RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

Tasting notes, varietals, grapes - anything related to wine
steve goldun
SubscriberSubscriber
 
Posts: 68
Joined: October 7th 2009, 10:12am
Location: Los Angeles

RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

Post #6476  Postby steve goldun » May 6th 2014, 8:03am

I can't recall another case where having been raised in a gated community has been cited as a mitigating factor in sentencing.


Well here are two recent examples. And this particular phenomonon even has a name now.

http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/05/us/texas-affluenza-teen/

http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/02/justice/d ... rape-case/
Steve Goldun
Los Angeles
ITB

Advertisement

User avatar
John Morris
SubscriberSubscriber
 
Posts: 6963
Joined: June 21st 2009, 2:09pm
Location: New York City

RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

Post #6477  Postby John Morris » May 6th 2014, 8:14am

Silly me!

FYI, here's the full sentencing memo by Rudy's lawyers.
Attachments
Kurniawan sentencing memo.pdf
(164.45 KiB) Downloaded 217 times
"We've all heard that a million monkeys banging on a million typewriters will eventually reproduce the entire works of Shakespeare. Now, thanks to the Internet, we know this is not true." -- variously attributed and constantly corroborated
User avatar
Glenn Gallup
 
Posts: 183
Joined: March 12th 2012, 3:37pm

RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

Post #6478  Postby Glenn Gallup » May 6th 2014, 8:42am

Thank you Steve, you beat me to it. Seriously, maybe the interests of justice might be served by springing Rudy. He'll be on the first flight to Hong Kong and it's possible some offshore customer who got cheated will ... ummmm .... Deal with him.
I have taken more out of alcohol
KeithKW
 
Posts: 35
Joined: February 6th 2012, 4:58pm

RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

Post #6479  Postby KeithKW » May 6th 2014, 9:34am

My favorite typo from the Rudy sentencing memo (or should I say Freudian slip?):

"Rudy ...soon moved up to the frenzy of the real thing – the fast moving adrenalized
world of lie auctions"

[rofl.gif]
K Wollenberg
Burgundy Fiend
User avatar
John Morris
SubscriberSubscriber
 
Posts: 6963
Joined: June 21st 2009, 2:09pm
Location: New York City

RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

Post #6480  Postby John Morris » May 6th 2014, 11:19am

There's some fascinating detail in the sentencing memo (pages 11-17) about Rudy's concoctions and Acker's role in egging him on. It alleges that Acker loaned him money to bid at the minimum to make it look like lots had sold when there wasn't a bona fide sale, and that Acker advanced him large sums even when there were no auctions of his wines scheduled.

The bolding is mine, as are the italicized comments:

As shown at trial, Rudy also engaged in the practice of reconditioning. He would acquire multiple bottles of particular wine with relatively low fill, then sacrifice a bottle’s contents to recondition the remaining bottles. He trusted that he could taste the open bottles and determine that the contents were in good condition before reconditioning and resealing. This was reflected at trial in the seven bottles of 1962 DRC purchased by Rudy and resold later as six, but with higher fill. The final product had been tampered with, had been adulterated in that what he did was not revealed, but properly contained the product that had been purchased. A bonus was that Rudy ended up with most of a bottle to enjoy himself.

In 2005, Rudy sold some of the wines he had purchased along with some that he had modified. [missing words in original] Acker Merrall a private sale to William Koch. Most of what was sold were bottles that had been purchased by Rudy in prior auctions. Not all of these were authentic; some bottles were refilled and/or replicated by Rudy.

Kapon began to urge Rudy to put together a large collection of wines from his collection and cellar (many of the wines purchased by Rudy at Acker Merrall’s auctions were still in the hands of Acker Merrall and easily available.) Rudy agreed and provided wine for two large auctions in 2006. Approximately 14,000 bottles of wine were put up for auction at these two events. The great majority of which had been previously purchased by Rudy. These included many vintages from Italy, Australia, Germany and the United States in addition to the Burgundy and Bordeaux offerings. At the request of John Kapon, Rudy started to ‘price’ support Acker Merrall by agreeing to buy wines at the reserve price when bidding fell short. The charges would be placed on his ‘account’ and the wines held by Acker Merrall.

By this time Rudy had collected the materials necessary to reproduce authentic looking bottles. He had a printer in Indonesia who created authentic reproductions of labels and stickers. Rudy also ordered stamps and authentic wax to mark and seal the bottles from other vendor.

All of the reproduction bottles that Rudy created were carefully created by his own hand in the kitchen of his home in Los Angeles. As shown by the evidence at trial, two or three bottles at a time would be soaked in the sink to remove the old labels. Then the new labels and appropriate stickers were carefully applied. Only after all of this was done and a proper looking bottle created would the bottle be filled with a mixture of other wines that would match, as close as possible, the taste of the vintage that was proclaimed by the label. This was slow, meticulous work. Working alone, Rudy created, filled and corked only a relatively small number of bottles. But, for the most part, they were very special wines. Rudy was able to produce bottles only when he was actually physically present in Arcadia, and then only when not attending to other business. Still, he was able over the years to create hundreds of bottles. There were few at first, but more later when pressure from Acker Merrall increased.

Starting in 2006, a part of the allure for Rudy to participate in the auctions and to have increasingly valuable submissions was in the form of advances made by Acker Merrall to Rudy. After Kapon valued Rudy’s proposed list of wines for the auction, he then made advance payments to Rudy. This quickly became millions of dollars. Trying to keep up with the very wealthy members of the elite wine collector group was expensive and Rudy started to see himself as a part of their world. With the additional money coming in from the advances he was able to play the part. But, in doing so he was spending large sums. The required restaurants, clothing and jewelry were very expensive.

Rudy now needed to generate large amounts from the auctions just to pay back the advances. By the end of the first auction in 2006, virtually all of the proceeds went back to Acker Merrall. That increased the importance of another auction. This one would be in October of 2006 and would be even larger than the one before. Again, most of the product put up for sale came from earlier purchases. …

Once the auction was set and wines committed, the advances started again. But as before, the money was gone by the time the auction took place, so the net proceeds left almost nothing.

Even though Rudy had sold thousands of bottles of wine for millions of dollars in 2007, he was short money. He did not want to ask his family for money. They had provided him with millions. He wanted his family to see him as being successful, and even able to repay some of what he had been given, so he looked to his new found ‘friends’ for loans. He secured the loans with bottles of wine, both real ones from his purchases and also those he created in his home. In addition, even though there was not a scheduled auction at that time, Acker Merrall continued to advance money in anticipation of a future auction. [!!] The difficulty was that most of the truly valuable wines that Rudy had purchased had either been sold or consumed at various events and tastings. It would take a long time to create enough bottles for an auction that would measure up to the earlier ones. During 2007 Rudy created and turned over to Acker Merrall wines for an auction that would take place in 2008. Much of 2007 went to creating and supplying those bottles and to spice up some private sales. In June of 2007 he made a sale to David Doyle. Many, but not all, of these bottles were created by Rudy

In addition to [a $3 million] loan from Fine Art Capital [in 2007], Rudy still owed millions of dollars to Acker Merrall for advances that they had made in anticipation of the upcoming auction and purchases he had made but not paid for. The advances were based primarily on bottles Rudy consigned during 2007. What he owed was further increased as interest, costs and fees, together with charges for more purchases, were added. [The court filing makes no mention of Rudy's liability to Acker for bottles rejected by buyers on which Acker had to make good. These ran into six or seven figures, as I recall from the indictment.] The auction was planned for April of 2008. A major focus of this auction would be 107 bottles of wine purportedly from Domaine Ponsot, however, many of these were reproductions

The Ponsot wines were problematic because some of the purported vintages could not have even existed. Laurent Ponsot, from Domaine Ponsot, questioned half of the bottles. The Ponsot wines were pulled from the auction and held, leaving Rudy unable to repay the sums he owed to Acker Merrall, and squarely in the negative spotlight. Acker Merrall and John Kapon started to distance themselves from him. The relationship soured, and Rudy, who acknowledged that he owed them money, agreed to the entry of a judgment against him in late 2008

….

After the 2008 failed auction, Rudy sold only limited amounts of wine, most of which was from his prior purchases. The debacle of the 2008 auction initially caused him to stop creating wines. Rudy still had friends and supporters, but most people did not want to deal with him. He was embarrassed by the many mistakes made with the Ponsot wines. The fact that he had the ability to faithfully recreate the taste of storied wines that he had actually tasted continued to nag at him [the burden of talent!], and he found himself once again working on a limited number of such recreations. During this period he engaged in some private sales

By 2011 he had a number of new bottles that had been produced. These, together with other wines that he had obtained from other sources over the years were consigned to auction in London. Prior to the auction, twelve lots of this wine were withdrawn by the auction house as being suspicious.
Last edited by John Morris on May 6th 2014, 2:21pm, edited 1 time in total.
"We've all heard that a million monkeys banging on a million typewriters will eventually reproduce the entire works of Shakespeare. Now, thanks to the Internet, we know this is not true." -- variously attributed and constantly corroborated
User avatar
Glenn Gallup
 
Posts: 183
Joined: March 12th 2012, 3:37pm

RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

Post #6481  Postby Glenn Gallup » May 6th 2014, 12:31pm

If you can't dazzle 'em with facts baffle 'em with bucksnort.
I have taken more out of alcohol
John Dawson
 
Posts: 51
Joined: July 20th 2009, 11:06am
Location: USA

RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

Post #6482  Postby John Dawson » May 6th 2014, 4:18pm

In summary:

Factual Background:

- Rich kid realizes he has a knack for tasting wine
- Rich kid realizes knack for tasting wine will lead to friends and fortune
- Rich kid spends fortune on wine, makes many friends, but he's no longer rich
- No-longer-Rich kid realizes he must use his knack for tasting wine to exploit friends who will spend a fortune to buy his wine
- No-longer-Rich kid earns new fortune, enjoys renewed Rich-kid status
- Rich kid status proves temporary, undermined by obsession for Mont Blanc pens and chandeliers, once again no longer rich
- No-longer-Rich kid uses knack for tasting wine to exploit old and new friends who will spend their fortunes to buy his wine
- No-longer-Rich kid caught playing with stickers and magic markers, making "potions" in his kitchen, just like a 5-year old kid who makes "magic potions" for his friends.

Defense: No-longer-Rich kid was just playing with stickers and magic markers, making magic potions in his kitchen for his friends, who knew most of the potions weren't really magic anyway. Nonetheless, everybody like No-longer Rich kid's magic potions, they were lots of fun. This was just a game that this circle likes and can afford to play, irrespective of what was actually in the potions. No one threw up, no one got sick, everyone had a good old time.
User avatar
David Glasser
(Online)
SubscriberSubscriber
 
Posts: 1116
Joined: August 16th 2009, 6:03pm
Location: Maryland

RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

Post #6483  Postby David Glasser » May 6th 2014, 4:56pm

Pardon my naïveté, but is it legal for an auction house to arrange for a consignor or buyer to place bids on lots to be sure they meet reserve? Is it legal for an auction house to loan its own money or provide an advance for that purpose?
User avatar
Glenn Gallup
 
Posts: 183
Joined: March 12th 2012, 3:37pm

RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

Post #6484  Postby Glenn Gallup » May 6th 2014, 5:36pm

I dunno David. I watch the car auctions and I get really suspicious when I see an employee of the auction house "on the phone with a bidder" and it just happens that the bidder in the house gets the car after the phone bidder backs out I wonder.
I have taken more out of alcohol
User avatar
Maureen Downey
 
Posts: 142
Joined: November 19th 2009, 1:42pm
Location: San Francisco

RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

Post #6485  Postby Maureen Downey » May 6th 2014, 5:47pm

David Glasser wrote:Pardon my naïveté, but is it legal for an auction house to arrange for a consignor or buyer to place bids on lots to be sure they meet reserve?


No - a seller may not bid on - nor have an agent bid on the wines in his consignment on his own behalf.
That is clearly stated in every auction contract as it is law- so this is bizarre.... To be fair, auction houses retain the right to "buy in" any lots that go unsold,meaning they fail to meet the reserve price - but those wines must be reported as "passed" not sold.
Why would Rudy agree to "buy in" his wines at reserve to help the sale, and pay a 20% buyers premium plus taxes on them - as would have been legally required.... This statement may end up being a bit of a legal thorn in the side of the otherwise totally discredited Acker Merral & Condit auction house - not that many apologists seem to care....

That said - Acker apparently, from an ex-acker employee - caught Rudy bidding illegally on his own wines remotely (online & /or on the phone) early on - and did noting about it.... So why should any of this be a shock???
Last edited by Maureen Downey on May 6th 2014, 6:04pm, edited 2 times in total.
ChaiConsulting.com, @WineFraud
User avatar
Maureen Downey
 
Posts: 142
Joined: November 19th 2009, 1:42pm
Location: San Francisco

RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

Post #6486  Postby Maureen Downey » May 6th 2014, 6:02pm

John Dawson wrote:In summary:

Factual Background:

- Rich kid realizes he has a knack for tasting wine
- Rich kid realizes knack for tasting wine will lead to friends and fortune
- Rich kid spends fortune on wine, makes many friends, but he's no longer rich
- No-longer-Rich kid realizes he must use his knack for tasting wine to exploit friends who will spend a fortune to buy his wine
- No-longer-Rich kid earns new fortune, enjoys renewed Rich-kid status
- Rich kid status proves temporary, undermined by obsession for Mont Blanc pens and chandeliers, once again no longer rich
- No-longer-Rich kid uses knack for tasting wine to exploit old and new friends who will spend their fortunes to buy his wine
- No-longer-Rich kid caught playing with stickers and magic markers, making "potions" in his kitchen, just like a 5-year old kid who makes "magic potions" for his friends.

Defense: No-longer-Rich kid was just playing with stickers and magic markers, making magic potions in his kitchen for his friends, who knew most of the potions weren't really magic anyway. Nonetheless, everybody like No-longer Rich kid's magic potions, they were lots of fun. This was just a game that this circle likes and can afford to play, irrespective of what was actually in the potions. No one threw up, no one got sick, everyone had a good old time.


Jackdaw -
What is worse, is that those who have been defrauded/were part of the party remain fiercely in the camp that this logic is acceptable - as far as I can tell/am told.

I have spent several, LONG days catalogueing all the physical labels, pieces thereof and related evidence confiscated from Rudy's home... and bottles from the trial in the past week.

I have learned that despite OBVIOUS - CLEAR & UNDENIABLE evidence to the contrary, some of those that most profited from this fraud, including Robert Bohr, continue to insist that because 'the wines Rudy made tasted real' - the bottles their bottles must be 'real.' Because Bohr/Kapon/Rosania/Angry men and crew including alleged 'journalists' and critics who just wanted free/paid parties...had such LONG and extensive experience with these truly old and rare wines, which even the producers had not seen nor experienced until Rudy started his magic Cellar made in his "House of Wine Horrors." I am as perplexed as the feds at this level of denial. WHO BUYS THIS SHIT?

I can tell you that after looking at 60 bottles yesterday alone - almost all of which had Acker Merral Condit stickers - or THE CELLAR, or THE CELLAR II stickers or a combo thereof, John Kapon must have had a blind person, a willing patsy, a crook or a combo thereof vetting those wines for all those years. The glaringly obvious fakes would have been easily detectable to me in 2002. Some of the pixillation is visible to the naked eye on the DRC wines! They have no defense as far as my eyes are concerned!

That does not however- stop an apologist or worse.
Last edited by Maureen Downey on May 6th 2014, 6:14pm, edited 2 times in total.
ChaiConsulting.com, @WineFraud
User avatar
Todd F r e n c h
Site AdminSite Admin
Head Babysitter
 
Posts: 30935
Joined: January 27th 2009, 9:46am
Location: San Clemente, CA

RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

Post #6487  Postby Todd F r e n c h » May 6th 2014, 6:08pm

Maureen Downey wrote:
I can tell you that after looking at 60 bottles yesterday alone - almost all of which had Acker Merral Condit stickers - or THE CELLER, or THE CELLAR II stickers or a combo thereof, John Kapon must have had a blind person, a willing patsy, a crook or a combo thereof vetting those wines. The glaringly obvious fakes would have been easily detectable to me in 2002. Some of the pixillation is visible to the naked eye. They have no defense as far as my eyes are concerned!

One must assume that the 'collectors' - those who actually PAY for the wines - never really looked at them, and just trusted Kapon, or his minions, to buy on their behalf, whatever super exciting bottles showed up. Such rich folk have little time to inspect wines so carefully, and rely on staff and assistants to work out little details like that.
Apparently I'm lazy, have a narrow agenda, and offer little in the way of content and substance (RMP)
User avatar
Maureen Downey
 
Posts: 142
Joined: November 19th 2009, 1:42pm
Location: San Francisco

RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

Post #6488  Postby Maureen Downey » May 6th 2014, 6:38pm

Buyers have the right to expect that their sources of FINE & Rare wines have done due diligence. Despite the "Buyer Beware" clause at auction- blatant and purposeful lies, paying critics to legitimize collectors, collections and wines and other deceitful actions willfully partaken - as have been by Acker Merral & Condit should NOT be covered by "buyer beware." Fraud is fraud - the apologists can suck it, the info is out.

Retail buyers have NO buyer beware - and clients typically pay higher prices for the fact that they should have no questions about what they are getting, and that they they pay for is exactly what they purchase - no questions asked... But I digress.

Face reality gents: Mr Rosania, Mr Jaeger, Mr Greenberg, Mr Welland (probably because of) Mr Bohr & possibly his clients, Mr Lichtenberg, Mr DeVine, Mr Wender, Client(s) of wine consultant Brian Orcutt, like the FANTASTIC Mr Bill Koch (who already knows this!), & so many more misters I could name - you have all been sold fake wines directly from Rudy or via Acker Merral Condit. Yes - YOUR wine too, was/is fake. YOU were duped. So get made whole, and help the industry, like brave Mr Koch, and be man enough to admit you were duped and go after those that defrauded you! No one will hold it against you - unless you conyinue to pathetically make excuses....

The time for apologists is over. ESPECIALLY the man that MADE Rudy, John Kapon, but also Spectrum in their Rudy sale(s), any house that knowingly sold Rudy wines after he was known to be selling fakes - failed you in their professional duties. I understand that you do not want to deal with it. But you cannot continue to pretend you don't know - that there is just not enough info, or that you don't believe it. Unless - you live in a cave, still also truly believe in Santa, The Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy in which place there is a small padded room and a comfee white jacket awaiting your distance from reality, it's time to face reality and help clean up this mess by holding those that lied to you accountable!

At minimum - admit the issue - and STOP apologizing/making excuses for those that have defrauded YOU.
ChaiConsulting.com, @WineFraud
User avatar
David Glasser
(Online)
SubscriberSubscriber
 
Posts: 1116
Joined: August 16th 2009, 6:03pm
Location: Maryland

RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

Post #6489  Postby David Glasser » May 6th 2014, 10:16pm

Thanks for the detailed explanation Maureen. Bidding on your own stuff didn't sound right to me. Though I suppose it pales in comparison to his other crimes, it was part of Rudy's overall scheme to maintain frenzied interest in those wines. Acker gained as well by becoming the biggest auction house on the block (no pun intended).

As to the apologists, I tend to believe that the cognitive dissonance produced by the magnitude of the fraud/dollars butting up against the size of the egos involved has driven them to, or perhaps beyond, the brink of delusion.
John Dawson
 
Posts: 51
Joined: July 20th 2009, 11:06am
Location: USA

RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

Post #6490  Postby John Dawson » May 7th 2014, 12:35am

Moe D,

What would you do if you knew you spent $1M on fugazi wine that sits in your cellar? Some of the people who sold it to you don't have the funds to reimburse you. Other sellers who do have the funds won't pay up & will litigate your claim as a "bet the business" type of case all the way through an appeal if need be, the attorneys' fees for which will be more than your potential recovery. You could try to borrow against your collection, use it as collateral, but that just invites scrutiny at a time when this is all too fresh in our collective memory. Or, you can just move your wine to a trusted storage facility in London, and wait. Maybe 10 years from now, when all of this is old history to us and irrelevant noise to the label-chasing nouveau riche of a future emerging market, you can find some unsuspecting pen collector who wants any pre-Mitterand vintage of Burgundy, sight unseen.

If you have a working conscience, that approach is not an option. Instead, a better option would be to (i) identify other defrauded buyers from the same auction in which you bought your fugazi wine, & (ii) retain one law firm to represent you & the other buyers as separate plaintiffs in a single lawsuit against the appropriate defendant(s), & thereby split the cost of the attorneys' fees w/ the other plaintiffs in the same case.

I expect more developments and turns in the story in the near-term. And I suspect these developments will coincide with lawsuits and surprisingly quick settlements along the lines I described above.
User avatar
Bruce Leiser_owitz
SubscriberSubscriber
 
Posts: 8583
Joined: June 16th 2009, 12:54pm
Location: Los Angeles, CA

RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

Post #6491  Postby Bruce Leiser_owitz » May 7th 2014, 8:57am

Maureen Downey wrote:Face reality gents: Mr Rosania, Mr Jaeger, Mr Greenberg, Mr Welland (probably because of) Mr Bohr & possibly his clients, Mr Lichtenberg, Mr DeVine, Mr Wender, Client(s) of wine consultant Brian Orcutt, like the FANTASTIC Mr Bill Koch (who already knows this!), & so many more misters I could name - you have all been sold fake wines directly from Rudy or via Acker Merral Condit. Yes - YOUR wine too, was/is fake. YOU were duped. So get made whole, and help the industry, like brave Mr Koch, and be man enough to admit you were duped and go after those that defrauded you! No one will hold it against you - unless you conyinue to pathetically make excuses....


It seems obvious that people other than Mr. Koch ended up with fake wine. I don't have access to the info that you & Don have as to exactly who might have bought some of the fake wine, so I can't comment on the list you've mentioned. But one would imagine there are many other possible shoes that might drop.......

Of course, as already discussed at length earlier in the thread, we understand what Mr. Greenberg did when he realized that he had bought some fake wine.

Bruce
"Bruce you are correct."--Andrew Kaufman, 3/24/13.
User avatar
Glenn Gallup
 
Posts: 183
Joined: March 12th 2012, 3:37pm

RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

Post #6492  Postby Glenn Gallup » May 7th 2014, 3:57pm

Bruce Leiser_owitz said

"Of course, as already discussed at length earlier in the thread, we understand what Mr. Greenberg did when he realized that he had bought some fake wine."

When the LBO guys were high, wide, and handsome it was called the greater fool theory. Didn't make any difference what you paid, someone would give you more later.
I have taken more out of alcohol
User avatar
David Glasser
(Online)
SubscriberSubscriber
 
Posts: 1116
Joined: August 16th 2009, 6:03pm
Location: Maryland

RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

Post #6493  Postby David Glasser » May 8th 2014, 3:11pm

Not Rudy, but I guess this fits in the "Global Wine Auction Fraud Thread"

http://www.bt.dk/danmark/vinfusk-for-mi ... e#slide-12

The caption translates as:

Of all the over 40 great wines by the couple proved to have been refilled and served several times, Petrus '70 is perhaps the most daring scam. Not because of the price but because the exact same bottle was served twice for Neal Martin. The first time in September 2012 by The White Clubs events in Basel, and in February 2013 he gets it back at the launch of his Pomerol-book. Besides being refilled, there is now also scratched a slightly larger hole in the top of the label, but the many other stains and marks testify fraud.

Here's the TN from Neal that appears to correspond to that tasting:

Wine Journal
Nov 2012 Neal Martin 99 Drink 2012 - 2030 $1708-$4505

Tasted at The White Club’s dinner in Basel. This was a brilliant performance from Pomerol’s most famous resident. Amazingly deep and lucid in colour and showing little sign of its age on the rim, the nose is immediately rivets you to the spot. Tightly wound aromas of blackcurrant pastilles, cold stones and Alpine streams, small dark cherries, terracotta and a hint of thyme. The palate is medium-bodied with perfect balance. It marries intensity with elegance like few others, a Petrus of volume and dimension, a Pandora’s box of delights. The tannins are melted and yet still provide a firm backbone, a deep foundation to this majestic wine that has an effortless quality to it. This is probably one of the finest bottles of Petrus I have encountered. Drink now-2030. Tasted September 2012.
Dan Collins
SubscriberSubscriber
 
Posts: 100
Joined: March 21st 2012, 7:10pm

RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

Post #6494  Postby Dan Collins » May 8th 2014, 4:55pm

John Morris wrote:I can't recall another case where having been raised in a gated community has been cited as a mitigating factor in sentencing.


True that. John.

I finally found time to sit down and read the letter from Kurniawan’s lawyers. My tears flowed so copiously that I shorted out three keyboards before finishing the grief-inducing document. To my mind, the narrative runs something like this: A poor little rich boy is inexorably dragged into the world of prostitution, er, fine wine … spiraling ever downward until he hits rock bottom: the high-end auction market. It was in these depths that the ingénue was stricken with a crippling addiction. (“It appeared that once he started bidding for a bottle he did not how to stop.”) This manic bidding for old and rare wines “put him head to head with other members of this rarified club of older wealthier men.”

Hmmm. The older wealthier men defense. If I read the facts of the letter correctly, the elderly plutocrats now in Rudy’s company ensnared the innocent young lad in their web of evil by loaning or advancing him millions of dollars. (The letter mentions in passing that Kurniawan received millions more from his wealthy family.)

As if getting millions in cash tossed his way wasn’t bad enough, Kurniawan was also stricken with celebrity addiction, though it seems Rudy contracted a very mild case of this disease since the only people so cited are Allen Meadows and Jackie Chan. Rudy, for example, recalls the night Chan stood on a chair and applauded him. (Without a trace of irony, the lawyers describe this as the” best night” of Rudy’s life.)

Let me get to the low point, or what was for me the low point of this letter: By now, Kurniawan realized that the auction market was awash in counterfeits. This bothered Rudy, but not in the way you might imagine. “He didn’t really mind the fake labels; what irritated was when he opened such a bottle and found the contents undrinkable. Rudy knew he could do better. He knew that he could faithfully reproduce not just the package, i.e., the bottle and all its accoutrements, but the contents – the taste of the wine within. It was a challenge, and he was up for it.”

So Rudy wasn’t a sleaze ball counterfeiter at all, but some kind of master craftsman. The bogus wines that came off the assembly line in the kitchen of his apartment are referred to in the letter as “reproductions” and “recreations.”

Though crafted by his lawyers, I think the letter accurately reflects Kurniawan’s state of mind. I think Rudy sees himself as a victim, and a very talented victim at that. And after 27 months in the slammer, I think Kuriawan still sees himself as the smartest guy in the room.
Kevin Shin
SubscriberSubscriber
 
Posts: 2513
Joined: August 17th 2009, 1:23pm

RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

Post #6495  Postby Kevin Shin » May 8th 2014, 6:12pm

David Glasser wrote:Not Rudy, but I guess this fits in the "Global Wine Auction Fraud Thread"

http://www.bt.dk/danmark/vinfusk-for-mi ... e#slide-12

The caption translates as:

Of all the over 40 great wines by the couple proved to have been refilled and served several times, Petrus '70 is perhaps the most daring scam. Not because of the price but because the exact same bottle was served twice for Neal Martin. The first time in September 2012 by The White Clubs events in Basel, and in February 2013 he gets it back at the launch of his Pomerol-book. Besides being refilled, there is now also scratched a slightly larger hole in the top of the label, but the many other stains and marks testify fraud.

Here's the TN from Neal that appears to correspond to that tasting:

Wine Journal
Nov 2012 Neal Martin 99 Drink 2012 - 2030 $1708-$4505

Tasted at The White Club’s dinner in Basel. This was a brilliant performance from Pomerol’s most famous resident. Amazingly deep and lucid in colour and showing little sign of its age on the rim, the nose is immediately rivets you to the spot. Tightly wound aromas of blackcurrant pastilles, cold stones and Alpine streams, small dark cherries, terracotta and a hint of thyme. The palate is medium-bodied with perfect balance. It marries intensity with elegance like few others, a Petrus of volume and dimension, a Pandora’s box of delights. The tannins are melted and yet still provide a firm backbone, a deep foundation to this majestic wine that has an effortless quality to it. This is probably one of the finest bottles of Petrus I have encountered. Drink now-2030. Tasted September 2012.


This is why I was critical of the critics attending the mega tastings. I got grilled back then. There is nothing free in life. BTW, I believe Francois Adouze attended the DRC tasting organized by them but Francois can correct me if I am wrong.
WvanGorp
 
Posts: 1382
Joined: April 19th 2009, 9:37am

RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

Post #6496  Postby WvanGorp » May 8th 2014, 6:39pm

In retrospect, clear warning signs about tightly wound aromas and "Amazingly deep and lucid in colour and showing little sign of its age on the rim." Oops.
Wilfred van Gorp
User avatar
Glenn Gallup
 
Posts: 183
Joined: March 12th 2012, 3:37pm

RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

Post #6497  Postby Glenn Gallup » May 8th 2014, 7:38pm

"Tightly wound aromas of blackcurrant pastilles, cold stones and Alpine streams, small dark cherries, terracotta and a hint of thyme. The palate is medium-bodied with perfect balance. It marries intensity with elegance like few others, a Petrus of volume and dimension, a Pandora’s box of delights. The tannins are melted and yet still provide a firm backbone"

That sound you hear is my bullshit detector.
I have taken more out of alcohol
User avatar
paul hanna
 
Posts: 4097
Joined: April 28th 2010, 10:14pm

RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

Post #6498  Postby paul hanna » May 8th 2014, 8:30pm

deadhorse
John Morris wrote:There's some fascinating detail in the sentencing memo (pages 11-17) about Rudy's concoctions and Acker's role in egging him on. It alleges that Acker loaned him money to bid at the minimum to make it look like lots had sold when there wasn't a bona fide sale, and that Acker advanced him large sums even when there were no auctions of his wines scheduled.

The bolding is mine, as are the italicized comments:

As shown at trial, Rudy also engaged in the practice of reconditioning. He would acquire multiple bottles of particular wine with relatively low fill, then sacrifice a bottle’s contents to recondition the remaining bottles. He trusted that he could taste the open bottles and determine that the contents were in good condition before reconditioning and resealing. This was reflected at trial in the seven bottles of 1962 DRC purchased by Rudy and resold later as six, but with higher fill. The final product had been tampered with, had been adulterated in that what he did was not revealed, but properly contained the product that had been purchased. A bonus was that Rudy ended up with most of a bottle to enjoy himself.

In 2005, Rudy sold some of the wines he had purchased along with some that he had modified. [missing words in original] Acker Merrall a private sale to William Koch. Most of what was sold were bottles that had been purchased by Rudy in prior auctions. Not all of these were authentic; some bottles were refilled and/or replicated by Rudy.

Kapon began to urge Rudy to put together a large collection of wines from his collection and cellar (many of the wines purchased by Rudy at Acker Merrall’s auctions were still in the hands of Acker Merrall and easily available.) Rudy agreed and provided wine for two large auctions in 2006. Approximately 14,000 bottles of wine were put up for auction at these two events. The great majority of which had been previously purchased by Rudy. These included many vintages from Italy, Australia, Germany and the United States in addition to the Burgundy and Bordeaux offerings. At the request of John Kapon, Rudy started to ‘price’ support Acker Merrall by agreeing to buy wines at the reserve price when bidding fell short. The charges would be placed on his ‘account’ and the wines held by Acker Merrall.

By this time Rudy had collected the materials necessary to reproduce authentic looking bottles. He had a printer in Indonesia who created authentic reproductions of labels and stickers. Rudy also ordered stamps and authentic wax to mark and seal the bottles from other vendor.

All of the reproduction bottles that Rudy created were carefully created by his own hand in the kitchen of his home in Los Angeles. As shown by the evidence at trial, two or three bottles at a time would be soaked in the sink to remove the old labels. Then the new labels and appropriate stickers were carefully applied. Only after all of this was done and a proper looking bottle created would the bottle be filled with a mixture of other wines that would match, as close as possible, the taste of the vintage that was proclaimed by the label. This was slow, meticulous work. Working alone, Rudy created, filled and corked only a relatively small number of bottles. But, for the most part, they were very special wines. Rudy was able to produce bottles only when he was actually physically present in Arcadia, and then only when not attending to other business. Still, he was able over the years to create hundreds of bottles. There were few at first, but more later when pressure from Acker Merrall increased.

Starting in 2006, a part of the allure for Rudy to participate in the auctions and to have increasingly valuable submissions was in the form of advances made by Acker Merrall to Rudy. After Kapon valued Rudy’s proposed list of wines for the auction, he then made advance payments to Rudy. This quickly became millions of dollars. Trying to keep up with the very wealthy members of the elite wine collector group was expensive and Rudy started to see himself as a part of their world. With the additional money coming in from the advances he was able to play the part. But, in doing so he was spending large sums. The required restaurants, clothing and jewelry were very expensive.

Rudy now needed to generate large amounts from the auctions just to pay back the advances. By the end of the first auction in 2006, virtually all of the proceeds went back to Acker Merrall. That increased the importance of another auction. This one would be in October of 2006 and would be even larger than the one before. Again, most of the product put up for sale came from earlier purchases. …

Once the auction was set and wines committed, the advances started again. But as before, the money was gone by the time the auction took place, so the net proceeds left almost nothing.

Even though Rudy had sold thousands of bottles of wine for millions of dollars in 2007, he was short money. He did not want to ask his family for money. They had provided him with millions. He wanted his family to see him as being successful, and even able to repay some of what he had been given, so he looked to his new found ‘friends’ for loans. He secured the loans with bottles of wine, both real ones from his purchases and also those he created in his home. In addition, even though there was not a scheduled auction at that time, Acker Merrall continued to advance money in anticipation of a future auction. [!!] The difficulty was that most of the truly valuable wines that Rudy had purchased had either been sold or consumed at various events and tastings. It would take a long time to create enough bottles for an auction that would measure up to the earlier ones. During 2007 Rudy created and turned over to Acker Merrall wines for an auction that would take place in 2008. Much of 2007 went to creating and supplying those bottles and to spice up some private sales. In June of 2007 he made a sale to David Doyle. Many, but not all, of these bottles were created by Rudy

In addition to [a $3 million] loan from Fine Art Capital [in 2007], Rudy still owed millions of dollars to Acker Merrall for advances that they had made in anticipation of the upcoming auction and purchases he had made but not paid for. The advances were based primarily on bottles Rudy consigned during 2007. What he owed was further increased as interest, costs and fees, together with charges for more purchases, were added. [The court filing makes no mention of Rudy's liability to Acker for bottles rejected by buyers on which Acker had to make good. These ran into six or seven figures, as I recall from the indictment.] The auction was planned for April of 2008. A major focus of this auction would be 107 bottles of wine purportedly from Domaine Ponsot, however, many of these were reproductions

The Ponsot wines were problematic because some of the purported vintages could not have even existed. Laurent Ponsot, from Domaine Ponsot, questioned half of the bottles. The Ponsot wines were pulled from the auction and held, leaving Rudy unable to repay the sums he owed to Acker Merrall, and squarely in the negative spotlight. Acker Merrall and John Kapon started to distance themselves from him. The relationship soured, and Rudy, who acknowledged that he owed them money, agreed to the entry of a judgment against him in late 2008

….

After the 2008 failed auction, Rudy sold only limited amounts of wine, most of which was from his prior purchases. The debacle of the 2008 auction initially caused him to stop creating wines. Rudy still had friends and supporters, but most people did not want to deal with him. He was embarrassed by the many mistakes made with the Ponsot wines. The fact that he had the ability to faithfully recreate the taste of storied wines that he had actually tasted continued to nag at him [the burden of talent!], and he found himself once again working on a limited number of such recreations. During this period he engaged in some private sales

By 2011 he had a number of new bottles that had been produced. These, together with other wines that he had obtained from other sources over the years were consigned to auction in London. Prior to the auction, twelve lots of this wine were withdrawn by the auction house as being suspicious.


Once again I am simply amazed that Acker is still in business....Something just so very wrong with that.
steve goldun
SubscriberSubscriber
 
Posts: 68
Joined: October 7th 2009, 10:12am
Location: Los Angeles

RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

Post #6499  Postby steve goldun » May 9th 2014, 1:34am

Once again I am simply amazed that Acker is still in business....Something just so very wrong with that.


That's sort of understandable. What's even even more wrong, and amazing, is that Rudy is still in business.
Steve Goldun
Los Angeles
ITB
User avatar
Kevin Sidders
SubscriberSubscriber
 
Posts: 206
Joined: May 2nd 2011, 11:53am
Location: Charlottesville, VA

RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

Post #6500  Postby Kevin Sidders » May 9th 2014, 6:05am

David Glasser wrote:Not Rudy, but I guess this fits in the "Global Wine Auction Fraud Thread"

http://www.bt.dk/danmark/vinfusk-for-mi ... e#slide-12

The caption translates as:

Of all the over 40 great wines by the couple proved to have been refilled and served several times, Petrus '70 is perhaps the most daring scam. Not because of the price but because the exact same bottle was served twice for Neal Martin. The first time in September 2012 by The White Clubs events in Basel, and in February 2013 he gets it back at the launch of his Pomerol-book. Besides being refilled, there is now also scratched a slightly larger hole in the top of the label, but the many other stains and marks testify fraud.

Here's the TN from Neal that appears to correspond to that tasting:

Wine Journal
Nov 2012 Neal Martin 99 Drink 2012 - 2030 $1708-$4505

Tasted at The White Club’s dinner in Basel. This was a brilliant performance from Pomerol’s most famous resident. Amazingly deep and lucid in colour and showing little sign of its age on the rim, the nose is immediately rivets you to the spot. Tightly wound aromas of blackcurrant pastilles, cold stones and Alpine streams, small dark cherries, terracotta and a hint of thyme. The palate is medium-bodied with perfect balance. It marries intensity with elegance like few others, a Petrus of volume and dimension, a Pandora’s box of delights. The tannins are melted and yet still provide a firm backbone, a deep foundation to this majestic wine that has an effortless quality to it. This is probably one of the finest bottles of Petrus I have encountered. Drink now-2030. Tasted September 2012.


David -- great link! That's a fascinating slide presentation and only serves to further show how widespread the wine forgery game is. I suspect that Hardy, Rudy and these characters are only the tip of an iceberg that's MUCH larger than most wine fans and trade participants are willing to admit...
Kevin Sidders (ITB)
Founder and President, VinConnect
Mailing lists for top European wineries
User avatar
Glenn Gallup
 
Posts: 183
Joined: March 12th 2012, 3:37pm

RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

Post #6501  Postby Glenn Gallup » May 9th 2014, 7:20am

Was it ever thus. In James Thurber' collection of essays and cartoons "The Thurber Carnival" there is one cartoon relevant to wine. Two couples are hoisting glasses and the host proclaims "It's only a naive little domestic Burgundy but I think you'll be amused by its presumption" when you hear that crap run for the hills.
I have taken more out of alcohol
User avatar
David Glasser
(Online)
SubscriberSubscriber
 
Posts: 1116
Joined: August 16th 2009, 6:03pm
Location: Maryland

RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

Post #6502  Postby David Glasser » May 9th 2014, 7:49am

Kevin Shin wrote:
David Glasser wrote:Not Rudy, but I guess this fits in the "Global Wine Auction Fraud Thread"

http://www.bt.dk/danmark/vinfusk-for-mi ... e#slide-12

The caption translates as:

Of all the over 40 great wines by the couple proved to have been refilled and served several times, Petrus '70 is perhaps the most daring scam. Not because of the price but because the exact same bottle was served twice for Neal Martin. The first time in September 2012 by The White Clubs events in Basel, and in February 2013 he gets it back at the launch of his Pomerol-book. Besides being refilled, there is now also scratched a slightly larger hole in the top of the label, but the many other stains and marks testify fraud.

Here's the TN from Neal that appears to correspond to that tasting:

Wine Journal
Nov 2012 Neal Martin 99 Drink 2012 - 2030 $1708-$4505

Tasted at The White Club’s dinner in Basel. This was a brilliant performance from Pomerol’s most famous resident. Amazingly deep and lucid in colour and showing little sign of its age on the rim, the nose is immediately rivets you to the spot. Tightly wound aromas of blackcurrant pastilles, cold stones and Alpine streams, small dark cherries, terracotta and a hint of thyme. The palate is medium-bodied with perfect balance. It marries intensity with elegance like few others, a Petrus of volume and dimension, a Pandora’s box of delights. The tannins are melted and yet still provide a firm backbone, a deep foundation to this majestic wine that has an effortless quality to it. This is probably one of the finest bottles of Petrus I have encountered. Drink now-2030. Tasted September 2012.


This is why I was critical of the critics attending the mega tastings. I got grilled back then. There is nothing free in life. BTW, I believe Francois Adouze attended the DRC tasting organized by them but Francois can correct me if I am wrong.


Kevin, critics need to be aware of their surroundings, and held accountable for what they print. However, the potential for fraud is NOT a sufficient reason for critics to abstain from attending mega tastings. It is one cause for caution, as is the size of the pour, the time allowed to taste, etc. A critic should be able to attend these sorts of tastings in order to try rare wines, but must go in with eyes open and a healthy dose of skepticism.

BTW, would you characterize the GJE sessions as "mega tastings?" I am not really trying to equate the two, but I want to be precise about the language here. Large tastings offer causes for concern with respect to the tasting conditions, as I've listed above. But a large tasting is not in and of itself a red flag for fraud just because of the number of wines served. OTOH, when you've got old rarities in the lineup with limited documentation of provenance, you need to be on alert for counterfeits.
Kevin Shin
SubscriberSubscriber
 
Posts: 2513
Joined: August 17th 2009, 1:23pm

RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

Post #6503  Postby Kevin Shin » May 9th 2014, 8:42am

My reference to “mega tastings” is where a large number of great wines/say two, three plus bottles per person are opened and drunk rapidly, kinda over the top. The GJE sessions are conducted in ideal settings, ie wine temperature, room temperature, stems, clean odorless room and etc.
WvanGorp
 
Posts: 1382
Joined: April 19th 2009, 9:37am

RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

Post #6504  Postby WvanGorp » May 9th 2014, 9:42am

Kevin, agreed and I might add for the GJE, wines are sourced from the property, not from secondary and tertiary sources.
Wilfred van Gorp
User avatar
David Glasser
(Online)
SubscriberSubscriber
 
Posts: 1116
Joined: August 16th 2009, 6:03pm
Location: Maryland

RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

Post #6505  Postby David Glasser » May 9th 2014, 11:08am

Based on your definition, Kevin, I agree. In addition to acquiring wines from the primary source, the tasting conditions are carefully controlled. They are "mega" in numbers of wines tasted, but in a way that produces much more reliable information than the sorts of tastings referenced in this thread.

My larger point is that I wouldn't fault a critic for attending a tasting like the one above, but I would expect them to report with a very cautious eye to the prospect of fakes being served. I would think that episodes like this would make most of them leery of being taken in, to the point of avoiding them for fear of being caught with an effusive description of a later-to-be-proved fake.
Kevin Shin
SubscriberSubscriber
 
Posts: 2513
Joined: August 17th 2009, 1:23pm

RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

Post #6506  Postby Kevin Shin » May 9th 2014, 1:59pm

David Glasser wrote:Based on your definition, Kevin, I agree. In addition to acquiring wines from the primary source, the tasting conditions are carefully controlled. They are "mega" in numbers of wines tasted, but in a way that produces much more reliable information than the sorts of tastings referenced in this thread.

My larger point is that I wouldn't fault a critic for attending a tasting like the one above, but I would expect them to report with a very cautious eye to the prospect of fakes being served. I would think that episodes like this would make most of them leery of being taken in, to the point of avoiding them for fear of being caught with an effusive description of a later-to-be-proved fake.


David,
As I posted on ERP, between imprecise nature of human palate and the best con artists ability to produce credible cocktails, it would have been extremely difficult to identify the fakes. In these wine orgies, I doubt that the critics would have spitted and remained sober. Even if the wines were genuine, I am not so sure how credible the TNs could have been in these type of settings.
WvanGorp
 
Posts: 1382
Joined: April 19th 2009, 9:37am

RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

Post #6507  Postby WvanGorp » May 9th 2014, 3:00pm

Not to mention the over the top hyperbole; it would be comical if Neal weren't serious.
Wilfred van Gorp
User avatar
Zev R
(Online)
 
Posts: 206
Joined: June 2nd 2009, 11:10pm

RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

Post #6508  Postby Zev R » May 10th 2014, 12:18am

"...a Pandora’s box of delights"
No kidding.
- Z. R o g o f f
User avatar
Don Cornwell
 
Posts: 984
Joined: June 10th 2010, 1:24am
Location: Los Angeles, CA

"THE WHITE CLUB"

Post #6509  Postby Don Cornwell » May 10th 2014, 7:08am

David Glasser wrote:Not Rudy, but I guess this fits in the "Global Wine Auction Fraud Thread"

http://www.bt.dk/danmark/vinfusk-for-mi ... e#slide-12

The caption translates as:

Of all the over 40 great wines by the couple proved to have been refilled and served several times, Petrus '70 is perhaps the most daring scam. Not because of the price but because the exact same bottle was served twice for Neal Martin. The first time in September 2012 by The White Clubs events in Basel, and in February 2013 he gets it back at the launch of his Pomerol-book. Besides being refilled, there is now also scratched a slightly larger hole in the top of the label, but the many other stains and marks testify fraud.

Here's the TN from Neal that appears to correspond to that tasting:

Wine Journal
Nov 2012 Neal Martin 99 Drink 2012 - 2030 $1708-$4505

Tasted at The White Club’s dinner in Basel. This was a brilliant performance from Pomerol’s most famous resident. Amazingly deep and lucid in colour and showing little sign of its age on the rim, the nose is immediately rivets you to the spot. Tightly wound aromas of blackcurrant pastilles, cold stones and Alpine streams, small dark cherries, terracotta and a hint of thyme. The palate is medium-bodied with perfect balance. It marries intensity with elegance like few others, a Petrus of volume and dimension, a Pandora’s box of delights. The tannins are melted and yet still provide a firm backbone, a deep foundation to this majestic wine that has an effortless quality to it. This is probably one of the finest bottles of Petrus I have encountered. Drink now-2030. Tasted September 2012.

David:

You are very sharp-eyed as usual. Yes, this is a major "fake wine" story that broke in Denmark a couple of days ago, in the Danish food and wine magazine called Gastro. The Danish wine writers who broke the story are Andre Devald and Rene Langdahl Jorgensen. They have been working on the story for months and it is meticulously documented. They enlisted the assistance Michael Egan, Maureen Downey and myself and we've been looking at the evidence and helping gather other evidence since January. I understand that the Financial Times will be publishing a story and I think Wine Spectator is working on it as well.

The White Club held itself out as the world's most exclusive rare wine club, consisting of 50 members, all allegedly by invitation only. The club was nominally based in Basel Switzerland, but its two principals -- Rene Dehn and Malene Meisner -- are apparently Danish citizens. They were a couple for many years, but have recently split. Each member was charged 15,000 Euros to join the White Club and a very substantial annual fee which got you nothing more than the right to attend their various dinners held around the world at various locations where up to 16 people would share bottles of old and rare wines. The White Club put on lavish tastings, including one styled as a "once in a lifetime" DRC wine event held at Chateau de Mercurey in Burgundy on December 14-16, 2012.

As the evidence that will come out will show, some of the wines that were served at The White Club dinners were counterfeit to start with, but the most serious issue is that many bottles that were served at White Club events were refilled and then served again at later White Club events. This is a process that went on for several years undetected. At least one noted wine critic was completely fooled. Neil Martin was served at least four refilled bottles of rare wine at a single dinner held in Zurich in March of 2013, which was hosted by Dehn and Meisner to celebrate the publication of Mr. Martin's book entitled "Pomerol." The refilled wines they served him included the 1970 Petrus refered to in David's post (rated 96 by Martin), a 1945 Petrus with a negociant label (rated 95 by Martin), a 1947 Lafleur (rated 98 by Martin), and a 1978 La Tache (bottle No. 003468, which had been opened and served at another White Club event held in March 2012, rated 96 by Martin).

ImageImage
White Club's Twitter post from March 2012 on the left and a photo published by Neil Martin on the right of the bottle he was served by Dehn and Meisner at the Zurich dinner in March of 2013

I suspect that there were likely other refilled bottles included in that dinner as well, but we don't have detailed photos of every bottle that was served at the White Club events. I know that Andre and Rene contacted Neil Martin to ask for his comments for their article, but as of about 10 days before the publication date, he had not responded.

The article published in Denmark on Thursday had multiple side-by-side photos of bottles that had been refilled and served again -- in some cases on at least three occassions. In a couple of cases there were "twofers" -- bottles known to be counterfeit to start with that were refilled and served again. Among them, a bottle of 1900 Chateau Margaux bottled by B&G that was a fake produced by Khaled Rouaba, a Belgian wine retailer who was convicted for counterfeiting in 2002. That bottle was opened at a White Club event held in Denmark in 2009 and then was served again at the purported "once in a lifetime" DRC tasting held in Burgundy in December 2012. Even though the bottle had been refilled, and was opened by Dehn out of the view of anyone else, he purported to show off the purported cork from the bottle. At that December 2012 DRC dinner, a purported bottle of 1945 DRC Richebourg was also served. The wine had a counterfeit label. The same bottle was then refilled and served at another DRC dinner sponsored by the White Club held in London on April 19, 2013. The co-sponsor of the dinner in London luckily retained the bottles and some of the corks from the wines served that evening. Michael Egan, who testified as the government's expert in the Rudy Kurniawan trial and as Bill Koch's expert in the Greenberg trial, examined the purported 1945 Richebourg in London and found it was clearly counterfeit.

ImageImage
The photo on the left was taken of a bottle served at White Club's "once in a lifetime" DRC event held in Burgundy in December 2012. The photo on the right is of the same bottle, which was refilled and served at White Club's "Nine Decades of DRC" held in London on April 19, 2013. The label is counterfeit.

In many cases Dehn and Meisner made efforts to disguise what they were doing, by adding marks, rubbing one or more holes in the labels, or tearing pieces of the label off (as was done above -- I'm unsure whether the additional stain on the top left of the label was an added flourish or the result of a spill at the December 2012 dinner), but older bottles usually develop uniquie marks and stains that will allow matching if you've got lots of patience and the will to pursue it.

There are many, many pairs of similar photographs from various White Club events. The photographs were meticulously meticulously mined for and downloaded by Andre Devald and Rene Jorgensen, including hundreds downloaded from the White Club twitter feed. We also obtained photos from people who attended some of the events. A few days ago, when Malene Meisner found out the article in Denmark was being published, she completely removed the Twitter profile for the White Club.

It is astounding to me that the refilling of bottles has been taking place for many years and yet no one has apparently caught on until Rene Jorgensen and Andre Devald did so earlier this year. We have been told time and time again that Rene Dehn would bring the rare bottles into the room where these dinners were being held with the bottles already open. In many instances he would have corks available for inspection if anyone asked. For example, at the December 2012 DRC dinner, although no one saw the 1900 Margaux (B&G) being opened, Rene Dehn showed off the purported cork from the bottle (which had been refilled at least once since the same bottle was served at White Club's Grand Tasting in Denmark in 2009). Dehn and Meisner were quite bold in posting photographs of the bottles that they had served at various dinners or opened on their own. But no one seemed to detect the fraud. Andre Devald and Rene Jorgensen were looking for possible connections between Rudy Kurniawan and a Danish wine merchant to whom Rudy sent an email only hours before his arrest in March of 2012, when they stumbled across the evidence concerning The White Club.

There's a lot more to this story, including a series of totally false representations about the DRC wines served by Mr. Dehn and Ms. Meisner at the two DRC dinners. I'll add more information later.....
Last edited by Don Cornwell on May 11th 2014, 3:43am, edited 1 time in total.
Don Cornwell
Oxidized Burgs Wiki
WvanGorp
 
Posts: 1382
Joined: April 19th 2009, 9:37am

RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

Post #6510  Postby WvanGorp » May 10th 2014, 10:02am

Here's an announcement about their DRC tasting:

http://www.luxurydaily.com/parmigiani-p ... rtnership/
Wilfred van Gorp

Return to Wine Talk