Blind Item: Do the $150,000 Barrel Roll

By Patrick Coffee 

Did you know that 2015 marks the 250th anniversary of the Hennessy brand? Neither did we. The company, however, has organized various high-profile stunts to ensure that the public remembers.

On the first of July, a ship faithfully designed to resemble the one that brought the Marquis de Lafayette into Manhattan in 1780 docked in New York Harbor as part of a larger effort to honor the role France played in the American Revolution. One of the first guests to greet the ship when it reached Yorktown, Virginia in June was Miles Young, who is both the soon-to-depart global CEO of Ogilvy & Mather and the president of the Friends of Hermione-Lafayette in America.

Among the distinctly French items on that boat were two barrels of limited edition, very expensive cognac. From the Hennessy summary :

“Only 250 barrels were created of the Hennessy 250 Collector Blend and just 15 of those will be made available globally, in this single barrel lot format.”

The two barrels were created “in tribute to those carried in 1780” with the plan that they would both be auctioned off in the United States–first in Mount Vernon, Virginia and then in New York.

We hear from a source close to the matter that the buyer of the first barrel was the founder and leader of one of North America’s hottest ad agencies, who paid more than $150,000 for the equivalent of “250 bottles of the 250 Collectors Blend” in an online auction. (This agency didn’t win the top honor in France last month, but it did go home with a considerable collection of new lions including two of the biggest prizes in the ad world.)

The executive in question may have gotten a deal: the auction listing estimates the fair market value of the entire package to be $215,000, but it appears to have sold for only $150,000. The barrel will now be “gifted to the purchaser as a treasured souvenir of the extraordinary milestone in the history of cognac,” and that purchaser may join fellow Hennessy enthusiasts like Tupac, T.I., Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg among the ranks of those who have gone to extra lengths to express their admiration for the brand.

In case you thought this purchase to be completely gratuitous:

“100% of the auction proceeds will go to Robin Hood, New York’s largest poverty-fighting organization.”

So it was all for charity, though Robin Hood will not receive a “three day/two night visit for two to the Hennessy estate in Cognac, France.”

Now someone has to drink that stuff.