of the top lots at sales of art, jewellery and wine and Hong Kong has positioned itself as a wine hub for Asia as well as the gateway to China’s vast market. Collectors come from across the region, including Taiwan, Singapore and Indonesia, “although at the top end there are some really heavy hitters from mainland China,” said Serena Sutcliffe, Sotheby’s worldwide head of wine. “People are buying all sorts of luxury brands here,” she said. Lloyd Webber’s collection features a large supply of top-end French wines, a huge plus since they are popular among Asian and particularly Chinese collectors due to their “proven reputation,” Sutcliffe added.