Cohiba 50th Anniversary Humidors Delivered Worldwide
When the gavel fell for the last time, the 50th Anniversary Cohiba Humidor carrying the number 001 had been sold for 320,000 euros ($352,505). Before the applause ended at the 18th annual Habanos Festival gala dinner auction in Havana in March, questions were already starting: How will Habanos S.A. sell the remaining 49 humidors in the series?
Habanos S.A. finally announced that the 49 humidors had been sold in a silent auction and have been delivered around the world to its distributors. The official press release said the final retail price was 200,000 euros ($220,193), and that more than 100 bids had been received from about half of those participating distributors. Many distributors decided not to participate in the auction because of local tax laws, or a fear that they might not be able to sell the humidor given its high price. After the Habanos announcement, a lid of silence clamped down on the process, and where the humidors ended up.
The Cohiba humidor, made by Elie Bleu, is a spectacular, one-of-a-kind object. The front doors are covered with 48 panels of gold foiled tobacco leaves. Inside, the cedar shelves are filled with 50 of the Cohiba 50 Aniversarios, a special edition Cohiba; the cigar is a 7 inch by 60 ring gauge, the largest cigar ever made by the Cuban cigar industry. The humidor is outfitted with humidity and temperature controls that can be tracked and set remotely through a phone app. And, it comes with a travel case, also inlaid with panels of gilded tobacco.
After discussions with a number of distributors around the world, some who outright refused to talk about the humidor auction (none who were willing to go on the record about the details), a clear picture has emerged for Cigar Aficionado about how the process was managed—and at least where some of the humidors ended up.
The silent auction was conducted via email between June 1 and June 7. The minimum bidding price started at 50,000 euros, and the distributors were told that no single distributor would receive more than 15 humidors. The distributors were told if not all the humidors sold in round one, then a second round would be held for only those distributors who had participated in round one, with the reserve price set at the lowest bid from the first round.
No second round was necessary. When Habanos announced the winners of the silent auction on June 28 at the Hotel Nacional in Havana, it said all the humidors had been sold in the first round. They announced the winning distributors, but did not reveal how many each one received.
According to Cigar Aficionado's sources, the bids ranged from 75,000 euros to 150,000 euros for the 49 humidors. The sources also said that Pacific Cigar Company, the Habanos S.A. distributor for the Asia Pacific region, received the maximum allotment of 15 humidors. However, a Pacific Cigar company spokesperson declined to reveal any details of its bid, or the number of humidors it received, saying the humidors it had received had already been sold. Others with winning bids included the Middle East, the United Kingdom and Belgium, but no confirmation was available on how many they got.
While it is possible you may still find one of these humidors for sale somewhere in the world, it is unlikely. Unless you're
one of the best customers in a distributor's region, you probably won't end up with one in your home or office. But by managing the auction so carefully, it would also seem that Habanos S.A. avoided a worst-case scenario of scaring off bidders because of the high price received for the humidor at the Habanos Festival gala dinner auction. One can only hope that some investor or speculator will put his humidor up for sale or up for auction in the future. That will be your next chance to own one.
This article first appeared in the July 19, 2016 issue of Cigar Insider.