UPDATE: The World’s Largest White Truffle sold for $61,250 at Sotheby’s on Saturday morning.
Truffle lovers with a little extra dough may want to head to Sotheby’s on Saturday.
Gabriel Balestra stood at the front of Sotheby’s Auction House Friday morning, swaddling a precious new arrival in a soft white cloth: a white truffle.
Having arrived just a few days prior on a special flight from Italy to JFK, this truffle demanded care and attention before its moment in the spotlight. The auction for the largest white truffle ever on record will start at 9:15 a.m. Saturday, with an opening bid of $50,000.
The 4.16 pound tuber was discovered in central Italy last week by Balestra’s company Sabatino Truffles. A one-year-old dog named Ray, who the Balestra family has been training to sniff for truffles along with her older canine colleagues, found the massive treat. The pup is said to be feasting on steaks in Umbria right now, an appropriate reward for such a valuable find.
Truffle hunting season takes place in Northern Italy from September to December, with most truffles discovered by hunting dogs who can find the pungent scents underground.
The current existing record holder for largest white truffle is 2.87 pounds, which was sold to Macau billionaire Stanley Ho in 2010, for $417,200. That’s a big plate of tagliatelle.
Sabatino turned down a $1 million offer from buyers in China for the valuable fungus, having already decided they wanted to donate the proceeds of their find.
“We wanted to give back to New York what New York gave to us when we started fifteen years ago,” Gabriel Balestra of Sabatino said Friday morning at Sotheby’s.
Sabatino has been active on the New York charity scene, donating a pound of truffles to a recent City Harvest auction to raise $26,000 for a meal cooked by Michael White.
Up for the challenge of eating this gargantuan fungus? Get your chef ready. Belestra says the truffle will be good for about another week, before it starts to dehydrate and lose some of its flavor. Proceeds from the auction will be donated to Citymeals-on-Wheels and Children’s Glaucoma Foundation.
Sotheby’s, which doesn’t usually auction perishables other than wine, cannot confirm how much the truffle will probably sell for, but as long as there are more than two bidders (there most likely will be, as this is a “statement piece” — and it smells incredible), the price will be a bit more than your average tuber.
Do we hear two million?