RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

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Re: URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#701 Post by NickWittman » February 8th, 2012, 10:59 pm

A friendly suggestion, make this thread a "stickie." Keep it front and center for all to read for as much time as possible. There is a lot of valuable information in the thread, the obvious and that between the lines, that should be remembered for a long time!
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Re: URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#702 Post by Anthony Hall » February 8th, 2012, 11:48 pm

bump
Last edited by Anthony Hall on February 9th, 2012, 2:08 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#703 Post by CHris Hambleton » February 9th, 2012, 1:54 am

Here's something I missed first time around and unless I am reading it wrong, is, if anything, even more unbelievable than all that has gone before it. Have a read of the second paragraph of article 2 in the terms and conditions.

http://spectrumwine.com/Auctions/terms.aspx for context but this para is the 'interesting' part.

Sellers may bid and purchase lot(s) in the Auction Sale consigned by them or by other Sellers. A Seller who re-acquires their own lots in the Auction Sale may pay a different fee, or no fee, than the Buyer’s Premium charged to other Buyers, pursuant to their consignment agreement with the Auctioneer. Spectrum Wine Auctions reserves the right to include its own wine, as well as wine from affiliated or related companies, principals, officers or employees, in any Auction Sale. Spectrum Wine Auctions may have direct or indirect interests in any of the lots in the Auction Sale and may collect commissions other than the Buyer’s Premium. THE TWO PRECEEDING SENTENCES SHALL BE DEEMED A PART OF THE DESCRIPTION OF ALL LOTS CONTAINED IN THE AUCTION CATALOGUE. When a Seller re-acquires a lot, Spectrum Wine Auctions reserves the right to note this in the prices realized from the Auction Sale or to omit the price for such lots from the prices realized.

It seems to me that they are saying that one may bid on one's own wine. It does not say that if one bids on one's own lot then one would have to keep bidding until one wins.
Therefore it appears that this is sanctioning bidding on your own lot which would of course increase the price being paid by any other bidder.

It is my understanding that this is not allowed under legislation in the UK and this is exactly the sort of thing that caused such a furore with the Billionaires Vinegar.

So, it may be, in the case of those wines that were called into question that went below their estimate, that they are simply returning whence they came.

If I were the winner of one of these lots though, I would be very, very angry indeed if I found out that I was bidding against the person who I was buying it from.

I watched most of it and the other thing that struck me, purely incidentally, was the way the auctioneer motored up in increments of £1000 or £500 very quickly. On one particular lot (I forget which, but not a contentious one) the bidding stalled at about £5k. The next (and winning) bid taken was £6k. I suspect that the winning bidder could and should have said, no, I bid £5100 or £5250 but it did not seem as if he or she was given the chance. Mind you I guess £900 is pocket change to most of the bidders.

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Re: URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#704 Post by Dan Rosenheck » February 9th, 2012, 2:03 am

If you bid on your own lot and get stuck with it you're out the buyer's premium...

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Re: URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#705 Post by paul hanna » February 9th, 2012, 2:11 am

CHris Hambleton wrote:Here's something I missed first time around and unless I am reading it wrong, is, if anything, even more unbelievable than all that has gone before it. Have a read of the second paragraph of article 2 in the terms and conditions.

http://spectrumwine.com/Auctions/terms.aspx for context but this para is the 'interesting' part.

Sellers may bid and purchase lot(s) in the Auction Sale consigned by them or by other Sellers. A Seller who re-acquires their own lots in the Auction Sale may pay a different fee, or no fee, than the Buyer’s Premium charged to other Buyers, pursuant to their consignment agreement with the Auctioneer. Spectrum Wine Auctions reserves the right to include its own wine, as well as wine from affiliated or related companies, principals, officers or employees, in any Auction Sale. Spectrum Wine Auctions may have direct or indirect interests in any of the lots in the Auction Sale and may collect commissions other than the Buyer’s Premium. THE TWO PRECEEDING SENTENCES SHALL BE DEEMED A PART OF THE DESCRIPTION OF ALL LOTS CONTAINED IN THE AUCTION CATALOGUE. When a Seller re-acquires a lot, Spectrum Wine Auctions reserves the right to note this in the prices realized from the Auction Sale or to omit the price for such lots from the prices realized.

It seems to me that they are saying that one may bid on one's own wine. It does not say that if one bids on one's own lot then one would have to keep bidding until one wins.
Therefore it appears that this is sanctioning bidding on your own lot which would of course increase the price being paid by any other bidder.

It is my understanding that this is not allowed under legislation in the UK and this is exactly the sort of thing that caused such a furore with the Billionaires Vinegar.

So, it may be, in the case of those wines that were called into question that went below their estimate, that they are simply returning whence they came.

If I were the winner of one of these lots though, I would be very, very angry indeed if I found out that I was bidding against the person who I was buying it from.

I watched most of it and the other thing that struck me, purely incidentally, was the way the auctioneer motored up in increments of £1000 or £500 very quickly. On one particular lot (I forget which, but not a contentious one) the bidding stalled at about £5k. The next (and winning) bid taken was £6k. I suspect that the winning bidder could and should have said, no, I bid £5100 or £5250 but it did not seem as if he or she was given the chance. Mind you I guess £900 is pocket change to most of the bidders.

I'm pretty sure this isn't legal in the UK (it certainly isn't here in Oz, and in fact carries quite strict penalties for such behavior), so how they actually manage to get around this, I'd like to know....

Allowing a vendor to bid you up is in any respect, a big no-no. I for one, would not stand for this sort of rubbish, nor ever buy from them.


It seems that with their terms and conditions seek to re-write the consumer laws just to protect their own self interests....and perhaps quite illegally so??

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Re: URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#706 Post by Anthony Hall » February 9th, 2012, 2:14 am

CHris Hambleton wrote:Here's something I missed first time around and unless I am reading it wrong, is, if anything, even more unbelievable than all that has gone before it. Have a read of the second paragraph of article 2 in the terms and conditions.

http://spectrumwine.com/Auctions/terms.aspx for context but this para is the 'interesting' part.

Sellers may bid and purchase lot(s) in the Auction Sale consigned by them or by other Sellers. A Seller who re-acquires their own lots in the Auction Sale may pay a different fee, or no fee, than the Buyer’s Premium charged to other Buyers, pursuant to their consignment agreement with the Auctioneer. Spectrum Wine Auctions reserves the right to include its own wine, as well as wine from affiliated or related companies, principals, officers or employees, in any Auction Sale. Spectrum Wine Auctions may have direct or indirect interests in any of the lots in the Auction Sale and may collect commissions other than the Buyer’s Premium. THE TWO PRECEEDING SENTENCES SHALL BE DEEMED A PART OF THE DESCRIPTION OF ALL LOTS CONTAINED IN THE AUCTION CATALOGUE. When a Seller re-acquires a lot, Spectrum Wine Auctions reserves the right to note this in the prices realized from the Auction Sale or to omit the price for such lots from the prices realized.

It seems to me that they are saying that one may bid on one's own wine. It does not say that if one bids on one's own lot then one would have to keep bidding until one wins.
Therefore it appears that this is sanctioning bidding on your own lot which would of course increase the price being paid by any other bidder.

It is my understanding that this is not allowed under legislation in the UK and this is exactly the sort of thing that caused such a furore with the Billionaires Vinegar.

So, it may be, in the case of those wines that were called into question that went below their estimate, that they are simply returning whence they came.

If I were the winner of one of these lots though, I would be very, very angry indeed if I found out that I was bidding against the person who I was buying it from.

I watched most of it and the other thing that struck me, purely incidentally, was the way the auctioneer motored up in increments of £1000 or £500 very quickly. On one particular lot (I forget which, but not a contentious one) the bidding stalled at about £5k. The next (and winning) bid taken was £6k. I suspect that the winning bidder could and should have said, no, I bid £5100 or £5250 but it did not seem as if he or she was given the chance. Mind you I guess £900 is pocket change to most of the bidders.
Great question. We call it "dummy bidding" in Australia. Is this legal in the UK or not ? If not we have a smoking gun !
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Re: URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#707 Post by CHris Hambleton » February 9th, 2012, 2:18 am

Dan Rosenheck wrote:If you bid on your own lot and get stuck with it you're out the buyer's premium...
Not according to the second sentence you're not!

Should also say thatthis was flagged on Jancis' forum and mentioned to me - thought it would make interesting reading over here.

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Re: URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#708 Post by Claus Jeppesen » February 9th, 2012, 3:15 am

First of all I would express my gratitude to Don s eminent work. Lots of things to learn there.
Berry Crawford wrote:
SteveC wrote:
Berry Crawford wrote:The 1945 RC is the only wine Allen Meadows has given 100 points too.
Rudy must make some swell juice!
I know you are just busting balls but there is no reason to asume they didn't source a real 1945 RC. I'd be very curious to know if Rudy was involved with that tasting though
Well take a look here:
http://www.ackerwines.com/Catalogs/pdf_ ... eGuide.pdf
Both a "Rudy" and an "Allen" appear in this text and it SEEMS they both were present at the tasting(s)?
Maybe a more knowledgeable person could elaborate?
/Claus
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Re: URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#709 Post by Robert.A.Jr. » February 9th, 2012, 4:12 am

paul hanna wrote:Reading the postings here I would have thought is a bit different to having your own "expert" view and determine the authenticity (or lack there of) of the items they are representing to sell.

Whilst they claim this in their terms and Conditions....

9. DISCLAIMER AND WARRANTIES. NO WARRANTY OF MERCHANTABILITY
OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE IS MADE OR IMPLIED ON ANY LOT.
NO WARRANTY, WHETHER EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED, IS MADE WITH RESPECT
TO ANY LOT EXCEPT FOR WARRANTY OF TITLE, AND IN THE CASE OF TITLE,
THE AUCTION IS SELLING ONLY THAT RIGHT OR TITLE TO THE LOT THAT THE
SELLER MAY HAVE AS OF THE AUCTION SALE DATE. ALL LOTS ARE SOLD “AS
IS” AND WITH ALL FAULTS. BUYER HEREBY ASSUMES ALL RISKS CONCERNING
AND RELATED TO THE QUALITY, DESCRIPTION, CONDITION, AUTHENTICITY,
AND PROVENANCE OF A LOT.

I'm not sure how this would actually stack up in this case, especially under UK law. Would be an interesting test, but I still can't see how they could sell fakes (especially after all the warnings they have received from experts in the field) and then be able to absolve themselves of any future consequences or right of returns....
At least in Florida, which follows traditional common law principles of fraud, this type of self-serving "disclaimer" would not be a bar to a fraud claim. If the seller knowingly places into auction an item known or credibly suspected to be a fake, there should be recourse against that seller. There are well-known exceptions to caveat emptor, fraud and artifice being some of them. Moreover, if the seller makes certain disclosures about provenance, but then intentionally neglects to disclose other material facts related to provenance, there may be recourse.

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Re: URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#710 Post by Don Cornwell » February 9th, 2012, 4:29 am

Someone from the UK called my attention to a very interesting article from Spectrum in the Orange County Business Journal of November 9, 2009. Here is the text

Monday, November 9, 2009

A large gold trading and auction company has moved its headquarters from
Connecticut to Irvine as it looks to put some legal problems behind it.

Spectrum Group International Inc. has yearly sales of $4 billion, most from selling gold
coins and bars to banks and others that resell them to investors.

The company distributes gold from government mints, generating a lot of revenue but a
slim gross profit of 1% on gold trading.

Spectrum also holds auctions of stamps, coins, antique firearms and military
collectibles, as well as a wine auction business it is starting this month with a $3
million offering at The St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point.

A few years ago, the company ranked as the third largest auction house in the country
behind London-based Christie’s International PLC and New York’s Sotheby’s. It now
ranks lower among the top 10 auction houses.

The company has seen fallout from legal problems at two-thirds owner Afinsa Bienes
Tangibles SA of Spain.

In 2006, the Spanish government accused Afinsa of running a Ponzi scheme involving
stamps. The scheme is believed to have mismanaged the savings of hundreds of
thousands of Spaniards.

Earlier this year, Spectrum settled a suit brought against it by the Securities and
Exchange Commission that alleged fraud in the stamp scheme. Spectrum settled
without admitting or denying guilt.

The company, formerly known as Escala Group Inc., saw its stock collapse in 2006
after Spanish police raided Afinsa. It’s yet to recover.
Spectrum’s shares once traded on Nasdaq but now are on the low-profile Bulletin Board exchange with a recent market value of $70 million.

The company’s legal issues mostly are behind it now, said Chief Executive Greg
Roberts, who was hired a couple years ago to turn around the company.
“There are still some potential problems, but nothing we think is significant,” Roberts
said.

Earlier this year, Roberts moved the company to Irvine and dropped the Escala name
for Spectrum. Before 2005, the company was named Greg Manning Auctions Inc. after
founder and stamp collector Greg Manning.

Roberts started a coin trading company in Irvine in 1991 that he sold in 2000 to what’s
now Spectrum.

He continued to run the coin trading unit for Spectrum from Irvine. Moving the
headquarters here was a consolidation move, he said.

Workforce

About 10 people relocated from Spectrum’s former headquarters in Connecticut,
according to Roberts.

The bulk of the company’s workforce is in Irvine where it employs 110 people in
20,000 square feet of office space. The workers trade gold and handle customer service
and operations.

An 8,000-square-foot warehouse nearby holds many of Spectrum’s collectibles,
including antique guns.

Another 30 people work in offices in Europe and Asia.

Gold Surge

For the 12 months through June, Spectrum’s gold business benefited from a late 2008
price drop and early 2009 surge that spurred more buying and selling.

Its gross profit on gold trading grew more than 200% from a year earlier to $43 million.
More than 95% of Spectrum’s revenue is from gold, which it buys from the mints of
governments including the U.S., Canada, Australia, South Africa, China and Austria
and sells to banks, coin dealers, jewelers, collectors, investors, refiners and
manufacturers.

The company’s smaller business of collectibles sold at auction slumped in the past year
with the weak economy.

Sales were down more than 5% from a year earlier to $166 million. Gross profit was
cut by about a third to $28 million with a net loss of nearly $8 million.

Spectrum runs live, phone and Internet auctions mostly for stamps and coins as well as
guns and armor, which are sold to collectors and dealers.

The company is hoping a new wine auction business will provide a boost.
On Nov. 21, Spectrum plans to kick off the business at the St. Regis with offerings
from collector Aubrey McClendon, who cofounded Oklahoma City-based natural gas
producer Chesapeake Energy Corp. in 1989.
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Re: URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#711 Post by Guillaume Deschamps » February 9th, 2012, 5:07 am

Don Cornwell wrote:... as well as a wine auction business it is starting this month with a $3 million offering at The St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point.
A good story always goes full circle [popcorn.gif]
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Re: URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#712 Post by Brady Daniels » February 9th, 2012, 5:26 am

Damn, I must be reading the wrong forum. The real scoop on the wines was on Jancis' board, not WB. :)

Oh yeah, I must have been at the wrong auction, too. There were still plenty of seats available. Glad to know the auction was a massive success!

The following article appears in today's The Drinks Business spotted by Jasper Morris on the UK Wine Pages.
SPECTRUM AUCTION “REDEFINES” LONDON SCENE
9th February, 2012 by Rupert Millar
The inaugural Spectrum wine auction in the UK was hailed as “redefining” London’s auction scene after last night’s sale, despite controversy surrounding certain lots.

It was standing room only at the ballroom of the Mandarin Oriental as bidders competed for lots of Domaine de la Romanée-Conto La Tâche 1969 and Haut-Brion and Palmer 1961.

“It has been an honour for us at Spectrum Wine Auctions to work alongside Vanquish and enter the London wine scene with our inaugural London auction yesterday, and we are incredibly happy with the results,” said Jason Boland, president of Spectrum Wine Auctions.

“This was truly a global event with a packed auction room here in London, as well as buyers in the US and Hong Kong and all over the world placing their bids on a truly amazing selection of fine wine.

“We appreciate the hospitality and enthusiasm we have enjoyed here in London and we look forward to returning.”

Speaking yesterday to the drinks business before the auction, both Boland and Vanquish’s head of fine wines, Richard Brierley, explained that they wanted to instil a greater sense of theatre and energy to London auctions.

“In some cases it’s so easy to find that the room is no longer a player,” said Brierley, speaking of the large number of ways absent buyers were able to bid via phone or online.

He continued: “There’s a theatre to a packed room. It might be romantic but we’d like to preserve the best parts of what an auction is.”

Despite the success of the event, it has not been without controversy. In the run-up to the sale various concerns were raised online concerning the veracity of some of the lots.

Spectrum had to make it clear that Rudy Kurniawan, who has been accused in a number of fraud cases, was not a consignor of some of the wines in last night’s sale – a very rare move.

Nevertheless, 13 lots of DRC were removed from the sale after Californian lawyer and wine collector, Don Cornwell, raised his own concerns on jancisrobinson.com.

He stated that, among other things, the capsules on the DRC Montrchet 1966 were incorrect, that the bottle number of a magnum of Romanée-Conti was two digits short and that a slip label on a lot of DRC 1978 misspelled Percy Fox’s address as “Sackvilee” street, rather than “Sackville”.

DRC’s current UK distributor, Corney & Barrow, was dragged into the commentary, with managing director Adam Brett-Smith saying on the merchant’s blog: “Corney & Barrow believes, on behalf of its UK customers, that it has a responsibility to make public its concerns about Mr Cornwell’s comprehensive critique of a significant number of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti lots in this forthcoming auction.”

However, he added that there are no plans to conduct an investigation at present but the matter would be discussed with the domaine.
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Re: URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#713 Post by Gavin Monery » February 9th, 2012, 5:31 am

^ There's an argument to say they really did 'redefine' the London auction scene...

Highlights for me have to include some great wines being served and a lovely chat I had with Kevin of Spectrum, not to mention all the popcorn here...

Unfortunately most people I spoke with on the night had not heard about the provenance issues, although I imagine a few will become familiar with them over the coming days. I did get the distinct impression that people like us (wine nerds) are not their target market, so I’m not sure if this blight on their reputation will have any effect on their business in the long term. Most were private customers and whilst the room was full there were probably only 4 serious bidders, with a few on the phone.

Despite a nominal effort being made to pull some of the obviously suspect wines they still sold lots 11, 15, 89, 91, 92 and 122, all of which had been flagged up by Don as dubious. Of course with Spectrum allowing sellers and their agents to bid on lots there is no way of telling how many wines were actually sold, as they may well have ‘bought’ their own wines to keep up the momentum.

I cannot for the life of me understand why they didn’t tackle the problem head on when it was first raised. If they had simply acknowledged there were some suspect bottles and removed them from the sale immediately this would have blown over in a few days. As it is their silence has been filled with furious debate and their image is irreparably tarnished amongst the trade. Removing 50 lots from a sale of 177 is embarrassing, but to not have done so will surely prove to be more embarrassing in the long run.
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Re: URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#714 Post by Peter Hirdt » February 9th, 2012, 5:47 am

Doug Schulman wrote:
Todd F r e n c h wrote:
Justin W ells wrote:
She sites Don as the source. It may have been posted here, but Don is ultimately the source.
This is bullshit, frankly. The source is found here - Don posted it, and Decanter needs to give credit as Jancis has
I agree. The timeline of events here is very significant to the story, and not clearly laying that out is doing injustice to the way this story is reported. I made that comment on Decanter's site, so we'll see if it gets through.
Based on my regular work in other areas, I can assure you that expecting or trying to enforce proper attribution for original primary-source research is an increasingly frustrating and difficult task. It's like the wild west out there, with too many folks—even ones who should know better, not just the bloggers/tweeters—taking whatever is free and claiming it as their own.

Thanks to Don for his amazing breakthrough work on this story. Shame on anyone who fails to properly credit him.

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Re: URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#715 Post by Lionel Nierop » February 9th, 2012, 6:21 am

paul hanna wrote:
CHris Hambleton wrote:Here's something I missed first time around and unless I am reading it wrong, is, if anything, even more unbelievable than all that has gone before it. Have a read of the second paragraph of article 2 in the terms and conditions.

http://spectrumwine.com/Auctions/terms.aspx for context but this para is the 'interesting' part.

Sellers may bid and purchase lot(s) in the Auction Sale consigned by them or by other Sellers. A Seller who re-acquires their own lots in the Auction Sale may pay a different fee, or no fee, than the Buyer’s Premium charged to other Buyers, pursuant to their consignment agreement with the Auctioneer. Spectrum Wine Auctions reserves the right to include its own wine, as well as wine from affiliated or related companies, principals, officers or employees, in any Auction Sale. Spectrum Wine Auctions may have direct or indirect interests in any of the lots in the Auction Sale and may collect commissions other than the Buyer’s Premium. THE TWO PRECEEDING SENTENCES SHALL BE DEEMED A PART OF THE DESCRIPTION OF ALL LOTS CONTAINED IN THE AUCTION CATALOGUE. When a Seller re-acquires a lot, Spectrum Wine Auctions reserves the right to note this in the prices realized from the Auction Sale or to omit the price for such lots from the prices realized.

It seems to me that they are saying that one may bid on one's own wine. It does not say that if one bids on one's own lot then one would have to keep bidding until one wins.
Therefore it appears that this is sanctioning bidding on your own lot which would of course increase the price being paid by any other bidder.

It is my understanding that this is not allowed under legislation in the UK and this is exactly the sort of thing that caused such a furore with the Billionaires Vinegar.

So, it may be, in the case of those wines that were called into question that went below their estimate, that they are simply returning whence they came.

If I were the winner of one of these lots though, I would be very, very angry indeed if I found out that I was bidding against the person who I was buying it from.

I watched most of it and the other thing that struck me, purely incidentally, was the way the auctioneer motored up in increments of £1000 or £500 very quickly. On one particular lot (I forget which, but not a contentious one) the bidding stalled at about £5k. The next (and winning) bid taken was £6k. I suspect that the winning bidder could and should have said, no, I bid £5100 or £5250 but it did not seem as if he or she was given the chance. Mind you I guess £900 is pocket change to most of the bidders.

I'm pretty sure this isn't legal in the UK (it certainly isn't here in Oz, and in fact carries quite strict penalties for such behavior), so how they actually manage to get around this, I'd like to know....

Allowing a vendor to bid you up is in any respect, a big no-no. I for one, would not stand for this sort of rubbish, nor ever buy from them.


It seems that with their terms and conditions seek to re-write the consumer laws just to protect their own self interests....and perhaps quite illegally so??
Broad-brush, shill bidding is illegal in the UK under the Fraud Act 2006 - see http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2006/35/section/1 for the whole statute - and there have been successful prosecutions over the past few years, although these relate to online auctions. The relevant section is as follows:

4. Fraud by abuse of position

(1)A person is in breach of this section if he—

(a)occupies a position in which he is expected to safeguard, or not to act against, the financial interests of another person,
(b)dishonestly abuses that position, and
(c)intends, by means of the abuse of that position—
(i)to make a gain for himself or another, or
(ii)to cause loss to another or to expose another to a risk of loss.

(2)A person may be regarded as having abused his position even though his conduct consisted of an omission rather than an act.


I guess the declaration in the T&Cs probably gets round (1)(a) and (b).
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Re: URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#716 Post by sdfruman » February 9th, 2012, 6:25 am

What an amazing education and opportunity to get an insider's look into a world that many people know little about. Don, you did an incredible job of researching the DRC wines and trying to bring to light all the potential discrepancies. As a person who has DRC at the top of her bucket list (not that I'll ever be able to afford them) I found this whole discussion completely absorbing, better than anything on tv or cable. There's definitely a book in here, especially since I doubt this is the end of it. [welldone.gif]
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Re: URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#717 Post by CHris Hambleton » February 9th, 2012, 6:37 am

I suspect a few of you might want to take something calming before you read this excerpt from UK trade publication "the Drinks Business"

Spectrum auction “redefines” London scene
9th February, 2012 by Rupert Millar
The inaugural Spectrum wine auction in the UK was hailed as “redefining” London’s auction scene after last night’s sale, despite controversy surrounding certain lots.

It was standing room only at the ballroom of the Mandarin Oriental as bidders competed for lots of Domaine de la Romanée-Conto La Tâche 1969 and Haut-Brion and Palmer 1961.

“It has been an honour for us at Spectrum Wine Auctions to work alongside Vanquish and enter the London wine scene with our inaugural London auction yesterday, and we are incredibly happy with the results,” said Jason Boland, president of Spectrum Wine Auctions.

“This was truly a global event with a packed auction room here in London, as well as buyers in the US and Hong Kong and all over the world placing their bids on a truly amazing selection of fine wine.

“We appreciate the hospitality and enthusiasm we have enjoyed here in London and we look forward to returning.”

Speaking yesterday to the drinks business before the auction, both Boland and Vanquish’s head of fine wines, Richard Brierley, explained that they wanted to instil a greater sense of theatre and energy to London auctions.

“In some cases it’s so easy to find that the room is no longer a player,” said Brierley, speaking of the large number of ways absent buyers were able to bid via phone or online.

He continued: “There’s a theatre to a packed room. It might be romantic but we’d like to preserve the best parts of what an auction is.”

Despite the success of the event, it has not been without controversy. In the run-up to the sale various concerns were raised online concerning the veracity of some of the lots.

Spectrum had to make it clear that Rudy Kurniawan, who has been accused in a number of fraud cases, was not a consignor of some of the wines in last night’s sale – a very rare move.

Nevertheless, 13 lots of DRC were removed from the sale after Californian lawyer and wine collector, Don Cornwell, raised his own concerns on jancisrobinson.com.

He stated that, among other things, the capsules on the DRC Montrchet 1966 were incorrect, that the bottle number of a magnum of Romanée-Conti was two digits short and that a slip label on a lot of DRC 1978 misspelled Percy Fox’s address as “Sackvilee” street, rather than “Sackville”.

DRC’s current UK distributor, Corney & Barrow, was dragged into the commentary, with managing director Adam Brett-Smith saying on the merchant’s blog: “Corney & Barrow believes, on behalf of its UK customers, that it has a responsibility to make public its concerns about Mr Cornwell’s comprehensive critique of a significant number of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti lots in this forthcoming auction.”

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Re: URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#718 Post by Linda Baehr » February 9th, 2012, 6:39 am

Don Cornwell wrote:
1937 La Tache (Lot 134):

This bottle remains unclear, but I would say it is more than likely not authentic. I have not been able to find good exemplars of 1937 La Tache (and, while perhaps this is just a coincidence, it is interesting to me that the images of the 1937 La Tache and 1937 Romanee Conti sold by Spectrum in their winter 2011 auction have disappeared from their website in the past few days). Nevertheless the font on ANNÉE on the left hand side of the vintage is completely different than that which appears on a bottle of 1937 Romanee Conti of known provenance sold at Heritage Wine Auctions on June 16, 2011, The 1937 La Tache in Lot 134 presents ANNÉE in uniformly sized block lettering. However, the exemplar 1937 Romanee Conti presents the word as Année in initial caps.
1937 Romanee Conti.jpg
Here, again, the absence of any disclosure about the provenance of this bottle tips the balance for me.
I just (finally) got caught up with this thread.
And labels/capsules aside, what is up with the color of this wine? A 74 year old wine with that much ullage, and it is what appears to be bright pink? I am certainly no expert on old wine, but I do know my wine chemistry, and to me there is no way it could be this color. Am I missing something here?
As I said, I have little experience with very old wines. Is this even possible?

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Re: URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#719 Post by Ken V » February 9th, 2012, 6:47 am

Linda, that may be more about lighting than chemistry.
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Re: URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#720 Post by Linda Baehr » February 9th, 2012, 6:48 am

Ken V wrote:Linda, that may be more about lighting than chemistry.
But with that much age and ullage, wouldn't the wine be more brown than that? I mean, even through green glass it looks pink.
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Re: URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#721 Post by Berry Crawford » February 9th, 2012, 7:17 am

CHris Hambleton wrote: Nevertheless, 13 lots of DRC were removed from the sale after Californian lawyer and wine collector, Don Cornwell, raised his own concerns on jancisrobinson.com.
LOL

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Re: URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#722 Post by Stuart BeauneHead Niemtzow » February 9th, 2012, 7:18 am

Nevertheless, 13 lots of DRC were removed from the sale after Californian lawyer and wine collector, Don Cornwell, raised his own concerns on jancisrobinson.com.

Great PR for Winebeserkers! rolleyes

Which is the "authentic" thread?

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Re: URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#723 Post by Berry Crawford » February 9th, 2012, 7:38 am

Claus Jeppesen wrote:First of all I would express my gratitude to Don s eminent work. Lots of things to learn there.
Berry Crawford wrote:
SteveC wrote: Rudy must make some swell juice!
I know you are just busting balls but there is no reason to asume they didn't source a real 1945 RC. I'd be very curious to know if Rudy was involved with that tasting though
Well take a look here:
http://www.ackerwines.com/Catalogs/pdf_ ... eGuide.pdf
Both a "Rudy" and an "Allen" appear in this text and it SEEMS they both were present at the tasting(s)?
Maybe a more knowledgeable person could elaborate?
/Claus
I don't see any mention of the RC tasting that Meadows writes about in his book

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Re: URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#724 Post by Don Cornwell » February 9th, 2012, 7:42 am

Gavin Monery wrote:^ Despite a nominal effort being made to pull some of the obviously suspect wines they still sold lots 11, 15, 89, 91, 92 and 122, all of which had been flagged up by Don as dubious.
Gavin:

They also sold lots 132-134 which I labeled as dubious as well (45 La Tache, 45 Romanee Conti and 37 La Tache.) There might even be a few more, I haven't tried to match the rest up to the original post No 61 on page 2.
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Re: URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#725 Post by Paul Seah » February 9th, 2012, 8:00 am

Marvelous work Don!

Quick question - who owns the movie rights here? Don or WB? :)
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Re: URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#726 Post by John Dawson » February 9th, 2012, 8:01 am

Don Cornwell - I read your post when it was first published, but haven't had a moment to post until now. Thank you for your thorough, tireless efforts. Let me know if you are ever in the NYC/CT area; would love to buy you a glass of Champagne or, better yet, Burgundy, as a thank you for your public service. If there were a wine berserker bar, I think you'd be entitled to free drinks for the rest of your life.

Best regards,

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Re: URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#727 Post by Bill Bøykin » February 9th, 2012, 8:10 am

CHris Hambleton wrote:I suspect a few of you might want to take something calming before you read this excerpt from UK trade publication "the Drinks Business"

Spectrum auction “redefines” London scene
9th February, 2012 by Rupert Millar
The inaugural Spectrum wine auction in the UK was hailed as “redefining” London’s auction scene after last night’s sale, despite controversy surrounding certain lots.

It was standing room only at the ballroom of the Mandarin Oriental as bidders competed for lots of Domaine de la Romanée-Conto La Tâche 1969 and Haut-Brion and Palmer 1961.

“It has been an honour for us at Spectrum Wine Auctions to work alongside Vanquish and enter the London wine scene with our inaugural London auction yesterday, and we are incredibly happy with the results,” said Jason Boland, president of Spectrum Wine Auctions.

“This was truly a global event with a packed auction room here in London, as well as buyers in the US and Hong Kong and all over the world placing their bids on a truly amazing selection of fine wine.

“We appreciate the hospitality and enthusiasm we have enjoyed here in London and we look forward to returning.”

Speaking yesterday to the drinks business before the auction, both Boland and Vanquish’s head of fine wines, Richard Brierley, explained that they wanted to instil a greater sense of theatre and energy to London auctions.

“In some cases it’s so easy to find that the room is no longer a player,” said Brierley, speaking of the large number of ways absent buyers were able to bid via phone or online.

He continued: “There’s a theatre to a packed room. It might be romantic but we’d like to preserve the best parts of what an auction is.”

Despite the success of the event, it has not been without controversy. In the run-up to the sale various concerns were raised online concerning the veracity of some of the lots.

Spectrum had to make it clear that Rudy Kurniawan, who has been accused in a number of fraud cases, was not a consignor of some of the wines in last night’s sale – a very rare move.

Nevertheless, 13 lots of DRC were removed from the sale after Californian lawyer and wine collector, Don Cornwell, raised his own concerns on jancisrobinson.com.

He stated that, among other things, the capsules on the DRC Montrchet 1966 were incorrect, that the bottle number of a magnum of Romanée-Conti was two digits short and that a slip label on a lot of DRC 1978 misspelled Percy Fox’s address as “Sackvilee” street, rather than “Sackville”.

DRC’s current UK distributor, Corney & Barrow, was dragged into the commentary, with managing director Adam Brett-Smith saying on the merchant’s blog: “Corney & Barrow believes, on behalf of its UK customers, that it has a responsibility to make public its concerns about Mr Cornwell’s comprehensive critique of a significant number of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti lots in this forthcoming auction.”
Utter rubbish,or garbage........and most likely this will probably,as happens often in Bizzaro World,boost revenues and reputation of Spectrum et al.

"DRC’s current UK distributor, Corney & Barrow, was dragged into the commentary"
Really?
Poor dears.
More spinmeister drivel.

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Re: URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#728 Post by Gavin Monery » February 9th, 2012, 8:56 am

Don Cornwell wrote: They also sold lots 132-134 which I labeled as dubious as well (45 La Tache, 45 Romanee Conti and 37 La Tache.) There might even be a few more, I haven't tried to match the rest up to the original post No 61 on page 2.
Thanks Don, I'd missed those. Thanks for bringing the whole saga to our attention as well. The worst case scenario with stuff like this is that the wines disappear back onto the market to be passed around again. Presumably this will happen anyway as the wines withdrawn will be sent back to the consignor (or whoever they were acting for).

This was a great opportunity to take a lot suspicious wines out of the system in one swoop, it's just a pity it was not siezed upon fully by the people involved in the sale.
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Re: URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#729 Post by Todd F r e n c h » February 9th, 2012, 9:06 am

Gavin Monery wrote:
Don Cornwell wrote: They also sold lots 132-134 which I labeled as dubious as well (45 La Tache, 45 Romanee Conti and 37 La Tache.) There might even be a few more, I haven't tried to match the rest up to the original post No 61 on page 2.
Thanks Don, I'd missed those. Thanks for bringing the whole saga to our attention as well. The worst case scenario with stuff like this is that the wines disappear back onto the market to be passed around again. Presumably this will happen anyway as the wines withdrawn will be sent back to the consignor (or whoever they were acting for).

This was a great opportunity to take a lot suspicious wines out of the system in one swoop, it's just a pity it was not siezed upon fully by the people involved in the sale.
Thank you, Gavin, for your live play-by-play via twitter! It's great having someone 'on the inside' [cheers.gif]
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URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#730 Post by JonoBeagle » February 9th, 2012, 9:12 am

Mayuko (my wife) and I went to Bar Buloud afterwards and pretty much everyone involved with the auction and many attendees were there. All looked pretty happy with what had happened.

At the end of the day, bad publicity is still publicity and gets word out.

It was nice to taste some wines on the night and fun to see a full auditorium... I wouldn't be surprised to see the suspect wines appear elsewhere in the future a few years down the line, but I think this will force Vanquish, if not necessarily Spectrum to be more careful in the future.

As Gavin has said, most of the room were customers of Vanquish, and probably restaurateurs and club owners on the whole. So even if they bought a dud, dark room, customers who want the prestige but don't really know... Hopefully, they will be drunk and not reappear later.

Of course, what will they do with the withdrawn lots... If they are fake, can they be impounded? Or as Gavin says, will the be returned to the consignee regardless? We still have no definitive answers to these questions.


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URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#731 Post by JonoBeagle » February 9th, 2012, 9:13 am

Edit: full until the fireworks display had been cancelled. Most in the room were probably after the trophies and the old Champagne!!
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Re: URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#732 Post by todd waldmann » February 9th, 2012, 9:21 am

Berry Crawford wrote:
Claus Jeppesen wrote:First of all I would express my gratitude to Don s eminent work. Lots of things to learn there.
Berry Crawford wrote: I know you are just busting balls but there is no reason to asume they didn't source a real 1945 RC. I'd be very curious to know if Rudy was involved with that tasting though
Well take a look here:
http://www.ackerwines.com/Catalogs/pdf_ ... eGuide.pdf
Both a "Rudy" and an "Allen" appear in this text and it SEEMS they both were present at the tasting(s)?
Maybe a more knowledgeable person could elaborate?
/Claus
I don't see any mention of the RC tasting that Meadows writes about in his book
I recall either Kapon or Rob Rosania (I think it was Rosania, but I'm not absolutely sure), bragging about the number of times that they had tried the '45 Romanee-Conti. This discussion included tasting it w/ Allen Meadows. All the bottles they were talking about had come from either Rosania's or Rudy's cellar. I believe it was on ebob that this discussion took place, but I can't be sure. FYI, as you read Rosania's notes from the Acker catalog, Rudy is also referred to as Dr. Conti in the notes.
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Re: URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#733 Post by Todd F r e n c h » February 9th, 2012, 10:12 am

FYI, I received an email from Adam Lechmere of Decanter, apologizing for the oversight, and amending the story to give credit to Wine Berserkers as well as Jancis' article.

I wrote to the editor, and see through the chain of the email that it was forwarded to Adam, hence the reply.
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Re: URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#734 Post by Peter Chiu » February 9th, 2012, 10:27 am

I recall around end of 2004 or begining of 2005 Rob Rosania posted something about RC 45 ( on the other Board ) in his thread : Romanee Conti - The greatest wine in the World ).

Due to copy right I could not copy what exactly he said; but something similar to the effect RC is the holy grail. Its mouthfeel, complexity, elegance, pitch and performance year in and yea out. The 45 is super-legenday, yet the 1911 ( with Allen on Monday ), the 1915, 1919, 1923, 1929, 1934 and 1937 are ....hysterical. They are all 6 stars, 98-99 point wine.
Last edited by Peter Chiu on February 9th, 2012, 10:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#735 Post by Berry Crawford » February 9th, 2012, 10:29 am

todd waldmann wrote:I recall either Kapon or Rob Rosania (I think it was Rosania, but I'm not absolutely sure), bragging about the number of times that they had tried the '45 Romanee-Conti. This discussion included tasting it w/ Allen Meadows. All the bottles they were talking about had come from either Rosania's or Rudy's cellar. I believe it was on ebob that this discussion took place, but I can't be sure. FYI, as you read Rosania's notes from the Acker catalog, Rudy is also referred to as Dr. Conti in the notes.
In his book Meadows says he had tasted the 45 four times previous to the big RC tasting that they did. Of the 4 times, he is sure one of them was fake, one may have been and one was in bad condition. The forth was incredible to his tastes. Its totally probable and even likely that Rosania was in attendence at any of those.

You are totally speculating that the 5th bottle he had at the tasting (in which Rosania was in attendance as well I think) was from Rudy or was fake. Right?

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Re: URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#736 Post by alan weinberg » February 9th, 2012, 10:52 am

Peter Chiu wrote:
dcornutt wrote:
Doug Barzelay wrote:There has been a good deal of discussion on this thread about whether DRC should “authenticate” wines, much of it unfortunately proceeding from the unstated, but incorrect, premise that this is something DRC could readily do if only it were willing to devote the resources to the task. While a number of Burgundy producers are at work on technologies that in the future may serve to prove whether a bottle is or is not what it purports to be, those experiments belong to this century. For older bottles, while an expert who examines a bottle should be able to tell if there are signs that it may not be what it purports to be (as Don Cornwell has so admirably done in the case of the Spectrum bottles—better to call them that than DRC bottles), there are no comparable outward signs that would allow one to state with certainty that a bottle is “authentic.”
Until relatively recently, few Burgundy producers had to concern themselves with fraudulent bottles (DRC was not even a profitable enterprise until sometime in the 1960s), which meant they were mostly concerned with how they would sell their production, not whether someone would be motivated to counterfeit it. Other than branding corks, which only a few producers did at that time, no significant steps were taken to deter counterfeiting. But corks can be falsely branded, false labels can be printed (and made to look old), and of course corks, labels, capsules and bottles can all be pulled out of the dumpster and reused. As just one example, I have tasted a bottle of 1945 Rousseau Chambertin (so it said on the label), with a correct period bottle, capsule, label and even a branded cork—only what was in the bottle was not ’45 and not Chambertin. So to ask a domaine to say by examining the exterior of an old bottle of unknown provenance that what is inside is “authentic” is to ask it to do something beyond its capability. The same is true of wine “experts”—the best they can say is that in their opinion, after closely examining the bottle, label, capsule and cork, the bottle appears authentic, assuming of course that they know what an authentic bottle looks like. Fortunately, most counterfeiters (so far) have not taken the trouble to make really good fakes, possibly because it has for so long been so easy to pass these wines by the auction gatekeepers without having to try really hard. (As an aside, as Lewis Dawson correctly points out, labeling practices in Burgundy were not always uniform—however, the existence of legitimate variations does not mean that all variations are legitimate, and as yet there has been—not surprisingly--zero response to Don Cornwell’s request that Spectrum and its experts provide evidence that the label anomalies he cites can be found on bottles with a documented provenance.)
The best way to positively authenticate a bottle, without consuming it, is to have a clear record of its provenance. Many collectors have bottles that have been in their cellars since purchase on release, and have kept receipts or other records of their purchases. Others can trace wines to legitimate sources (Don cites several auctions of impeccable provenance in his posts). What should, however, raise red (if not black) flags to anyone concerned about such matters, is a lack of any information on the provenance of rare and expensive bottles. The complete silence of Spectrum on this point has to be disturbing to anyone concerned about authenticity—evidently including DRC, as is made clear through the press releases of both its UK and US importers. Indeed, the silence is deafening.
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Re: URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#737 Post by Mark F r a n k s » February 9th, 2012, 10:56 am

Todd F r e n c h wrote:FYI, I received an email from Adam Lechmere of Decanter, apologizing for the oversight, and amending the story to give credit to Wine Berserkers as well as Jancis' article.

I wrote to the editor, and see through the chain of the email that it was forwarded to Adam, hence the reply.
Glad to see they will give credit where it is due. I think this thread has been amazingly invaluable to the wine collecting community in whole. [thumbs-up.gif]
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Re: URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#738 Post by John Woodward » February 9th, 2012, 11:07 am

Again, kudos to Don for his extraordinary efforts. An unprecedented body of work and effect that is likely to have immense impact on the “due-diligence” expected and performed in future wine auctions by all houses, regardless of the intensity their prior due-diligence was.

Also, is it possible that the auction house bought-in the other questioned lots rather than withdrawing all of them? A covert buy-in, apparently allowed by their stated “rules.” As others have noted, the obvious question is what happens to all of the bottles at issue. Auction houses often sell unsold lots post-sale “privately.”
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Re: URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#739 Post by todd waldmann » February 9th, 2012, 11:12 am

Berry Crawford wrote:
todd waldmann wrote:I recall either Kapon or Rob Rosania (I think it was Rosania, but I'm not absolutely sure), bragging about the number of times that they had tried the '45 Romanee-Conti. This discussion included tasting it w/ Allen Meadows. All the bottles they were talking about had come from either Rosania's or Rudy's cellar. I believe it was on ebob that this discussion took place, but I can't be sure. FYI, as you read Rosania's notes from the Acker catalog, Rudy is also referred to as Dr. Conti in the notes.
In his book Meadows says he had tasted the 45 four times previous to the big RC tasting that they did. Of the 4 times, he is sure one of them was fake, one may have been and one was in bad condition. The forth was incredible to his tastes. Its totally probable and even likely that Rosania was in attendence at any of those.

You are totally speculating that the 5th bottle he had at the tasting (in which Rosania was in attendance as well I think) was from Rudy or was fake. Right?
Not at all. I'm just stating the facts that I recall. I know that it wasn't unusual for John Kapon, Rudy K & Rob Rosania to open bottles together, as there were multiple threads on the Parker board describing those nights. On at least a couple of occasions, Allen Meadows was present. I'm just speculating that it is likely that on at least one occasion, Allen Meadows tasted the '45 courtesy of either Rudy K or Rosania. The '45 RC is incredibly rare, & Rosania (I think) bragged that, between Rudy & himself, they possessed a large percentage of the world's remaining bottles. It stands to reason that, if Allen has tasted it several times & has tasted w/ Rudy K (aka Dr. Conti - I love the irony of that nickname!!) & Rosania on multiple occasions, that at least a couple of the bottles came from Rosania's or Rudy K's cellars. Fake, real, who knows?

Before anyone infers anything to the contrary, I'm not suggesting in any way that Rob Rosania has had anything to do w/ counterfeiting wine.
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Re: URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#740 Post by Steve Manzi » February 9th, 2012, 11:24 am

Berry Crawford wrote:
Peter Kleban wrote:I was wondering how good a '45 DRC would taste, given the extreme conditions in France during the last year of the war.
The 1945 RC is the only wine Allen Meadows has given 100 points too.
They say there are no great wines, only great bottles. Maybe THIS bottle really was THE bottle Allen rated 100 pts. [wink.gif]
________________________________________
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RRosania
Posts: 16
Joined: February 8th, 2012, 11:05 am

Re: URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#741 Post by RRosania » February 9th, 2012, 11:33 am

Folks,

I have refrained from commenting herein, albeit I have watched the theatre of this unfold over the last few days. Let me address the following:

The 1945 Romanee Conti which Allen Meadows rated 100 points was in fact from my cellar and I opened it at a dinner in Los Angeles with some friends, and especially with Allen in attendance. A few weeks thereafter, a "sister" bottle of 1945 Romanee Conti was sold at my champagne auction in NYC at Cru. The gentlemen (European) who purchased the wine was in attendance (as was the underbidder, who previously posted herein). The underbidder whos is a MASTER of burgundy for decades bid on the bottle b/c of what he heard from Allen. Nevertheless, he was outbid at the last by Mr. European.

A short time ago, a friend from Europe attended a dinner with "Mr. European" and Aubert de Villaine, where this bottle was opened. Again, i was NOT in attendance, nor have I spoken to Mr. European about it, but ou mutual frined said the following: "Upon drinking the 45 RC from your cellar, Aubert declared this was simply the GREATEST bottle of wine he had EVER drank". Draw whatever conclusions you choose from that statement (and there are others who can independently corroborate that story), but it would be hard to think anything other than Aubert, Mr. European, Allen, Jon and I were drinking 45 RC. The REAL 45 RC.

While i have experienced the issue Doug alluded to in his post some time ago in this thread, and those experiences are crest falling, there is NO experience (great or awful) like opening up these beautiful treasures and getting the experience alluded to above. Those of you who know me, know that I have always believed in opening what i own, regardless of it's theoretical or lack of theoretical value, i have always acribed to the theory the wine is meant to be drunk. As a result, and let's not forget for all he is ACCUSED of, Rudy was among the most generous openers of wine the world has known, anyone who opens alot, inevitably is let down for a variety of reasons, only one of which is incorrect label to wine presentation. As Doug correctly points out, unless the wine has NEVER left the Domaine, and that Domaine is BEYOND REPROACH, there is absolutely NO way to certify these old bottles are absolutely legitimate. There are COUNTLESS examples of receipts since purchase held by the original owner and the wine turns out to NOT be what the label or reciept makes it out to be. COUNTLESS. Furthermore, as someone else noted, there is NO WAY to prove a negative without a) a reference standard (they don't exist) and b) destructuve testing.

Recently, at the Mt. Sinai wine charity event which i Chair in memory of my father who died of inoperable, pancreatic cancer on December 10, 2005 (the same morning I attended a wine auction of Acker's at Cru), I opened a Methusaleh of 1978 Romanee Conti, which 2 auction houses had rejected for "fear of the large format", albeit NO fear about anything suspicious about the bottle. Since I DO NOT plan on posting any photos of the bottle online, and there were REAL Burgundy experts as well as "wine consultants" there who are impeccable in their reputations, I can say two things: a) the label DOES NOT resemble the one in the photo posted from the internet, and b) it was EASILY the best 78 RC anyone present had ever had. I am sure there are those of you who know who was present and can ask them independently, but open nosing and drinking the wine, one of the folks said "well, there is ABSOLUTELY NO DOUBT this is 78 RC".

My point in all this is to address the tenor of this thread which is days old and frankly overwhelmingly, repetitively negative.

Wine is a BEAUTIFUL thing, and it is a "gentlemen's business" at this level - meaning when there is an issue it should be addressed directly and privately, instead of screaming from the rooftops. I am in no way, shape or form criticizing Don for his alert, please understand that; however, we have gone from innocent until proven guilty to automatically guilty and even by association - that is truly un-American. Yes, there are those wines which dissapoint immensely, and there are those which do so from bad intent, but in the last 5 years, the world of wine has gone from one of ENJOYMENT to one of DISGUST. I think i can state without fear of contradiction, that whenever I have opened wine, regardless of value, rarity or desireability, I have shared with whomever was there to the xtent humanly possible. I believe MOST of you whether I have personally met you or not have the same spirit of generosity and core desire to share what you have again regardless of value. Maybe sometimes, you are interested in or not interested in what others have to share with you, but nevertheless, i dont believe the "general tenor" of typical wine consumers at this level is absent of sharing. Thats what we do. Some have more to share, some have less, but sharing isnt about the quantity, it is about the desire.

However, I remember years ago at events like Paulee, when sharing was simple - here is my 59 Richebourg Jeroboam, let's drink, and people JUST DRANK. They didn't spend 15 minutes reviewing the bottle, looking at the pundt, checking out the label, feeling the cork and generally "snooping" into the legitimacy of the wines appearance from the EXTERNAL perspective. They enjoyed the wine. They liked it or didn't, but the first assumption wasn't "Is it real" ? Today, that is NO LONGER the case. Anything of remote rarity or format rarity is scrutinized like each drinker were purchasing the entire bottle and being put on trial regarding it's veracity, and as a result, the ENJOYMENT of the wine turns into anything but that PURELY. It's like walking down the street in Rome, fingering the keyboard of your blackberry eyes focused downward, as you pass the Coliseum. The ageless wonder is besmirched by the attitude of anything other than adoration and AWE at what it is. REAGRDLESS of what it is. Clearly, if it isn't awe inspiring, there will be no AWE, if it is, there will be.

This is the predominate reason I have decided NOT to attend Paulee SF this year. 2 Years ago, i brought an UNDENIABLE Jeroboam of 1962 Romanee Conti (among others) to the dinner, the bottle of which i still possess signed by Allen Meadows after he said "I have NEVER had 1962 Romanee Conti as good as this", and yet, despite a "benchmark" individual ascribing it's veracity who has had as close to reference standard as exists, PLENTY of people started a hub-a-bub, the bottle was fughese. They were thrilled to try it, but not thrilled to admit it could actually be the real thing. This is one of a myriad examples which counter-act the examples which are mentioned herein about wines NOT being what they should be. Last year at Paulee NYC, I opened a Jeroboam of 49 LaTache, which of course according to all the "experts" doesn't exist" (except the only one who REALLY Matters, AdV, who said "No question thats 49 LaTache"), and it was corked. I was crest fallen, as you can imagine. Nevertheless, there were some who didn't believe it was corked, albeit I agreed with my friend who was handling the wine (a master sommelier) as did a number of others on this board. That risk i am TOTALLY willing to take, although, I must admit, I was quite devastated. No-one questioned the veracity of the LT Jero, even without AdV in attendance attesting to it's bulletproof accuracy, BUT also since the wine sat in a decanter for the rest of the night, also no-one drank it, so there was no room for "speculation"...

Here is my simple point: Let's remember there are NO WINE POLICE (although those of you who know my children, know there are "Whining Police"), and there is NO reference standard. Let's go back to enjoying the beauty of wine, the scarcity of it, the thrill of Victory when an incredible bottle is opened, and instead of having a thread focused on 15 pages of negativity, let's have one focused on 15 pages of positive wine loving experiences on a single thread.

I have never, and likely will never post here again, so do with this as you choose, BUT, remember, wine is about joy; champagne about celebration. Life is full of thrills and disappointments, let's focus more on the thrills. Makes everything more thrilling.

:)

Rob

Gareth Welch
Posts: 65
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Re: URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#742 Post by Gareth Welch » February 9th, 2012, 11:39 am

Thread of the Millennium for sure - may I be the billionth to say thank you to Don et al. for keeping us all so entertained, informed and enthralled over the past few days.

One quick question, whats the skinny on this Rupert Millar chappie - just sloppy lazy journalism or is he a PR or somesuch for Spectrum/Vanquish??

Peter Chiu
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Re: URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#743 Post by Peter Chiu » February 9th, 2012, 11:43 am

RRosania wrote:Folks,

I have refrained from commenting herein, albeit I have watched the theatre of this unfold over the last few days. Let me address the following:

The 1945 Romanee Conti which Allen Meadows rated 100 points was in fact from my cellar and I opened it at a dinner in Los Angeles with some friends, and especially with Allen in attendance. A few weeks thereafter, a "sister" bottle of 1945 Romanee Conti was sold at my champagne auction in NYC at Cru. The gentlemen (European) who purchased the wine was in attendance (as was the underbidder, who previously posted herein). The underbidder whos is a MASTER of burgundy for decades bid on the bottle b/c of what he heard from Allen. Nevertheless, he was outbid at the last by Mr. European.

A short time ago, a friend from Europe attended a dinner with "Mr. European" and Aubert de Villaine, where this bottle was opened. Again, i was NOT in attendance, nor have I spoken to Mr. European about it, but ou mutual frined said the following: "Upon drinking the 45 RC from your cellar, Aubert declared this was simply the GREATEST bottle of wine he had EVER drank". Draw whatever conclusions you choose from that statement (and there are others who can independently corroborate that story), but it would be hard to think anything other than Aubert, Mr. European, Allen, Jon and I were drinking 45 RC. The REAL 45 RC.

While i have experienced the issue Doug alluded to in his post some time ago in this thread, and those experiences are crest falling, there is NO experience (great or awful) like opening up these beautiful treasures and getting the experience alluded to above. Those of you who know me, know that I have always believed in opening what i own, regardless of it's theoretical or lack of theoretical value, i have always acribed to the theory the wine is meant to be drunk. As a result, and let's not forget for all he is ACCUSED of, Rudy was among the most generous openers of wine the world has known, anyone who opens alot, inevitably is let down for a variety of reasons, only one of which is incorrect label to wine presentation. As Doug correctly points out, unless the wine has NEVER left the Domaine, and that Domaine is BEYOND REPROACH, there is absolutely NO way to certify these old bottles are absolutely legitimate. There are COUNTLESS examples of receipts since purchase held by the original owner and the wine turns out to NOT be what the label or reciept makes it out to be. COUNTLESS. Furthermore, as someone else noted, there is NO WAY to prove a negative without a) a reference standard (they don't exist) and b) destructuve testing.

Recently, at the Mt. Sinai wine charity event which i Chair in memory of my father who died of inoperable, pancreatic cancer on December 10, 2005 (the same morning I attended a wine auction of Acker's at Cru), I opened a Methusaleh of 1978 Romanee Conti, which 2 auction houses had rejected for "fear of the large format", albeit NO fear about anything suspicious about the bottle. Since I DO NOT plan on posting any photos of the bottle online, and there were REAL Burgundy experts as well as "wine consultants" there who are impeccable in their reputations, I can say two things: a) the label DOES NOT resemble the one in the photo posted from the internet, and b) it was EASILY the best 78 RC anyone present had ever had. I am sure there are those of you who know who was present and can ask them independently, but open nosing and drinking the wine, one of the folks said "well, there is ABSOLUTELY NO DOUBT this is 78 RC".

My point in all this is to address the tenor of this thread which is days old and frankly overwhelmingly, repetitively negative.

Wine is a BEAUTIFUL thing, and it is a "gentlemen's business" at this level - meaning when there is an issue it should be addressed directly and privately, instead of screaming from the rooftops. I am in no way, shape or form criticizing Don for his alert, please understand that; however, we have gone from innocent until proven guilty to automatically guilty and even by association - that is truly un-American. Yes, there are those wines which dissapoint immensely, and there are those which do so from bad intent, but in the last 5 years, the world of wine has gone from one of ENJOYMENT to one of DISGUST. I think i can state without fear of contradiction, that whenever I have opened wine, regardless of value, rarity or desireability, I have shared with whomever was there to the xtent humanly possible. I believe MOST of you whether I have personally met you or not have the same spirit of generosity and core desire to share what you have again regardless of value. Maybe sometimes, you are interested in or not interested in what others have to share with you, but nevertheless, i dont believe the "general tenor" of typical wine consumers at this level is absent of sharing. Thats what we do. Some have more to share, some have less, but sharing isnt about the quantity, it is about the desire.

However, I remember years ago at events like Paulee, when sharing was simple - here is my 59 Richebourg Jeroboam, let's drink, and people JUST DRANK. They didn't spend 15 minutes reviewing the bottle, looking at the pundt, checking out the label, feeling the cork and generally "snooping" into the legitimacy of the wines appearance from the EXTERNAL perspective. They enjoyed the wine. They liked it or didn't, but the first assumption wasn't "Is it real" ? Today, that is NO LONGER the case. Anything of remote rarity or format rarity is scrutinized like each drinker were purchasing the entire bottle and being put on trial regarding it's veracity, and as a result, the ENJOYMENT of the wine turns into anything but that PURELY. It's like walking down the street in Rome, fingering the keyboard of your blackberry eyes focused downward, as you pass the Coliseum. The ageless wonder is besmirched by the attitude of anything other than adoration and AWE at what it is. REAGRDLESS of what it is. Clearly, if it isn't awe inspiring, there will be no AWE, if it is, there will be.

This is the predominate reason I have decided NOT to attend Paulee SF this year. 2 Years ago, i brought an UNDENIABLE Jeroboam of 1962 Romanee Conti (among others) to the dinner, the bottle of which i still possess signed by Allen Meadows after he said "I have NEVER had 1962 Romanee Conti as good as this", and yet, despite a "benchmark" individual ascribing it's veracity who has had as close to reference standard as exists, PLENTY of people started a hub-a-bub, the bottle was fughese. They were thrilled to try it, but not thrilled to admit it could actually be the real thing. This is one of a myriad examples which counter-act the examples which are mentioned herein about wines NOT being what they should be. Last year at Paulee NYC, I opened a Jeroboam of 49 LaTache, which of course according to all the "experts" doesn't exist" (except the only one who REALLY Matters, AdV, who said "No question thats 49 LaTache"), and it was corked. I was crest fallen, as you can imagine. Nevertheless, there were some who didn't believe it was corked, albeit I agreed with my friend who was handling the wine (a master sommelier) as did a number of others on this board. That risk i am TOTALLY willing to take, although, I must admit, I was quite devastated. No-one questioned the veracity of the LT Jero, even without AdV in attendance attesting to it's bulletproof accuracy, BUT also since the wine sat in a decanter for the rest of the night, also no-one drank it, so there was no room for "speculation"...

Here is my simple point: Let's remember there are NO WINE POLICE (although those of you who know my children, know there are "Whining Police"), and there is NO reference standard. Let's go back to enjoying the beauty of wine, the scarcity of it, the thrill of Victory when an incredible bottle is opened, and instead of having a thread focused on 15 pages of negativity, let's have one focused on 15 pages of positive wine loving experiences on a single thread.

I have never, and likely will never post here again, so do with this as you choose, BUT, remember, wine is about joy; champagne about celebration. Life is full of thrills and disappointments, let's focus more on the thrills. Makes everything more thrilling.

:)

Rob

Welcome to the Board , Rob. [cheers.gif]

Nice to see you here.

Chris Sihler
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Re: URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#744 Post by Chris Sihler » February 9th, 2012, 11:53 am

Cornwell claims that he was told by somebody at Spectrum that Kurniawan was behind some of the lots, and that a longtime associate of Kurniawan's was the consignor. Asked if that was so, Boland replied, “I think I’d rather not comment except to say that [Kurniawan] is not a consignor.” Kurniawan did not respond to two e-mails asking whether any of his wines were in the sale.
From Wine Spectator online

Thomas Concilio
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Re: URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#745 Post by Thomas Concilio » February 9th, 2012, 11:53 am

Rob,

Some very interesting points. Even though there has been a lot of negativity bantered about, this is the underlying point. I think everybody can agree upon. If you are selling a highly valued item, in this case '45 DRC, it better be what you say it is. Nobody wants to pay that kind of $$ for a fake. Even if the wine is wonderful, you paid for the original artical.

Don,

While I don't buy these types of wines, I thank you for taking the time to warn us. I have been reading this with fascination for several days. And, have learned a lot in the process. Bravo!
ITB - Retail

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Bruce Leiser_owitz
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Re: URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#746 Post by Bruce Leiser_owitz » February 9th, 2012, 11:59 am

RRosania wrote:

Wine is a BEAUTIFUL thing, and it is a "gentlemen's business" at this level - meaning when there is an issue it should be addressed directly and privately, instead of screaming from the rooftops. I am in no way, shape or form criticizing Don for his alert, please understand that; however, we have gone from innocent until proven guilty to automatically guilty and even by association - that is truly un-American. Yes, there are those wines which dissapoint immensely, and there are those which do so from bad intent, but in the last 5 years, the world of wine has gone from one of ENJOYMENT to one of DISGUST. I think i can state without fear of contradiction, that whenever I have opened wine, regardless of value, rarity or desireability, I have shared with whomever was there to the xtent humanly possible. I believe MOST of you whether I have personally met you or not have the same spirit of generosity and core desire to share what you have again regardless of value. Maybe sometimes, you are interested in or not interested in what others have to share with you, but nevertheless, i dont believe the "general tenor" of typical wine consumers at this level is absent of sharing. Thats what we do. Some have more to share, some have less, but sharing isnt about the quantity, it is about the desire.

Rob
Rob--Welcome, even if your post might be your one and only here.

Having said that, there clearly ARE counterfeit wines out there in the market, and that is a discussion that should take place openly and in public. And while some of the signs of counterfeit wines can be subtle, other signs are clearer and almost certainly mean that what is inside the bottle is not what the label purports it to be. Again, that is a subject completely and thoroughly appropriate to be discussed openly and publicly; not for some private "gentlemanly" discussion reserved for a select few.

While there is a tremendous amount of sharing and generosity in the world of wine--at ALL levels, I might add--there is also the economic motive for people to put forward bottles that aren't what they purport to be. Or for auction houses that won't even disclose the most basic of information of the claimed provenance of the bottle they offer to the public.

Bruce
"Bruce you are correct."--Andrew Kaufman, 3/24/13.

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RyanC
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Re: URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#747 Post by RyanC » February 9th, 2012, 12:12 pm

Rob: I would think that, of all people, you would have the greatest interest in preventing and prosecuting wine forgery. After all, for most of us this is a theoretical discussion -- but you play in this league. If I were buying vintage, large-format DRC, I would sure as hell want to know it was real and to punish the forgers. No one can be so rich that they can shrug off an expensive fake, right?

Most wine lovers appreciate your sentiment that wine is about sharing and enjoyment -- and there's no doubt that questioning the authenticity of someone else's bottle when that person has been nice enough to pour for you is just bad manners -- but don't you think that upstanding people in the auction business (auction houses, consigners, buyers, even producers) have every reason to be up in arms about this. For me, I know that my enjoyment of wine would be dramatically DECREASED if I thought every time I opened a special-occasion wine there was a chance it was a forgery. Luckily, I don't think anyone is forging my special-occasion wines. But there's a very good incentive for people to forge your special-occasion wines. If I were in your situation, I would sleep easier if the auction houses were as diligent as possible about stamping out forgeries, and if assessments like Don's become more common.

I do share your concern about the negativity about all of this, and I worry it has become a bit of a witch hunt, given that very few of us have even close to enough facts to point fingers (although the evidence against Rudy seems pretty damning). Regardless, under any estimation this thread has been very constructive and informative (and refreshingly devoid of hostility, for the most part).
C@ughey

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Re: URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#748 Post by k s h i n » February 9th, 2012, 12:17 pm

RRosania wrote:Rudy was among the most generous openers of wine the world has known, anyone who opens alot, inevitably is let down for a variety of reasons, only one of which is incorrect label to wine presentation. Rob
I definitely respect you for the above statement.
Kevin
ITB - I may be offering some of the wines that I drink and post TNs on.

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Re: URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#749 Post by BuffaloLou Saad » February 9th, 2012, 12:25 pm

Thomas Concilio wrote:Don,

While I don't buy these types of wines, I thank you for taking the time to warn us. I have been reading this with fascination for several days. And, have learned a lot in the process. Bravo!
+1 Well said, Thomas.

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Re: URGENT WARNING--RUDY KURNIAWAN IS TRYING TO AUCTION MORE WINES

#750 Post by Maureen Downey » February 9th, 2012, 1:47 pm

Rob –
While I appreciate your spirit of generosity/sharing and enjoyment – I do not think it appropriate for you to ask a community of consumers to accept your high threshold of risk in the face of financial loss– simply because you have.

The fact is that the industry/market has been flooded with fraudulent bottles through a combination of dodgy auctions and unscrupulous brokers and retailers. Substantiating this fraud as simply “part of the risk” does not excuse it and should not be a reason to belittle an effort to clean it up – WHILE still enjoying wine. The resulting lack of faith in the industry fraud has caused has chased more people away than not – and too many are failing to “enjoy” fine wines as they should because of the very bad taste the fraud scandals have placed in their mouths.

I know wine collectors who have at least 10 times your net worth, others with likely less than a 10th – and those who fall everywhere in between. These “gentlemen” are NOT okay being sold fake wines at any level. So it is not about net worth. What one is willing to spend is personal – and should not have a bearing on whether or not they are allowed to be legitimately outraged by what is simply – FRAUD.

We have to reinstate trust in this industry. Requests for people to simply accept the fraud as ‘part’ of the deal – is no longer acceptable. Fact is that over the last few years it has only served to chase too many out of what should be a “gentlemen's business” including an expected level of integrity and confidence in vendors and the products they are offering. “Gentlemen” should not be screwing their “friends” by failing to complete proper diligence and selling them fakes – or by asking those who would like to trust in the industry again to simply look the other way. What the fraudsters have done is less than “gentlemanly” and they should be called out accordingly.

Yes – this is my business. It has been my business for well over a decade. I could probably make more money if the fraud prevailed and I had lots of guys hiring me to do authentication. But it makes me sick – and I would be far happier in a thriving market that had the trust and support of a larger base of consumers due to restored confidence in the authenticity of fine & rare wines in the marketplace.

You will be missed at La Paulee.
Cheers,
Maureen
#ChaiVault, WineFraud

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