Cuba cigar auction rakes in $1.1 million
Six luxury humidors, packed with Montecristo and other prestigious cigars, have fetched more than $1.1 million at the gala closing the 16th annual Cigar Festival in Havana - by Luis Acosta
The humidors were packed with Montecristo and other prestigious cigars along with a painting by Cuban artist Zaida del Rio.
As in past years, the $1,102,210 in proceeds went to Cuba's public health services, said Habanos SA, the exclusive distributor of Cuban cigars in 150 countries.
The festival, which featured tours of tobacco plantations and cigar factories, culminated with a gala dinner and auction that began Friday and lasted into the early morning hours Saturday.
British singer Tom Jones performed at the event, held on the PABEXPO fairgrounds on the outskirts of Havana.
Habanos SA is a joint venture between Cuban state company Cubatabaco and the Franco-Spanish Altadis that was bought in 2008 by the British Imperial Tobacco Group.
As the festival opened on Monday, Habanos SA reported that Cuban cigar sales were up eight percent in 2013, reaching $447 million, with strongest market gains in China.
Tobacco is one of Cuba's top exports, behind nickel and biotech products.