In early July, 5th Avenue reported that it had purchased ten of the 49 coveted Cohiba 50 Aniversario humidors. That isn’t a particularly spectacular headline in and of itself, but it’s the story behind the news that is so remarkable.
First the facts: there are only 50 of these humidors in the world, with one already spoken for. Humidor No. 1 went for 320,000 Euro at auction during the 2016 Festival del Habano.
The question of what was going to happen to the remaining 49 humidors was a particularly suspenseful one for Habanos importers. Normally, Habanos S.A. offers importers its new products at set wholesale prices to distribute in their respective countries. Not this time: importers were asked to offer a blind bid for the humidors, along with their hoped-for quantity (a maximum of 15 per importer). No one had the slightest idea what a realistic price for one of these rare humidors might be. There is simply no comparable product.
It was a real dilemma for the importers: in order to not come away empty-handed, they didn’t want to bid too low. But they were also anxious about overbidding and regretting having paid more than others. With nowhere to turn for solid advice, one can only assume that in the days and weeks leading up to the decision, there was a little smoke coming out of the importers’ ears – as well as from their cigars.
One exception: Germany requires price fixing for tobacco goods, so 5th Avenue determined a binding price of 199,000 Euro. Retailers could then place an order for this set price.
AND THE WINNER IS… Only eight of the 38 total Habanos importers snagged humidors. They are, in alphabetical order: Cubacigar Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg), 5th Avenue (Germany, Austria, Poland), Hunters & Frankau (Great Britain), Infifon 2-Top Cigars (Russia), Intertabak (Switzerland), Pacific Cigars (Southeast Asia), Tabacalera (Spain) und Vegas del Caribe (Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia). Everyone else came away empty-handed. When the “winners” were announced at an importers’ gathering in Havana on June 29, there were a number of stunned faces in the audience. Habanos S.A. has remained silent regarding how many humidors went to which of the importers, and at what price. Importers, too, were not forthcoming when asked how many humidors they received, at what price they were purchased and what they’ll sell for. Only 5th Avenue, which secured ten pieces of the total 49 pieces, publicly shared this information.
Delivery of the humidors is planned for October 2016, and Habanos S.A. now recommends a retail price of at least 200,000 Euro.