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Staged appropriately on the anniversary of the 1933 Repeal Act, the sale focused mainly on fine wines but included a 100-lot section of whiskies, cognac, armagnac, calvados and chartreuse that fetched a total of $304,800 (£157,765).

Such sales had been outlawed under the Prohibition laws of 1920, sections of which relating to the public auctioning of liquor were never repealed until now.

New York wine sales have been witnessing strong demand thanks to the rampant rise of corporate bonuses and increased interest from Asia, and the auctioneers are hoping that selling spirits in the Big Apple will attract similar international competition.

For this first New York sale, Christie’s were able to source consignments from some of the top collections in the US.

The top single-bottle spirit lot was a 1926 Macallan, which sold for $54,000 (£27,950) and became the most expensive bottle of scotch ever sold by Christie’s anywhere in the world. Bottled in 1986 after spending 60 years in a wooden cask, it sold over its $20,000 to $30,000 estimate to a New York private collector.

Head of wine sales at Christie’s Americas Richard Brierley said: “We are delighted that our decision to hold the first spirits auction in New York since Prohibition has been met with such an enthusiastic response from bidders across the world.”

Sotheby’s say they have no plans to sell spirits in New York.

By Alex Capon