Not-So-Vintage Wines

  • Sumo
Wine Rack Portugal

Racking Up Value

Oenophiles have long appreciated the finest of wines under the assumption that the wines were indeed the rarest among vintage collections. However, the distribution of counterfeit bottles has become increasingly common among wine auction houses. One particularly famous oenophile is now attempting to bring more awareness to these fraudulent practices. William Koch – a wealthy wine connoisseur and member of the well-known Koch family – has spent approximately “$25 million of his own money to shine a light on frauds in the business” (CBS, 2013).

Mr. Koch filed a lawsuit in 2009 against Rudy Kurniawan, accusing Mr. Kurniawan of selling fraudulent wines at high-end prices. In 2002, Mr. Kurniawan (also known as “Dr. Conti” or “Mr. 47”) began to develop a strong reputation in wealthy wine collecting circles as a collector of rare bottles. Mr. Kurniawan even broke a record in 2006 for one sale totaling $24.7 million.

Mr. Kurniawan was arrested in 2012 at his home in Arcadia, California.  When the FBI searched his home, they purportedly found “a sophisticated operation for corking bottles and producing fake labels” (CBS, 2013). The operation involved blending cheaper Napa wines with expensive Bordeaux vintages as well as the printing of fake labels. The federal trial continues in New York City and includes charges against Mr. Kurniawan of “selling counterfeit wines to unsuspecting customer” (CBS, 2013). If convicted of charges for mail and wire fraud, Mr. Kurniawan could face up to up to 40 years in prison.