RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8701 Post by James Kennedy » June 6th, 2020, 7:48 pm

E4620771-4834-401F-92BD-6F1A5D3FFBE8.jpeg

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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8702 Post by Mark Golodetz » June 7th, 2020, 4:19 am

The auction is on Thursday; the lot is still there. Barring some Ponsot type intervention, some lucky person is likely to spend $20k on God knows what. Is there no authority in Hong Kong one can direct the doubts raised by Don here on Berserkers?
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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8703 Post by Jan Janas » June 7th, 2020, 5:06 am

James Kennedy wrote:
June 6th, 2020, 7:48 pm
E4620771-4834-401F-92BD-6F1A5D3FFBE8.jpeg
[rofl.gif]

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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8704 Post by HoosJustinG » June 7th, 2020, 8:34 am

Mark Golodetz wrote:
June 7th, 2020, 4:19 am
The auction is on Thursday; the lot is still there. Barring some Ponsot type intervention, some lucky person is likely to spend $20k on God knows what. Is there no authority in Hong Kong one can direct the doubts raised by Don here on Berserkers?
Unfortunately, the authorities in Hong Kong now reside in Beijing. Sad state of affairs in one of the world’s most incredible cities.
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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8705 Post by Jürgen Steinke » June 7th, 2020, 8:43 am

It seems that Hong Kong is the perfect play ground for fraudsters.

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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8706 Post by John Danza » June 7th, 2020, 12:14 pm

Don Cornwell wrote:
June 6th, 2020, 5:23 pm
Here is another example of a 1920's DRC -- this one from the 1926 DRC Les Gaudichots. This photo was provided by Doug Barzelay who, along with Allen Meadows, co-authored Burgundy Vintages - A History from 1845. This photo appeared in that book in a smaller format.

Image

Here, again, note the smooth-sided glass characteristic of the period - which is quite unlike the uneven and warped/bubbled surface on the purported 1924 Romanée Conti offered in the Acker sale.

The bottle of 1924 Romanée Conti sold at Zachy's on September 28, 2012 as Lot 1378 apparently was the same bottle being offered by Acker. According to the catalog there was no label on the bottle sold at Zachy's in 2012 and the bottle had been purchased from Collector's Cellar (Bipin Desai) on "January 16, 1864." The date mistake, while comical in the present context, is actually much closer to the date of the glass bottle than 1924 is.

On inquiry to Zachy's I learned that Zachy's had a handwritten invoice from Collector's Cellar to Aziz Kahn which was dated January 16, 1984. The invoice contained a handwritten note stating: "Aziz: These are odds and ends bottles mostly purchased while I was in Europe." The invoice listed a single bottle of 1924 Romanee Conti (with no indication it was lacking a label or capsule or or had strange glass) and stated that the bottle was FOB London. 1984 was, of course, the heyday of Hardy Rodenstock and Bipin attended various dinners hosted by Hardy Rodenstock. Still it seems hard to believe that Bipin Desai would have purchased an unlabeled bottle of purported 1924 Romanee Conti with glass that appeared to date from the mid-1800s from anyone.

Don, this sort of makes me think that we can't really trust Zachy's authentication either. In 2012 both Rodenstock and Rudy were widely exposed. So the purchase in 1984 might have been excusable, but assuming this bottle was ok in 2012 based on a 1984 receipt sure isn't.
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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8707 Post by NoahR » June 7th, 2020, 12:55 pm

John Danza wrote:
Don, this sort of makes me think that we can't really trust Zachy's authentication either. In 2012 both Rodenstock and Rudy were widely exposed. So the purchase in 1984 might have been excusable, but assuming this bottle was ok in 2012 based on a 1984 receipt sure isn't.
newhere

Wait - you can’t trust Acker authentication?
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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8708 Post by Don Cornwell » June 7th, 2020, 5:35 pm

Mark Golodetz wrote:
June 7th, 2020, 4:19 am
The auction is on Thursday; the lot is still there. Barring some Ponsot type intervention, some lucky person is likely to spend $20k on God knows what. Is there no authority in Hong Kong one can direct the doubts raised by Don here on Berserkers?
Mark:

One of my colleagues has notified the Hong Kong authorities that oversee wine auctions. However, Hong Kong generally will not intervene to remove bottles on the grounds that they are counterfeit unless the domaine or chateau in question gets directly involved and requests action from the government. The bottles would be seized under that scenario. We have notified DRC and their Hong Kong agents about the problem, and have received an acknowledgment from DRC's Hong Kong agent.

It has been very difficult to get DRC involved in dealing with government agencies on matters relating to counterfeiting after the Alexander Iugov (a/k/a Alexander Anikin) case. As you may remember, Alexander Anikin ran a ring based in Russia and Italy that created and distributed counterfeit DRC wines. He was arrested by Interpol on a trip to France and was convicted for distributing counterfeit DRC wines on a significant scale. DRC devoted considerable time to that investigation and prosecution. Following his conviction the Judge sentenced him to time served while awaiting trial. I can assure you that Aubert was quite angry about that.
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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8709 Post by Don Cornwell » June 7th, 2020, 5:40 pm

John Danza wrote:
June 7th, 2020, 12:14 pm
Don, this sort of makes me think that we can't really trust Zachy's authentication either. In 2012 both Rodenstock and Rudy were widely exposed. So the purchase in 1984 might have been excusable, but assuming this bottle was ok in 2012 based on a 1984 receipt sure isn't.
John:

My friend Geoffrey Troy became involved in authenticating the wines at Zachy's in January of 2013. Zachy's senior auction personnel have also changed. So things have gotten a lot more trustworthy at Zachy's since the bottle in question was sold in 2012.
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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8710 Post by HoosJustinG » June 7th, 2020, 6:03 pm

Don Cornwell wrote:
June 7th, 2020, 5:40 pm
John Danza wrote:
June 7th, 2020, 12:14 pm
Don, this sort of makes me think that we can't really trust Zachy's authentication either. In 2012 both Rodenstock and Rudy were widely exposed. So the purchase in 1984 might have been excusable, but assuming this bottle was ok in 2012 based on a 1984 receipt sure isn't.
John:

My friend Geoffrey Troy became involved in authenticating the wines at Zachy's in January of 2013. Zachy's senior auction personnel have also changed. So things have gotten a lot more trustworthy at Zachy's since the bottle in question was sold in 2012.
Don, I’m not sure if you’re comfortable naming names in a negative way, but as someone just barely dipping my feet into the auction world (which is probably where I’ll stay — in the shallow end), do you mind sharing which auction houses where you do trust their authentication team?
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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8711 Post by Don Cornwell » June 7th, 2020, 6:52 pm

HoosJustinG wrote:
June 7th, 2020, 6:03 pm
Don Cornwell wrote:
June 7th, 2020, 5:40 pm
John Danza wrote:
June 7th, 2020, 12:14 pm
Don, this sort of makes me think that we can't really trust Zachy's authentication either. In 2012 both Rodenstock and Rudy were widely exposed. So the purchase in 1984 might have been excusable, but assuming this bottle was ok in 2012 based on a 1984 receipt sure isn't.
John:

My friend Geoffrey Troy became involved in authenticating the wines at Zachy's in January of 2013. Zachy's senior auction personnel have also changed. So things have gotten a lot more trustworthy at Zachy's since the bottle in question was sold in 2012.
Don, I’m not sure if you’re comfortable naming names in a negative way, but as someone just barely dipping my feet into the auction world (which is probably where I’ll stay — in the shallow end), do you mind sharing which auction houses where you do trust their authentication team?
Only two auction houses would get my long-term seal of approval: Hart-Davis-Hart and Sotheby's. I trust the Zachy's authentication team since 2013 when Geoff Troy got involved in the authentication process there. However, I did have a major problem with Zachy's management's decision to sell additional wines from Eric Greenberg, who was found in the Koch v. Greenberg lawsuit to have knowingly and intentionally sold counterfeit wines at auction which were purchased by Bill Koch. The problem is that none of us are perfect and we can't catch them all.
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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8712 Post by Patrick Stella » June 8th, 2020, 1:08 pm

HoosJustinG wrote:
June 7th, 2020, 6:03 pm
Don Cornwell wrote:
June 7th, 2020, 5:40 pm
John Danza wrote:
June 7th, 2020, 12:14 pm
Don, this sort of makes me think that we can't really trust Zachy's authentication either. In 2012 both Rodenstock and Rudy were widely exposed. So the purchase in 1984 might have been excusable, but assuming this bottle was ok in 2012 based on a 1984 receipt sure isn't.
John:

My friend Geoffrey Troy became involved in authenticating the wines at Zachy's in January of 2013. Zachy's senior auction personnel have also changed. So things have gotten a lot more trustworthy at Zachy's since the bottle in question was sold in 2012.
Don, I’m not sure if you’re comfortable naming names in a negative way
If that was intended as humor, it's the post of the year. [rofl.gif]
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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8713 Post by Mark Golodetz » June 8th, 2020, 1:25 pm

Don Cornwell wrote:
June 7th, 2020, 5:35 pm
Mark Golodetz wrote:
June 7th, 2020, 4:19 am
The auction is on Thursday; the lot is still there. Barring some Ponsot type intervention, some lucky person is likely to spend $20k on God knows what. Is there no authority in Hong Kong one can direct the doubts raised by Don here on Berserkers?
Mark:

One of my colleagues has notified the Hong Kong authorities that oversee wine auctions. However, Hong Kong generally will not intervene to remove bottles on the grounds that they are counterfeit unless the domaine or chateau in question gets directly involved and requests action from the government. The bottles would be seized under that scenario. We have notified DRC and their Hong Kong agents about the problem, and have received an acknowledgment from DRC's Hong Kong agent.

It has been very difficult to get DRC involved in dealing with government agencies on matters relating to counterfeiting after the Alexander Iugov (a/k/a Alexander Anikin) case. As you may remember, Alexander Anikin ran a ring based in Russia and Italy that created and distributed counterfeit DRC wines. He was arrested by Interpol on a trip to France and was convicted for distributing counterfeit DRC wines on a significant scale. DRC devoted considerable time to that investigation and prosecution. Following his conviction the Judge sentenced him to time served while awaiting trial. I can assure you that Aubert was quite angry about that.
Thanks Don. I can understand Aubert’s annoyance. Some rich guy getting suckered; it seems that the one constant is that it is almost being treated like a victimless crime. Sentences are ridiculously light (Rudy being the exception) and it obviously encourages others to fake.

.
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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8714 Post by Wes Barton » June 8th, 2020, 2:12 pm

Mark Golodetz wrote:
June 8th, 2020, 1:25 pm
Thanks Don. I can understand Aubert’s annoyance. Some rich guy getting suckered; it seems that the one constant is that it is almost being treated like a victimless crime. Sentences are ridiculously light (Rudy being the exception) and it obviously encourages others to fake.

.
The other side of that coin is a slap-on-the-wrist approach to white collar crime in general. It's not like he was hungry and stole of loaf of bread, ya know...
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Re: Update on Acker Hong Kong Auction

#8715 Post by Don Cornwell » June 8th, 2020, 2:29 pm

I was informed by a friend in Hong Kong that Lot 710 -- the purported 1924 Romanee Conti -- has been withdrawn from the Acker auction. I have received no communication from Acker in response to any of my emails. However, there was an article published on a Hong Kong wine website this morning, which contained confirmation from Acker Hong Kong's Andrew Bigbee that the lot has been withdrawn: https://vino-joy.com/2020/06/08/acker-w ... g-auction/

The article quotes Acker Hong Kong CEO Bigbee as stating that Lot 710 "was withdrawn from the auction last Thursday.” While I didn't check the Acker website myself until late yesterday, Marc Golodetz reported on Sunday at 7:19 am Eastern Daylight time that Lot 710 was still there in the catalog. I have downloaded the PDF catalog again. The photograph of Lot 710 which was page 159 of the catalog has now been deleted - it is as though it was never there. Page 160 of the catalog, which provided the text describing the lot, has now been changed and the entry for Lot 710 simply says "No Lot."
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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8716 Post by brigcampbell » June 8th, 2020, 2:44 pm

MikeL238 wrote:
June 5th, 2020, 8:02 am
I wonder if he'll pull that bottle out of the auction now that it's been noticed by some group of people. It would be an utter shame if it's actually sold.
Oh, once Don lights a fire the smoke is visible around the globe.

People will see that post, by various means, and then the "inquiries" come flooding in.

The pressure will be on and inescapable.

It'll get pulled

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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8717 Post by Howard Cooper » June 8th, 2020, 3:15 pm

Don, these are clearly not the types of wines I buy in any case, but I have a lot of admiration for the amount of work you do in preventing wine fraud. For me, a number of years ago I stopped buying wine retail at Acker (or, of course, through auction). Why support their business when there are so many reputable retailers in the world. Even though I doubt they are committing fraud on the level of wines I would buy retail, I would feel dirty buying from them.
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Re: Update on Acker Hong Kong Auction

#8718 Post by ClarkstonMark » June 8th, 2020, 3:42 pm

Don Cornwell wrote:
June 8th, 2020, 2:29 pm
I was informed by a friend in Hong Kong that Lot 710 -- the purported 1924 Romanee Conti -- has been withdrawn from the Acker auction. I have received no communication from Acker in response to any of my emails. However, there was an article published on a Hong Kong wine website this morning, which contained confirmation from Acker Hong Kong's Andrew Bigbee that the lot has been withdrawn: https://vino-joy.com/2020/06/08/acker-w ... g-auction/

The article quotes Acker Hong Kong CEO Bigbee as stating that Lot 710 "was withdrawn from the auction last Thursday.” While I didn't check the Acker website myself until late yesterday, Marc Golodetz reported on Sunday at 7:19 am Eastern Daylight time that Lot 710 was still there in the catalog. I have downloaded the PDF catalog again. The photograph of Lot 710 which was page 159 of the catalog has now been deleted - it is as though it was never there. Page 160 of the catalog, which provided the text describing the lot, has now been changed and the entry for Lot 710 simply says "No Lot."
I think you should know by now that Kapon is not going to communicate with you. You didn’t really expect a response from him did you?
The outcome is exactly what I expected when you brought this up ... Ignore you, but pull the lot.
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Re: Update on Acker Hong Kong Auction

#8719 Post by Don Cornwell » June 8th, 2020, 3:57 pm

ClarkstonMark wrote:
June 8th, 2020, 3:42 pm
I think you should know by now that Kapon is not going to communicate with you. You didn’t really expect a response from him did you?
The outcome is exactly what I expected when you brought this up ... Ignore you, but pull the lot.
Perhaps you're right Mark. I am least glad that that lot was pulled. Sometimes in the past Acker simply went ahead and sold the lot in question anyway.
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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8720 Post by Don Cornwell » June 10th, 2020, 12:15 am

Wine Searcher's W Blake Gray posted an article about Lot 710 today with quotes from Acker about the withdrawal of the 1924 Romanee Conti. https://www.wine-searcher.com/m/2020/06 ... er-protest Mr. Gray asks very thought provoking questions about anonymous lots like this one.
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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8721 Post by Jürgen Steinke » June 10th, 2020, 5:06 am

Well Don – it seems that Mr. Kapon is not your best friend. But I guess you can live with that. Thanks for your constant fight against fraud. If I had to award a medal you would be one of the first persons to get one.

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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8722 Post by Mark Golodetz » June 10th, 2020, 5:24 am

Great work by both you and Blake. I don’t think Don, you will be invited to the next John Kapon Sunday lunch.

Glad to see it withdrawn, but the questions about that consignment and the vendor are still unanswered. Given the lack of transparency, and paraphrasing the article by Blake, you have to be a fool to buy from this auction.
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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8723 Post by Victor Hong » June 10th, 2020, 8:36 am

Don Cornwell wrote:
June 10th, 2020, 12:15 am
Wine Searcher's W Blake Gray posted an article about Lot 710 today with quotes from Acker about the withdrawal of the 1924 Romanee Conti. https://www.wine-searcher.com/m/2020/06 ... er-protest Mr. Gray asks very thought provoking questions about anonymous lots like this one.
Mark Golodetz wrote:
June 10th, 2020, 5:24 am
Great work by both you and Blake. I don’t think Don, you will be invited to the next John Kapon Sunday lunch.

Glad to see it withdrawn, but the questions about that consignment and the vendor are still unanswered. Given the lack of transparency, and paraphrasing the article by Blake, you have to be a fool to buy from this auction.
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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8724 Post by brigcampbell » June 19th, 2020, 3:16 pm

Hey Don,

Check out this guy's cellar. https://www.cellartracker.com/user.asp? ... ide=486936

The person is active, they were just in CT two days ago.

here's a list of wines they have purchased from the store "Rudy Kurniawan"
https://www.cellartracker.com/list.asp? ... +Kurniawan

here's a fun report, by producer by vintage from the store Rudy Kurniawan

https://www.cellartracker.com/list.asp? ... t2=Vintage


it's like the motherload of fake wines

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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8725 Post by A1ex H » June 19th, 2020, 3:27 pm

brigcampbell wrote:
June 19th, 2020, 3:16 pm
Hey Don,

Check out this guy's cellar. https://www.cellartracker.com/user.asp? ... ide=486936

The person is active, they were just in CT two days ago.

here's a list of wines they have purchased from the store "Rudy Kurniawan"
https://www.cellartracker.com/list.asp? ... +Kurniawan

here's a fun report, by producer by vintage from the store Rudy Kurniawan

https://www.cellartracker.com/list.asp? ... t2=Vintage


it's like the motherload of fake wines
Good thing they stocked up on some old Ponsot Clos St. Denis! [cheers.gif]
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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8726 Post by Don Cornwell » June 19th, 2020, 3:34 pm

brigcampbell wrote:
June 19th, 2020, 3:16 pm
Hey Don,

Check out this guy's cellar. https://www.cellartracker.com/user.asp? ... ide=486936

The person is active, they were just in CT two days ago.

here's a list of wines they have purchased from the store "Rudy Kurniawan"
https://www.cellartracker.com/list.asp? ... +Kurniawan

here's a fun report, by producer by vintage from the store Rudy Kurniawan

https://www.cellartracker.com/list.asp? ... t2=Vintage


it's like the motherload of fake wines
This seems like somebody's idea of a joke, but may be worth a notification to Eric Levine.
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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8727 Post by Steve Gautier » June 19th, 2020, 5:07 pm

Looks like they made their cellar private.
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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8728 Post by brigcampbell » June 19th, 2020, 5:49 pm

Steve Gautier wrote:
June 19th, 2020, 5:07 pm
Looks like they made their cellar private.
I knew that was going to happen if it was real so I downloaded it to pdf.

It's actually a tragic story. Eric pinged me.

That is a legit cellar and that person was a victim of Rudy. There are more than 1,200 bottles.

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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8729 Post by Steve Gautier » June 19th, 2020, 6:27 pm

brigcampbell wrote:
June 19th, 2020, 5:49 pm
Steve Gautier wrote:
June 19th, 2020, 5:07 pm
Looks like they made their cellar private.
I knew that was going to happen if it was real so I downloaded it to pdf.

It's actually a tragic story. Eric pinged me.

That is a legit cellar and that person was a victim of Rudy. There are more than 1,200 bottles.
Oh my
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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8730 Post by AD Northup » June 19th, 2020, 7:23 pm

brigcampbell wrote:
June 19th, 2020, 5:49 pm
Steve Gautier wrote:
June 19th, 2020, 5:07 pm
Looks like they made their cellar private.
I knew that was going to happen if it was real so I downloaded it to pdf.

It's actually a tragic story. Eric pinged me.

That is a legit cellar and that person was a victim of Rudy. There are more than 1,200 bottles.
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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8731 Post by Tomás Costa » June 20th, 2020, 2:13 am

brigcampbell wrote:
June 19th, 2020, 5:49 pm
Steve Gautier wrote:
June 19th, 2020, 5:07 pm
Looks like they made their cellar private.
I knew that was going to happen if it was real so I downloaded it to pdf.

It's actually a tragic story. Eric pinged me.

That is a legit cellar and that person was a victim of Rudy. There are more than 1,200 bottles.
Another Bill Koch?
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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8732 Post by brigcampbell » June 20th, 2020, 9:45 am

Tomás Costa wrote:
June 20th, 2020, 2:13 am
brigcampbell wrote:
June 19th, 2020, 5:49 pm
Steve Gautier wrote:
June 19th, 2020, 5:07 pm
Looks like they made their cellar private.
I knew that was going to happen if it was real so I downloaded it to pdf.

It's actually a tragic story. Eric pinged me.

That is a legit cellar and that person was a victim of Rudy. There are more than 1,200 bottles.
Another Bill Koch?
Bill Koch didn't own that much fake wine.

It's been requested by the parties involved that I delete the cellar list. They were involved with the FBI so people are aware of the bottles.

I am honoring their request.

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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8733 Post by A G Aguirre » June 20th, 2020, 9:52 am

brigcampbell wrote:
June 19th, 2020, 5:49 pm
Steve Gautier wrote:
June 19th, 2020, 5:07 pm
Looks like they made their cellar private.
I knew that was going to happen if it was real so I downloaded it to pdf.

It's actually a tragic story. Eric pinged me.

That is a legit cellar and that person was a victim of Rudy. There are more than 1,200 bottles.
I hope this wasn’t how they found out at least... I do find it strange, by the way, that cellar inventory isn’t private by default on CellarTracker. That’s rather personal information that can be tied back to an individual with associated $$$ values.
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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8734 Post by Don Cornwell » June 21st, 2020, 5:40 pm

WARNING – ROYAL WINE MERCHANTS HAS RESUMED SELLING OLD AND RARE WINES, INCLUDING SOME APPARENTLY FROM HARDY RODENSTOCK, IN VIOLATION OF A FEDERAL INJUNCTION

Royal Wine Merchants, a New York City wine merchant, and its owner Jeffrey Sokolin, were sued in October of 2011 by Bill Koch for conspiring with Hardy Rodenstock between 1993 and 2009 to import and distribute in US commerce at least 2,067 bottles of counterfeit wine. As a result of that lawsuit, on April 3, 2014 Royal Wine Merchants and Jeff Sokolin were permanently enjoined by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida from selling any bottles of wine from vintages older than 1976 or any wines with a price (per 750ml) greater than $2,500.

For at least the last three months, and perhaps longer, Royal Wine Merchants and Jeffrey Sokolin have been engaged in willfully violating the Federal injunction on a massive scale, selling very old and rare wines (believed in at least some cases to originate from Hardy Rodenstock) at high prices – up to $35,000 for an alleged magnum of 1865 Lafite Rothschild or an alleged 6 liter bottle of 1900 Chateau Leoville Poyferre. As of Monday June 8, 2020, Royal Wine Merchants was selling 146 different wines from vintages ranging from 1865 to 1975 and 80 wines with prices in excess of $2,500 per bottle -- in direct violation of the Federal court’s injunction. Moreover, it appears that Royal Wine Merchants resumed selling some of the same alleged counterfeit wines from Hardy Rodenstock which resulted in the injunction being issued in 2014. (Hardy Rodenstock died in Germany on May 19, 2018.)

The bottles in question have been offered for sale by Royal since at least March of 2020 according to the historical price records on Wine Searcher, but precisely when these wines were first offered remains unclear. (Wine Searcher’s records make clear that the same bottles were not offered by Royal Wine Merchants as of 1, 2, 3 or 4 years ago.) On Tuesday June 9, Wine Searcher pulled Royal’s website off their on-line price database after being shown evidence of the injunction violation. The following day Royal pulled the 146 pre-1975 wines from its website. However, Royal has continued selling bottles priced at more than $2,500 per 750 ml on their website in violation of the injunction. At the present there are 15 wines offered by Royal which are priced at more than $2,500 per 750 ml in violation of the injunction, including 1978 Leroy Musigny ($5,500), 1978 Leroy Grands Échézeaux ($3,000), 1982 Chateau Lafite Rothschild 3-Liter ($12,000), 1982 Chateau Lafleur ($4,500) and 1985 Roumier Musigny ($9,500).

As reported in this thread many years ago, in October of 2011 Bill Koch filed a lawsuit against Royal Wine Merchants and its owner Jeffrey Sokolin. The lawsuit was filed in Federal District Court in in the Southern District of Florida, where Bill Koch resides. Koch asserted claims for fraud, conspiracy (with Hardy Rodenstock) to defraud, aiding and abetting fraud (by Hardy Rodenstock), negligent misrepresentation, a violation of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, and a series of claims under the Federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (commonly known as “RICO”). These claims were based on 35 counterfeit bottles of wine that Bill Koch purchased for $606,000 in 2005 from Zachys Wine Auctions, Acker Wine Auctions and Tribeca Wine Merchants. Koch alleged that the wines in question were imported and sold by Royal and its principals as part of an agreement and conspiracy with Hardy Rodenstock to import and distribute counterfeit wines in the United States. While Mr. Koch did not buy any of the bottles directly from Royal, his claim was that Royal was legally responsible for the counterfeits by virtue of having knowingly placed Rodenstock's counterfeit wines into the stream of US commerce containing fraudulent labels purportedly identifying the wine within. Koch alleged that all of the counterfeit wines he purchased were counterfeit Rodenstock wines which had been purchased and imported by Royal and then resold to either retail customers, such as Eric Greenberg, or to other retailers. As readers may recall from previous articles about the Koch v. Greenberg litigation, Eric Greenberg also had accused Royal in 2003 of selling him thousands of counterfeit bottles allegedly originating from Rodenstock. Greenberg subsequently settled with Royal Wine Merchants, returning some of allegedly counterfeit bottles but retaining many others. Some of the bottles retained by Greenberg were subsequently sold to Bill Koch via auction and were the subject of findings of intentional fraud by Eric Greenberg in the Koch v. Greenberg lawsuit.

Royal Wine Merchants filed multiple motions in an attempt to dismiss the Koch v. Royal Wine Merchants litigation, including a motion challenging Koch’s right to sue Royal since Koch had not purchased the wines directly from Royal. The court ruled that Koch’s theory of the case was a legally valid one, explaining as follows:
Plaintiff [Koch] argues that Royal, as Rodenstock's co-conspirator, is responsible for the false statements embodied on the labels of the wines and that Plaintiff relied upon those false statements when purchasing them. In addressing intentional misrepresentations, the Restatement (Second) of Torts states that “[o]ne who embodies a fraudulent misrepresentation in an article of commerce ... is subject to liability for pecuniary loss caused to another who deals with him or with a third person regarding the article ... in justifiable reliance upon the truth of the representation.” RESTATEMENT (SECOND) OF TORTS § 532 (1977); see also Sempione v. Provident Bank of Md., 75 F.3d 951, 963 (4th Cir.1996). The Restatement goes on to cite as a specific example “when merchandise is placed on the market in containers with misleading labels or in a form that misrepresents its basic character.” Id. § 532 comment c. This approach is more straightforward because Royal's intent that others should rely on its misrepresentations is presumed under this rule and because there is no question Plaintiff received and reasonably relied on the misrepresentations embodied in the labels. In addition, regardless of whether an auction house might have disclaimed any endorsement of the authenticity of the wines or its repetition of the content of the labels in its catalogues, an auction house disclaimer of its own representations of authenticity would not shield Royal's false statements embodied in the labels.
Royal and Sokolin later filed a motion for summary judgment, which the court denied. As previously discussed in this thread, in response to the motion for summary judgment Koch presented evidence to the court that between 1998 and 2009 Royal imported at least 2,067 bottles of counterfeit wine from Hardy Rodenstock, most of which were in magnums or larger bottles. viewtopic.php?p=1419508#p1419508 Koch also presented evidence that all of the bottles which were the subject of Koch’s complaint had been originally purchased from Royal Wine Merchants. Koch further presented evidence to the court that despite receiving three subpoenas from Koch beginning in 2007, Royal willfully destroyed all of its business records in 2010, including four file cabinets and 10-20 boxes of records, and all of its transactional files with Rodenstock. Then in response to discovery requests from Koch, Royal lied and stated that all of its records were destroyed in Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

In April of 2014, shortly before the trial was to start, the parties agreed to the entry of a permanent injunction against Royal Wine Merchants and Jeff Sokolin. See viewtopic.php?p=1430185#p1430185 The permanent injunction entered on April 3, 2014 provides in pertinent part that:
Neither Royal Wine Merchants, Ltd. nor Jeffrey Sokolin will ever, directly or indirectly, sell, cause to be sold, offer for sale, consign, or distribute “Certain Fine and Rare Wine,” meaning any bottle, magnum, imperial, or other format of wine that (1) is or purports to be of a 1975 or earlier vintage, or (2) is priced for sale (a) above $2,500 for any bottle, (b) above $5,000 for any magnum, (c) above $10,000 for any double-magnum, or (d) above a proportionate price limit for any format larger than double-magnum (the “Stipulated Injunction”).
This injunction remains in effect today. The injunction unequivocally prohibits Royal Wine Merchants from selling any wine which purports to be from a vintage prior to 1976 and also prohibits Royal from selling any bottle of wine with a price above $2,500 per 750 ml.

As noted above, notwithstanding the permanent injunction, sometime between three and eleven months ago, Royal Wine Merchants resumed selling very old and rare wine, apparently including some of the same bottles that Bill Koch and Eric Greenberg claimed were Rodenstock-produced counterfeits. This includes, for example, a magnum of 1865 Lafite Rothschild, one of the bottles that was purchased by Eric Greenberg and then returned as a claimed Rodenstock counterfeit. See the attached copy of the first two pages of the Royal inventory as of June 8, 2020 sorted by ‘most expensive first.’ (Click on the images below to enlarge them).

Royal Wine Merchants - most expensive bottles.png
Royal Most Expensive Pg 2.png
The wines offered also included 1900 Chateau Mouton Rothschild, another bottle as to which Koch presented evidence had been imported by Royal from Hardy Rodenstock. See the photos below. The wines offered by Royal include, by my count, 12 other allegedly counterfeit/suspected counterfeit wines which Eric Greenberg purchased from Royal in the same vintages and in the same size formats, and another 9 wines purchased by Greenberg in the same vintages but in differently sized formats.

As of Monday June 8, 2020, the Royal Wine Merchants website listed for sale a total of 146 different wines from vintages ranging from 1865 to 1975 and 80 wines with prices in excess of $2,500. Here’s a list of some of the more notable older wines that were offered for sale by Royal Wine Merchants in violation of the Federal injunction:

Lafite Rothschild 1865 (mag), 1914, 1925, 1947, 1952
Mouton Rothschild 1874, 1893, 1900, 1934, 1949 (mag)
Cheval Blanc 1928, 1945, 1947, 1949 (mag), 1961 (750 and mag), 1966
Latour 1926, 1928 (mag), 1952, 1955 (750 and mag), 1959 (mag), 1960, 1961
Petrus 1947, 1950, 1961, 1970
Haut Brion 1937, 1955 (mag), 1959 (750 and mag), 1961, 1967
La Mission Haut Brion 1970 (5 liter)
Lafleur 1947, 1950
Latour a Pomerol 1961
L’Evangile 1959 (mag), 1975
Trotanoy 1947 (mag), 1961
Vieux Chateau Certan 1945 (mag), 1964
Le Gay 1947 (mag), 1950 (mag)
1900 Chateau Leoville Poyferre 6 Liter
1923 DRC Romanée Conti (Vandermuelen bottling)
1945 and 1947 Vogue Musigny VV (Drouhin bottling)
1947 Liger-Belair La Romanée
1949 Vogue Musigny VV
1961 Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle
1978 Leroy Musigny
1978 Leroy Grands Échézeaux
1978 Guigal Cote Rotie La Mouline
1982 Chateau Lafleur
1982 Chateau Lafite Rothschild 3 Liter
1985 Roumier Musigny
1989 Ramonet Montrachet

While the Royal website included photos of only a few of the bottles being offered for sale, some were quickly recognizable as fakes, such as the 1900 Chateau Mouton Rothschild (a wine that Royal had imported from Hardy Rodenstock) shown below.

ImageImageImage
Left – 1900 Mouton from Royal Wine Merchants website | Middle: Label detail of alleged 1900 Mouton from Royal | Right – Label detail from original 1901 Mouton label from the chateau (Sotheby’s Jan 2015)

Putting aside the long more modern-era capsule on the Royal bottle, the numerals on the date on the 1900 Mouton from Royal are completely different from the font set used by Mouton at that time. The label on the right is from the Sotheby’s auction of wines direct from Mouton Rothschild held in January of 2015 and is an original label applied by the chateau.

So, once again, it is Buyer beware!

(Note: Jeffrey Sokolin, the owner of Royal Wine Merchants, is not affiliated with Sokolin.com, a wine merchant located in Bridgehampton, New York.)
Last edited by Don Cornwell on June 22nd, 2020, 2:16 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8735 Post by Cris Whetstone » June 21st, 2020, 6:34 pm

The mind boggles. What is going on at these places? Sunk cost appears to be no option.
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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8736 Post by Victor Hong » June 21st, 2020, 7:11 pm

Seeing several of these same bottles, lying about its Waterside apartment complex store in 1997, was appalling and amusing.
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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8737 Post by Don Cornwell » June 22nd, 2020, 1:20 am

Just in case you might have thought that the counterfeit wines being offered by Royal Wine Merchants might be limited to the mid to late 19th century and early 20th century wines for which Hardy Rodenstock became famous, that’s clearly not true here. Here is a blatantly counterfeit 1982 Chateau Lafleur offered today on Royal’s website – versus authentic bottles from other sources. Chateau Lafleur was one of Hardy Rodenstock’s favorite wines to counterfeit. (The same was true of Rudy Kurniawan).

ImageImageImageImage
Left to Right – 1982 Lafleur from Royal Wine Merchants | bottle from Sotheby’s Auction 3/18/2020 | bottle from Wally’s, a Los Angeles retail store | bottle from K&L Wines, San Francisco

The bottles from Royal Wine Merchants are clearly counterfeit because:
  • -The font on the date is incorrect

    -The font on Ch. Lafleur is clearly incorrect. Note particularly the loop on the “C” and the capital “L”

    -The font on the word “Pomerol” is clearly incorrect. Note particularly the “P” and the “r”

    -The font and spacing on “Mise en Bouteilles au Chateau” is different and spaced differently

    -Proprietaires is not bold, but should be

    -The font on “Appellation Pomerol Contolée” is too small and not bold

    -The printer marks on lower left and right of the label are missing

    -The capsule is slightly too long for the vintage and appears not to be the correct shade of red
The 1982 Chateau Lafleur (rated 100 by Robert Parker) is selling for $4,500 on Royal’s website. Would you have been fooled? Assuming you were interested in buying some, would you have done the research to figure this out before buying? The tools are there and can be readily found.
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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8738 Post by Mich@el Ch@ng » June 22nd, 2020, 4:13 am

I thought the labels were typically color copied; how do those font discrepancies come up?

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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8739 Post by Don Cornwell » June 22nd, 2020, 4:53 am

Mich@el Ch@ng wrote:
June 22nd, 2020, 4:13 am
I thought the labels were typically color copied; how do those font discrepancies come up?
The counterfeiters usually use a combination of both techniques. They photocopy and scan to create templates and print other parts. Both Rudy Kurniawan and Hardy Rodenstock had their labels printed. Most counterfeiters do.
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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8740 Post by Mich@el Ch@ng » June 22nd, 2020, 5:14 am

Don Cornwell wrote:
June 22nd, 2020, 4:53 am
Mich@el Ch@ng wrote:
June 22nd, 2020, 4:13 am
I thought the labels were typically color copied; how do those font discrepancies come up?
The counterfeiters usually use a combination of both techniques. They photocopy and scan to create templates and print other parts. Both Rudy Kurniawan and Hardy Rodenstock had their labels printed. Most counterfeiters do.
Why would the fonts be off then? Some parts are drawn by hand?

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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8741 Post by Don Cornwell » June 22nd, 2020, 6:28 am

Mich@el Ch@ng wrote:
June 22nd, 2020, 5:14 am
Don Cornwell wrote:
June 22nd, 2020, 4:53 am
Mich@el Ch@ng wrote:
June 22nd, 2020, 4:13 am
I thought the labels were typically color copied; how do those font discrepancies come up?
The counterfeiters usually use a combination of both techniques. They photocopy and scan to create templates and print other parts. Both Rudy Kurniawan and Hardy Rodenstock had their labels printed. Most counterfeiters do.
Why would the fonts be off then? Some parts are drawn by hand?
No, the printer tries to use the closest font they can find. Sometimes some letters match, while others in the fontset clearly don't. You'll see this again in some additional pictures I will post from the Royal offering.
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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8742 Post by Don Cornwell » June 22nd, 2020, 6:50 am

How about a grossly counterfeit 1985 Roumier Musigny from Royal Wine Merchants for $9,500? This is also currently on the Royal Wine Merchants website. But this one is really comical.


Image
Enlarged label of the 1985 Roumier Musigny on Royal Wine Merchants' website

Image
Label from 1985 Roumier Musigny from Hart-Davis-Hart auction September 2007


Image
1985 Roumier Musigny Magnum and 750 ml from Sotheby's Don Stott Auction in April 2015

Every font on the Royal Wine Merchants bottle is incorrect and so is most of the spacing. The “Y” was copied from Roumier's Chambolle-Musigny. The spacing on "Musigny" is much too condensed. The printer mark "Filiber A Nuits" is missing from the Royal bottle. On the lower far right of the Royal label, it appears that there is a large space between "m" and the "a" in "domaine."

But what is hysterically funny is that, if you look closely, you will see that instead of the punched out dots in the paper that Roumier used to do the numbering on the 750s in this era, the counterfeiter here used gray ink to simulate the punched out dots – on a bottle that Royal is trying to sell for $9,500.
Last edited by Don Cornwell on June 22nd, 2020, 7:49 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8743 Post by Mich@el Ch@ng » June 22nd, 2020, 6:51 am

Don Cornwell wrote:
June 22nd, 2020, 6:28 am
Mich@el Ch@ng wrote:
June 22nd, 2020, 5:14 am
Don Cornwell wrote:
June 22nd, 2020, 4:53 am

The counterfeiters usually use a combination of both techniques. They photocopy and scan to create templates and print other parts. Both Rudy Kurniawan and Hardy Rodenstock had their labels printed. Most counterfeiters do.
Why would the fonts be off then? Some parts are drawn by hand?
No, the printer tries to use the closest font they can find. Sometimes some letters match, while others in the fontset clearly don't. You'll see this again in some additional pictures I will post from the Royal offering.
Interesting; you’d think in this day and age you could easily apply some sort of AI algorithm to it; there’s certainly enough money at stake.

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#8744 Post by Don Cornwell » June 22nd, 2020, 8:16 am

One of the two most expensive bottles offered by Royal Wine Merchants is an alleged 6-liter (or Imperial) of 1900 Léoville Poyferré, which was listed for sale by Royal for $35,000. The immediately obvious problem here is that Léoville Poyferré likely never produced six liter bottles in 1900. But in this case, the story gets even more interesting. The bottle that was offered by Royal has a tag at the bottom which claims the bottle was rebouchaged at the Chateau on August 26, 1997. This, of course, helps to explain how the bottle has a pristine label and a long modern capsule.

When I began trying to research whether any 1900 Léoville Poyferré was ever produced in six liter bottles, I was surprised to see that another bottle had been offered by Sotheby’s in an auction in New York in May of 2019. When I examined the photo of the six liter bottle from Sotheby's, I noticed that it had an identical tag claiming that it too had been rebouchaged on the same date -- August 26, 1997. That seemed almost impossible. Then I finally noticed that the bottle offered by Royal had very dark green handblown glass while the bottle from Sotheby’s was clear handblown glass. So what is the possibility that the Chateau produced two six liter bottles in differently colored glass in the same vintage, sold them to the same person, and that they were brought back to the chateau to be rebouchaged on the same day? The short answer seemed to be that it was absolutely impossible.

ImageImage
Left: Purported 1900 Léoville Poyferré 6-liter from Royal with dark green glass | Right: Purported 1900 Léoville Poyferré 6-liter from Sotheby’s with clear glass

(Note: The bottle offered by Sotheby’s had a crack in the neck of the bottle, which was fully disclosed in the Sotheby’s catalog. The bottle did not sell at auction.)

In an abundance of caution, I decided to ask Chateau Léoville Poyferré. They responded this morning stating that: “although it is very difficult for us to say with absolute certainty, it seems very unlikely that the 6 [Liter] Imperials of Chateau Léoville Poyferré 1900 are authentic. Not only for the reasons that you have stated but also that we do not have such record of these bottles being reconditioned at the property at that time.”

Is everyone beginning to see a familiar pattern here?
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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8745 Post by Victor Hong » June 22nd, 2020, 8:26 am

Perhaps, Royal does its own re-corking?
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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8746 Post by Larry Stein » June 22nd, 2020, 8:29 am

I assume since there's a federal injunction against Royal, this has been reported to the appropriate authorities?

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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8747 Post by Don Cornwell » June 22nd, 2020, 8:34 am

Larry Stein wrote:
June 22nd, 2020, 8:29 am
I assume since there's a federal injunction against Royal, this has been reported to the appropriate authorities?
Larry:

I reported everything I know to Bill Koch's former counsel in the litigation. I do not know what, if anything, Mr. Koch is doing in response.
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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8748 Post by Victor Hong » June 22nd, 2020, 8:35 am

Larry Stein wrote:
June 22nd, 2020, 8:29 am
I assume since there's a federal injunction against Royal, this has been reported to the appropriate authorities?
SDNY, which is just a short car ride downtown, seems ideal. Oh, wait,.....
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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8749 Post by John Morris » June 22nd, 2020, 12:34 pm

Victor Hong wrote:
June 22nd, 2020, 8:35 am
Larry Stein wrote:
June 22nd, 2020, 8:29 am
I assume since there's a federal injunction against Royal, this has been reported to the appropriate authorities?
SDNY, which is just a short car ride downtown, seems ideal. Oh, wait,.....
I think it might be hard to get their attention this week.
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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8750 Post by Mark Golodetz » June 22nd, 2020, 2:00 pm

John Morris wrote:
June 22nd, 2020, 12:34 pm
Victor Hong wrote:
June 22nd, 2020, 8:35 am
Larry Stein wrote:
June 22nd, 2020, 8:29 am
I assume since there's a federal injunction against Royal, this has been reported to the appropriate authorities?
SDNY, which is just a short car ride downtown, seems ideal. Oh, wait,.....
I think it might be hard to get their attention this week.
This was a civil action. I have absolutely no doubt Koch will go after them irrespective of what week it is. Not sure what he can do about it though; it obviously depends on the wording of the agreement, but I have a feeling it will have serious penalties. I hope so.
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