RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

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

#8901 Post by scott c » November 18th, 2020, 1:10 pm

I was surprised to see that this hadn't been posted yet:

https://nypost.com/article/wine-fraud-r ... ll-future/

This, from his lawyer, is suitably terrifying:
“I’ve had inquiries about [him working] as a tasting consultant,” said Mooney. Kurniawan could even go right on copycatting sought-after wine, so long as he told purchasers that he made it. His model, Mooney pointed out, could be prolific American art forger Ken Perenyi, who went from illegally peddling his copies as the real deal to selling “signed” copies of paintings by first-tier artists after the FBI began to surveil him.

“Collectors would love to know what a great old wine tastes like,” said Mooney. “Rudy already knows. He could make it to order.”
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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8902 Post by John Glas » November 18th, 2020, 1:44 pm

Funny that Rudy came up on add a friend on Facebook yesterday. I had to pass.

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#8903 Post by Al Osterheld » November 18th, 2020, 1:49 pm

I'm told it's a counterfeit Rudy.

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

#8904 Post by John Danza » November 18th, 2020, 6:22 pm

This is an interesting quote from the article:
“Collectors would love to know what a great old wine tastes like,” said Mooney. “Rudy already knows. He could make it to order.”
Does Rudy really have a clue what the "great old wines" taste like? I doubt that anyone who ever drank Rudy's wines knows, because they didn't drink "great old wines". They drank Rudy's concoctions.
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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8905 Post by Mel Hill » November 18th, 2020, 7:56 pm

IIRC, Rudy spent millions buying up trophy wines (raising the prices across the board) sharing them
to gain access to the “heavy lumber” crowd THEN started he started counterfeiting said trophy wines and selling them having already establishing himself as a great wine taster etc.... So, he does know what “great old wine” tastes like and used that knowledge to sell his fake wines...

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

#8906 Post by jordan jacobs » November 18th, 2020, 8:08 pm

Mel Hill wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 7:56 pm
IIRC, Rudy spent millions buying up trophy wines (raising the prices across the board) sharing them
to gain access to the “heavy lumber” crowd THEN started he started counterfeiting said trophy wines and selling them having already establishing himself as a great wine taster etc.... So, he does know what “great old wine” tastes like and used that knowledge to sell his fake wines...
This!

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#8907 Post by Sean S y d n e y » November 18th, 2020, 9:32 pm

I remain unconvinced that more than even a small handful of unicorn-type bottles that Rudy brought to tastings were authentic.
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#8908 Post by Doug Schulman » November 19th, 2020, 4:15 am

He was buying authentic bottles of super rare wines at auctions and restaurants regularly. No one else knew which were authentic and not, but Rudy did, and he certainly tasted many authentic, iconic wines.

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#8909 Post by Don Cornwell » November 19th, 2020, 4:58 am

COUNTERFEIT 1959 LA TÂCHE IN TODAY's ACKER NEW YORK [corrected] "HOLY GRAIL" SALE

I received a request from a colleague to review the first 288 lots of the Acker Hong Kong "Holy Grail" sale which began in New York at 8 pm local time on November 19. When I did that I found one outrageous counterfeit -- Lot 210 -- Two bottles of purported 1959 DRC La Tâche. Almost everything about the labels on the bottle shown in the catalog is clearly wrong.

Acker Lot 210 -- Clearly counterfeit 1959 La Tache.png
Acker Merrall Lot 210

The neck label is missing. The bottle number font is completely incorrect for a 1959 DRC wines. Compare the font shown in the Acker photo of Lot 210 (incorrect for 1959) with Acker Lot No. 199 (correct font). See also the attached exemplars of the authentic versions of the same wine from HDH Auction in May of 2008, Steen Ohman's bottle of 1959 La Tâche, and the same wine from Don Stott’s auction at Acker Merrall NY in October of 2011. The print on Récoltées is totally wrong -- and laughable. That big wing from a T or an F that appears over the "R" on Récoltées in Acker Lot 210 is not supposed to be there. (The big chemical erasure smudge should have told the person authenticating this something). The symbol "№" is missing fom the label. Another Rudy tell here is that the letters “ées” in Récoltées are not aligned correctly with the rest of the word. These three letters are aligned below the rest of the word, including the L. I’ve seen this many times before. There is way too much space between the Green AOC line and # of bottles line. There is way too little space between Récoltées and L’Associe-Gérant. The signature of H. de Villaine aligns too high versus ANNÉE 1959 based on the attached exemplars from authentic bottles.

1959 La Tache HDH 5-16-2008.jpg
1959 La Tâche from Hart-Davis-Hart Auction May 2008

1959 DRC La Tache (Steen Ohman).jpg
1959 La Tâche photo from Steen Öhman (Wine Hog)

1959 La Tache Don Stott Acker 10-29-2011.jpg
1959 La Tâche photo from Don Stott's October 2011 auction sale at Acker Merrall

There are also lots which have physical discrepancies versus the original releases. These wines could not be authentic if they purport to be original releases, but could possibly be authentic if there was documented provenance to show the source and date of purchase as they might be wines from very late releases.

Lot 96 - 1959 Vogüé Musigny: The bottle shown in the Acker catalog contains a vineyard-branded Vogue capsule. There were no such capsules on the 1959 Vogüé Musigny when the wine was released. See the Acker catalog photo of Lots 83 and 84, which have plain red capsules. See also the photo of the 1959 Vogüé Musigny in the HDH auction photo next to the 1959 DRC La Tâche attached above. The vineyard branded capsules first began with the 1971 vintage. To be authentic, this lot would have had to be purchased between 1973 and 1978 directly from the Domaine. There is nothing in the catalog to indicate that.

Lot 98 1962 Vogüé Musigny: Like Lot 96, this bottle also has a branded capsule and thus requires provenance information to overcome the presumption that it bears the incorrect capsule.

Lot 200: 1971 DRC Grands Échézeaux: The 1971 DRC vintage did not have vineyard-labeled capsules. (These capsules were first used on the 1976 vintage that was released in 1978.) I have seen some 1971 DRC wines which were claimed to have have been purchased directly from Leroy with DRC vineyard-labeled capsules, but again this requires explanation/documented provenance that is not contained in the catalog.

Lot 215 1971 La Tâche Magnum This lot has a unique two-signature label bearing the the signatures of Lalou Bize-Leroy and Aubert de Villaine which was first used on the 1972 vintage, after they took over as DRC co-managers. This particular label has a very light/thin signature from Lalou, was utilized only on the 1972 and 1973 vintages. This same two-signature label has appeared on some 1971 large format bottles about which several of us has expressed doubts, but which have never been fully resolved one way or the other. This lot bears a Domaine Chandon import strip label. Domaine Chandon was not a DRC importer when the 1971 vintage was initially released, but did become a DRC importer the following year. So this one is in doubt.

Lot 246 1971 DRC Richebourg As noted in connection with Lot 215, there were no vineyard-labeled capsules on the 1971 vintage DRC wines. So once again, this requires further explanation/documented provenance.

UPDATE (11/23): Acker removed Lot 210 (1959 La Tache) from the sale but did not remove any of the other lots.
Last edited by Don Cornwell on November 23rd, 2020, 11:29 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8910 Post by Mark Golodetz » November 19th, 2020, 5:12 am

The timing is perfect. As soon as Rudy is released, Acker is auctioning off arguably fake wine. Coincidence? I am sure it is, but there is a wonderful irony in it.
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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8911 Post by John Danza » November 19th, 2020, 6:41 am

Doug Schulman wrote:
November 19th, 2020, 4:15 am
He was buying authentic bottles of super rare wines at auctions and restaurants regularly. No one else knew which were authentic and not, but Rudy did, and he certainly tasted many authentic, iconic wines.
How do you know that he wasn't buying fakes? It's not like he was the first guy to create fake bottles. And he was buying from the same auction houses that subsequently authenticated his fakes and sold them.
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#8912 Post by Sean S y d n e y » November 19th, 2020, 7:00 am

Doug Schulman wrote:
November 19th, 2020, 4:15 am
He was buying authentic bottles of super rare wines at auctions and restaurants regularly. No one else knew which were authentic and not, but Rudy did, and he certainly tasted many authentic, iconic wines.
From what Don and others have said, his auction buying has been greatly exaggerated, and it seems there was a lot of nonpayment when he did win lots.

I believe he bought a decent amount of wine when he arrived on the scene. I do not believe for a moment that almost any of the seemingly endless supply of unicorn bottles that had not been seen in the marketplace for years if not decades that he brought to the rich guy circle jerks were authentic.
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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8913 Post by HoosJustinG » November 19th, 2020, 7:33 am

Sean S y d n e y wrote:
November 19th, 2020, 7:00 am
Doug Schulman wrote:
November 19th, 2020, 4:15 am
He was buying authentic bottles of super rare wines at auctions and restaurants regularly. No one else knew which were authentic and not, but Rudy did, and he certainly tasted many authentic, iconic wines.
From what Don and others have said, his auction buying has been greatly exaggerated, and it seems there was a lot of nonpayment when he did win lots.

I believe he bought a decent amount of wine when he arrived on the scene. I do not believe for a moment that almost any of the seemingly endless supply of unicorn bottles that had not been seen in the marketplace for years if not decades that he brought to the rich guy circle jerks were authentic.
Zachy’s CEO recently said on X Chateau podcast that Rudy was a non payer to them. He said that Rudy later tried to consign wine to satisfy his debt, and they were uncomfortable with a substantial portion of the consignment and rejected it.
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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8914 Post by Arvid Rosengren » November 19th, 2020, 9:05 am

Don Cornwell wrote:
November 19th, 2020, 4:58 am
COUNTERFEIT 1959 LA TÂCHE IN TODAY's ACKER HONG KONG "HOLY GRAIL" SALE

I received a request from a colleague to review the first 288 lots of the Acker Hong Kong "Holy Grail" sale which began in Hong Kong at 8 pm local time on November 19 (i.e. about 20 minutes ago). When I did that I found one outrageous counterfeit -- Lot 210 -- Two bottles of purported 1959 DRC La Tâche. Almost everything about the labels on the bottle shown in the catalog is clearly wrong.
Thank you Don! Quick note: this sale is on eastern time, so there is still plenty of time to... not bid. Or maybe even get answers from Acker.
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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8915 Post by John Danza » November 19th, 2020, 10:59 am

Arvid Rosengren wrote:
November 19th, 2020, 9:05 am
Don Cornwell wrote:
November 19th, 2020, 4:58 am
COUNTERFEIT 1959 LA TÂCHE IN TODAY's ACKER HONG KONG "HOLY GRAIL" SALE

I received a request from a colleague to review the first 288 lots of the Acker Hong Kong "Holy Grail" sale which began in Hong Kong at 8 pm local time on November 19 (i.e. about 20 minutes ago). When I did that I found one outrageous counterfeit -- Lot 210 -- Two bottles of purported 1959 DRC La Tâche. Almost everything about the labels on the bottle shown in the catalog is clearly wrong.
Thank you Don! Quick note: this sale is on eastern time, so there is still plenty of time to... not bid. Or maybe even get answers from Acker.
The answer from Acker / John Kapon will be "there's no extradition from Hong Kong". [rofl.gif]
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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8916 Post by Dennis Borczon » November 19th, 2020, 11:05 am

Let the Chinese buyers have em. They deserve a nice collection...

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

#8917 Post by Jim Clary » November 19th, 2020, 12:57 pm

J a y H a c k wrote:
November 12th, 2020, 7:07 pm
Facebook just told me that I might know a guy named Rudy Kurniawan and suggested I friend him. Some of you are already his Facebook friends. I am not, but some of the comments on this page or wall or whatever you call it are funny. "If you can't make it, fake it."
I got the same. Weird.
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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8918 Post by Freek S u i j v e r » November 19th, 2020, 1:02 pm

Great work as usual Don! But in this specific case, probably a quick look at the capsule would already have been enough to be "at least worried"....

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

#8919 Post by Wes Barton » November 19th, 2020, 8:14 pm

Mel Hill wrote:
November 18th, 2020, 7:56 pm
IIRC, Rudy spent millions buying up trophy wines (raising the prices across the board) sharing them
to gain access to the “heavy lumber” crowd THEN started he started counterfeiting said trophy wines and selling them having already establishing himself as a great wine taster etc.... So, he does know what “great old wine” tastes like and used that knowledge to sell his fake wines...
Yep. But, what he created were plausible fakes, taking tired mature lesser wines and livening them up with the right younger wines. That's not the same as what his lawyer suggested he could do: creating wines that mimic the real thing, especially an optimal bottle. Sounds like marketing BS.
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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8920 Post by Jürgen Steinke » November 20th, 2020, 12:56 am

The fraudsters can count on so many weaknesses of their clients.

1. Taste is an individual thing. Look at the tasting notes of critics about the same wine. They are very different in most cases.
2. Few people tasted 47 Lafleur, 45 DRC and so forth several times to have a clear picture and memory how the real thing tasted.
3. Rarity and price are sexy things so people are fascinated by the image of these old bottles that means objectivity is gone.

You can add several more factors. Somebody must make absurd mistakes like Ponsot wines that never existed as Kurniawan to have serious trouble. It is a shame that Kurniawan was the first and only person who ever got into jail due to faking wine in the US. All the gangsters in the wine business have a pretty easy life and that is something hard to believe and understand.

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#8921 Post by Nevin Miller » November 20th, 2020, 11:59 am

Jim Clary wrote:
November 19th, 2020, 12:57 pm
J a y H a c k wrote:
November 12th, 2020, 7:07 pm
Facebook just told me that I might know a guy named Rudy Kurniawan and suggested I friend him. Some of you are already his Facebook friends. I am not, but some of the comments on this page or wall or whatever you call it are funny. "If you can't make it, fake it."
I got the same. Weird.
Same here. Bizarre. Just yesterday.

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

#8922 Post by Chris T. » November 20th, 2020, 12:58 pm

Nevin Miller wrote:
November 20th, 2020, 11:59 am
Jim Clary wrote:
November 19th, 2020, 12:57 pm
J a y H a c k wrote:
November 12th, 2020, 7:07 pm
Facebook just told me that I might know a guy named Rudy Kurniawan and suggested I friend him. Some of you are already his Facebook friends. I am not, but some of the comments on this page or wall or whatever you call it are funny. "If you can't make it, fake it."
I got the same. Weird.
Same here. Bizarre. Just yesterday.
It's a parody account haha.

Also bizarre reading the supporters on his page that don't understand it's a parody account. How could anyone support this guy???
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#8923 Post by Don Cornwell » November 22nd, 2020, 2:12 am

A NEAR MISS … 607 LOTS REMOVED FROM BONHAMS HONG KONG AUCTION

Bonhams Auction in Hong Kong conducted a two-day spirits and wine auction in Hong Kong on November 20-21. The first part of the auction (lots 1-474) consisting of whisky and spirits, was held on Friday November 20. The wine portion of the auction (lots 475-1276), was held yesterday, Saturday, November 21, 2020. The wine auction included a single cellar consignment (Lots 475-1081), titled as the A1 Cellar, which belonged to Singapore wine collector William Giauw. Due to overwhelming problems with the authenticity of the lots in the A1 Cellar, in response to our request, the entire collection of 607 lots was pulled by Bonhams with the consent of the consignor shortly before the sale was to commence. My kudos to Bonhams’ management and the consignor for belatedly doing the right thing here and avoiding the most counterfeit-filled auction sale since the Cellar I and Cellar II auctions in 2006

After one of the members of our review team alerted everyone that there seemed to be serious problems with a very large number of bottles in this consignment, we began giving considerable scrutiny to each lot for which there were either large photos in the catalog or photos available online in earnest. One of the team members had actually physically inspected this same consignment before and advised the owner that there were an overwhelming number of counterfeit wines included and that the wines could not be sold. Some of the worst offending wines (mostly from DRC and Liger-Belair) were eliminated, but most were consigned to Bonhams for auction.

I am aware that due to travel restrictions with the Covid-19 virus, Richard Harvey, the head of the Bonhams Wine Department in London, was unable to travel to Hong Kong to inspect the collection himself. Based on what we observed from the catalog and the online photos it would appear that no one from Bonhams with the slightest amount of knowledge about authentication inspected the wines prior to the catalog publication. I say that because this catalog and the available online photos contained 17 separate lots of what I have previously referred to in this thread as “Seeing Eye Dog” auction lots – wines supposedly from the same producer, same vineyard and same vintage which any human being with normal eye sight who knew nothing about wine could look at and tell you in in seconds that there was a problem because the bottles were different colors, different shapes, different heights or otherwise obviously didn’t match. Starting with auctions dating back to the fall of 2011, I’ve written about three such auction lots – but in one auction, and one collection, there were 17 such lots. That is simply impossible to rationally explain. I have included photos of some of the most ridiculous lots below.

ImageImage
Bonhams Lot 851 – purported 1959 Felix Clerget Beaune Greves (3 different bottle colors) | Bonhams Lot 813 – purported 1949 Jules Belin Musigny (3 different glass colors

ImageImage
Bonhams Lot 677 – purported 1949 Charles Noëllat Richebourg (3 different glass colors and different capsules) | Bonhams Lot 651 – purported 1950 Chateau Lafleur (4 completely different bottles)

Beyond the 17 patently obvious “Seeing Eye Dog” lots, there were massive numbers of other counterfeits. For example, there were 26 lots of purported Henri Jayer burgundies (lots 821-846) including 12 lots which pre-dated the start of Jayer’s domaine bottling - - including 1959, 1962, 1966 and 1971 Richebourg, all of which were clearly counterfeit. The Bonhams wine department in London pulled all of the Jayer lots but one early in the week leading up to the auction in response to our initial expressions of concern. (That promising response helps explain why you didn’t see an advance warning here.)

There were also multiple lots of highly suspect Maison Leroy grand crus from the 1960s and 1970s, obviously counterfeit 1945 to 1952 Vogüé Musigny (Mise Drouhin)(Lots 605-608), counterfeit 1990 Coche Corton Charlemagne (Lot 651) and an astounding 17 lots of counterfeit Charles Noëllat burgundies purportedly from 1949 to 1978 (Lots 664 -680) all bearing the same bogus label. (This is the domaine acquired by Lalou Bize-Leroy in 1988 which is the principal basis of Domaine Leroy today.) Two of the lots of the Charles Noëllat Richebourg (1949 and 1952) were among the 17 lots of “Seeing Eye Dog” counterfeits with obviously mismatched bottles. But all of the purported Charles Noëllat labels had a very blurry violet-tinted photograph that looked more like an etching.

Image
Bonhams Lot 679 – purported 1962 Charles Noëllat Richebourg Magnums

ImageImage
Correct 1966 Charles Noëllat Richebourg label (from European auction/retailer I Deal Wine) | Original labels from Charles Noëllat Richebourg 1959 to 1966

This consignment also contained multiple wines that never existed - for example, 1964 Georges Jayer Échézeaux (Lot 820), 1990 Maison Leroy Musigny (Lot 694) [Note: there was Domaine Leroy 1990 Musigny, but not Maison Leroy Musigny], and 1999 Frederic Mugnier Chambertin, Chambertin Clos de Beze and Chappelle Chambertin (Lot 722). As one of the team members said: “What’s next, Rousseau Musigny?”

There were multiple lots of purported old Clos de Lambrays (Cosson family bottles) from 1947, 1949, 1962, 1964, 1978, 1990 and 2002 (Lots 733-739). The two lots that had photos (from 1947 and 1949) had completely incorrect neck labels, incorrect brown bottles and crude (Rudy-like) wax capsules.

One of the more disturbing things that we found was that there were obviously counterfeit wines from the 1940s and 1950s from burgundy producers whose wines are NOT typically counterfeited, including 1949 and 1959 Prieur Musigny (Lots 753-755), 1947 and 1949 Pierre Ponnelle Musigny and Chambertin (685- 689), 1949 Jules Belin Musigny and Richebourg (Lots 812-814), 1949-1962 Felix Clerget Volnay, Beaune Greves and Corton (Lots 847-859) and 1959-1962 Michel Gaunoux Pommard Rugiens and Grand Epenots (Lots 901-903). In each case here, I was initially tipped off that there was a problem that we needed to do more research on because the bottle colors in the photos on some of these lots clearly didn’t match.

ImageImageImage
(Top left) Bonhams Lot 815 – purported 1949 Ponnelle Chambertin (note different colored bottle on right) – this is a copy of the mid-1950s label style | (Top Right) 1947 Ponnelle Chambertin (from Winebid 2019) | (Bottom) 1947 and 1949 Ponnelle Bonnes Mares

The counterfeits and highly suspect wines were not just limited to burgundy. There were also multiple lots of counterfeit old Bordeaux from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, including counterfeit (and non-matching) 1950 (shown above) and 1961 Chataeau Lafleur. From 1945 onward, Lafleur never had vintage neck tags.

ImageImage
Bonhams Lot 603 – purported 1961 Chateau Lafleur -- versus -- Real 1961 Chateau Lafleur (from Winebid)

One of the featured lots in the auction was six bottles of (counterfeit) 1947 Chateau L’Eglise Cllinet -- a wine that was never sold under that label. From the 1884 vintage to the 1954 vintage, the wine was labeled as Clos L’Eglise-Clinet. It was only labeled as Chateau L’Eglise Clinet starting with the 1955 vintage. https://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/bo ... ise-clinet/ See also the review of the 1947 from a recent Vinous article by Neal Martin from a L'Eglise Clinet vertical tasting (set forth below). The counterfeiter also tried to scratch out or obscure the 73CL appearing on the lower left side of the label. We believe this wine came from Rudy Kurniawan, because he had a template for it among the records that the FBI seized.

Image
Bonhams Lot 596 – purported 1947 Chateau L’Eglise Clinet

Image
The 1954 Clos L’Eglise Clinet – the last vintage with this labeling

Review from Neal Martin --
1947 L'Eglise-Clinet

The only bottle of the legendary 1947 l’Eglise-Clinet, at that time labeled Clos de l’Eglise-Clinet, to have passed my palate was bottled by a Pauillac-based merchant Jean Terrioux. It has an attractive nose of dried fig and leather well defined with touches of mint. There is certainly impressive freshness. The palate is initially opulent and lavish like many 1947s, although it only takes five minutes for what would have been a spectacular Pomerol to completely oxidize. I am sure there is plenty of bottle variation when it comes to this wine. Tasting note taken from the Pomerol book by Neal Martin. 92 - Neal Martin
We were petty overwhelmed trying to review and provide the backup to demonstrate why all of these wines were counterfeit or highly suspect. We flagged approximately one hundred lots of the 607 contained in the consignment. Given the width and breadth of the counterfeits that we found, we were also concerned because there were many lots in the catalog for which there were no photographs. I ended up contacting senior management from Bonhams that I have had some dealings with in the past. We presented all of our findings in a series of emails. We ultimately asked that they withdraw all of the lots in the consignment because there was an unprecedented number of counterfeit lots and a fear there could be many more. As of early Saturday morning (Hong Kong time) the Wine Department had pulled 84 lots and was still working. When the auction opened, they announced that, with the consent of the consignor, the entire A1 Collection had been withdrawn.

My thanks to Bonhams’ management and the Bonhams Wine Department for ultimately doing the right thing – but I just wish that the consignment had been properly vetted and rejected to begin with.
Last edited by Don Cornwell on November 22nd, 2020, 11:44 am, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8924 Post by Jan Janas » November 22nd, 2020, 2:31 am

This is incredible work, Don! However, it is laughable that auction houses and the series of professional authenticators let slip 100 lots of fake wines to be checked, photographed, cataloged, and sold. What a world, jeez.

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#8925 Post by Jason T » November 22nd, 2020, 5:08 am

Agreed Jan. Shameful that they don’t have better practices.
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#8926 Post by Victor Hong » November 22nd, 2020, 5:56 am

Those Richebourg bottles look like a $9.99 Manager’s Special at the local supermarket.
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#8927 Post by Mark Golodetz » November 22nd, 2020, 7:13 am

I can’t find it on the net, but I seem to recall it was the 1947 Eglise Clinet that was one of the wines Rodenstock served to Parker at one of his mass tastings.
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#8928 Post by D@ve D y r 0 f f » November 22nd, 2020, 7:32 am

Great work, Don! Is that Rudy's fingerprint on the fake L'Eglise Clinet? I assume that somewhere in Washington, enshrined in some little folder, is a study in black and white of his fingerprints for comparison...

Whatever happened to the lots discussed above in post 8909 from the Acker "Holy Grail" sale? Were they pulled, did they sell?

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#8929 Post by HenryB » November 22nd, 2020, 7:45 am

It's disgusting that it still takes interested third parties to solve these sort of problems. How auction houses dont have their names trashed is beyond me; that being said I never participate in wine auctions. Most of them are too rich for my blood and I'm too used to dealing in bond to take the risk. I'd be embarrassed as a wine professional to even be associated to a company that let such a bad fraud through, to be honest. Maybe I'm missing something?


Presumably the bottles just go back to the owner, who if cynical will wait a bit and try to split them out and auction them with someone else in future? Really they should be seized for destruction, but I doubt that's gonna happen eh
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#8930 Post by Jerry Hey » November 22nd, 2020, 7:47 am

Don't mess with Don!!

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#8931 Post by alan weinberg » November 22nd, 2020, 9:29 am

Jerry Hey wrote:
November 22nd, 2020, 7:47 am
Don't mess with Don!!
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#8932 Post by alan weinberg » November 22nd, 2020, 9:42 am

HenryB wrote:
November 22nd, 2020, 7:45 am
Presumably the bottles just go back to the owner, who if cynical will wait a bit and try to split them out and auction them with someone else in future?
it’s a future “Golden Cellar” Acker auction in Hong Kong.

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#8933 Post by Marcu$ Stanley » November 22nd, 2020, 9:59 am

Not questioning Don's great work on this at all, but is it always the case that mismatched bottles from the same producer/vintage of older wines always indicate counterfeits? I thought that before say the 1960s or 1970s (not sure when), it was sometimes the case that merchants bottled the wine from barrels provided by the producer, and different merchants could bottle somewhat differently than the original Domaine producer?

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#8934 Post by HoosJustinG » November 22nd, 2020, 10:04 am

HenryB wrote:
November 22nd, 2020, 7:45 am
It's disgusting that it still takes interested third parties to solve these sort of problems. How auction houses dont have their names trashed is beyond me; that being said I never participate in wine auctions. Most of them are too rich for my blood and I'm too used to dealing in bond to take the risk. I'd be embarrassed as a wine professional to even be associated to a company that let such a bad fraud through, to be honest. Maybe I'm missing something?


Presumably the bottles just go back to the owner, who if cynical will wait a bit and try to split them out and auction them with someone else in future? Really they should be seized for destruction, but I doubt that's gonna happen eh
It would be nice if auction houses instituted some type of policy of sending suspected counterfeit bottles to producers for approval or destruction. Even if THEY refuse to sell them, just returning them to the owner where they’re sure to find their way back to sale undermines trust in the entire secondary market for wine (which is, of course, not in their interest as an auction house). Legitimate collectors who are consigning authentic wine shouldn’t have issues with this policy.
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#8935 Post by Don Cornwell » November 22nd, 2020, 10:11 am

D@ve D y r 0 f f wrote:
November 22nd, 2020, 7:32 am
Great work, Don! Is that Rudy's fingerprint on the fake L'Eglise Clinet? I assume that somewhere in Washington, enshrined in some little folder, is a study in black and white of his fingerprints for comparison...

Whatever happened to the lots discussed above in post 8909 from the Acker "Holy Grail" sale? Were they pulled, did they sell?
Dave:

I wondered the same thing myself about the fingerprint. So far I do not know whether any of the listed lots in the Acker Holy Grail sale were pulled or not. I received an email from Acker's general counsel assuring me that they would look at the lots. I am unable to access the results to check as they allow only registered members to do that.
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#8936 Post by Ethan Abraham » November 22nd, 2020, 10:53 am

Marcu$ Stanley wrote:
November 22nd, 2020, 9:59 am
Not questioning Don's great work on this at all, but is it always the case that mismatched bottles from the same producer/vintage of older wines always indicate counterfeits? I thought that before say the 1960s or 1970s (not sure when), it was sometimes the case that merchants bottled the wine from barrels provided by the producer, and different merchants could bottle somewhat differently than the original Domaine producer?
I would imagine that if this were case you would still not expect to see so many different bottles "reunited" in one place.

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#8937 Post by Don Cornwell » November 22nd, 2020, 11:17 am

Marcu$ Stanley wrote:
November 22nd, 2020, 9:59 am
Not questioning Don's great work on this at all, but is it always the case that mismatched bottles from the same producer/vintage of older wines always indicate counterfeits? I thought that before say the 1960s or 1970s (not sure when), it was sometimes the case that merchants bottled the wine from barrels provided by the producer, and different merchants could bottle somewhat differently than the original Domaine producer?
Marcus:

You have actually asked about a couple of different concepts. Negociant bottling, which was typical prior to 1920, largely ended by the early 1970s. Both for negociants and domaines, they were buying bottles in substantial quantities and generally bottled the wines from a given vintage/vineyard combination in the same bottles - although there are some instances even into the modern era where the production may be large enough, and the producer purchased bottles from more than one glass supplier, so that bottles from two different glass suppliers might be used on the same wine. Depending on the producer in question, in some instances through the late 1930s bottles might be re-used (using carboy cleaners, etc). Thus, I have encountered a few bottles of the same wine in different glass from the same producer from pre-1940 vintages. It invariably raises questions and requires research and often contacting the producer. You are then left trying to determine if everything else matches -- labels, capsules, cork length, etc. But finding wines with three different bottle colors or substantially different bottle shapes and heights after World War II for the same wine indicates something is very wrong.

During World War II, due to glass shortages and shortages of the metals that were used to create glass coloration, some producers returned to re-using bottles and also purchased some of the familiar wartime blue glass. Thus, for example, it is possible to find bottles of some DRC wines in both wartime blue glass and green glass from the vintages from 1941 to 1943. See the example below.

1943 La Tache (Australia sent by Jeremy Holmes).jpg
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#8938 Post by David Glasser » November 22nd, 2020, 11:23 am

As disheartening as it is to see this still going on, it is a joy to watch Don at work. The pictures and then the descriptions remind me of the "Can you find the differences?" puzzles in Highlights for Children. This is Highlights for Wine Berserkers. Thank you Don for all the effort you put in to combat counterfeiting, and for the entertainment value.

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

#8939 Post by JBrochu » November 22nd, 2020, 11:35 am

David Glasser wrote:
November 22nd, 2020, 11:23 am
As disheartening as it is to see this still going on, it is a joy to watch Don at work. The pictures and then the descriptions remind me of the "Can you find the differences?" puzzles in Highlights for Children. This is Highlights for Wine Berserkers. Thank you Don for all the effort you put in to combat counterfeiting, and for the entertainment value.
Even after Don explains the problems, I still have difficulty spotting the issue in some cases. Which makes it super impressive that he can look at these and instantly spot all the warning signs and issues. The auction houses must hate him, he's like the Scooby-Doo of the wine world. "And they would have gotten away with it..."
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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8940 Post by Arvid Rosengren » November 22nd, 2020, 12:22 pm

Don Cornwell wrote:
November 22nd, 2020, 2:12 am
A NEAR MISS … 607 LOTS REMOVED FROM BONHAMS HONG KONG AUCTION
...
We flagged approximately one hundred lots of the 607 contained in the consignment. Given the width and breadth of the counterfeits that we found, we were also concerned because there were many lots in the catalog for which there were no photographs.
...
This one is pretty shocking. I'm also surprised at the level of wine being forged. The fact that people think it's worth their time to fake Clerget Volnays or make up Mugnier Chambertins speaks to a level of infrastructure that's impressive, even if the fakes are easily spotted. If they can do that, all they're missing is to study up on their wine history. Scary thought. It definitely moves the needle for me on the "No one would bother faking this wine"-scale.

Don, How many lots did you inspect? 100/607 is bad enough, but it sounds like it could actually be far worse than that if there wasn't photographs of a lot of them.

---

As for the Acker sale, the 1959 LT was pulled ahead of the start of the sale, the other commented lots stayed in and sold, a couple of them well beyond the estimates.
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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8941 Post by JBrochu » November 22nd, 2020, 12:35 pm

How do so many forgeries end up in one collection? Is the owner complicit, or did some forgers find a sugar daddy?
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#8942 Post by Don Cornwell » November 22nd, 2020, 12:39 pm

Arvid Rosengren wrote:
November 22nd, 2020, 12:22 pm
Don Cornwell wrote:
November 22nd, 2020, 2:12 am
A NEAR MISS … 607 LOTS REMOVED FROM BONHAMS HONG KONG AUCTION
...
We flagged approximately one hundred lots of the 607 contained in the consignment. Given the width and breadth of the counterfeits that we found, we were also concerned because there were many lots in the catalog for which there were no photographs.
...
This one is pretty shocking. I'm also surprised at the level of wine being forged. The fact that people think it's worth their time to fake Clerget Volnays or make up Mugnier Chambertins speaks to a level of infrastructure that's impressive, even if the fakes are easily spotted. If they can do that, all they're missing is to study up on their wine history. Scary thought. It definitely moves the needle for me on the "No one would bother faking this wine"-scale.

Don, How many lots did you inspect? 100/607 is bad enough, but it sounds like it could actually be far worse than that if there wasn't photographs of a lot of them.

---

As for the Acker sale, the 1959 LT was pulled ahead of the start of the sale, the other commented lots stayed in and sold, a couple of them well beyond the estimates.
Arvid

Thanks for the update on Acker.

As to the Bonhams wines, one of the team members in Hong Kong had previously inspected the collection. I'm told that some of the the obviously counterfeit DRC and Liger-Belair were removed after his inspection. We reviewed every photo in the Bonhams catalog from the A1 Collection and checked the larger photos on line. I didn't keep a count, but I'm going to guess that was roughly 200 different photos. So the percentage of fakes among the photos was very high. In a couple of cases -- the purported 1999 Frederic Mugnier Gevrey wines and 1990 Maison Leroy Musigny -- Bonhams didn't include catalog or online photos. We initially questioned the lot descriptions and then followed up.
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#8943 Post by Don Cornwell » November 22nd, 2020, 1:11 pm

JBrochu wrote:
November 22nd, 2020, 12:35 pm
How do so many forgeries end up in one collection? Is the owner complicit, or did some forgers find a sugar daddy?
That's a good question. As far as we know, no, the owner wasn't complicit. I don't know William Giauw personally, but one of the team members has met him and asked questions about the source of these wines. Mr. Giauw described a series of sources in Europe generally known to us to be the dodgiest and most frequent sources of counterfeit wines. I am really amazed that when the wines arrived at his cellar with all of the differently colored bottles and different sizes that the alarm bells didn't start going off for him.
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#8944 Post by Rich K0rz€nk0 » November 22nd, 2020, 1:50 pm

I'd also imagine that once someone was able to float counterfeits past him once they wagered they could do it again and he became a target.

Edit: And, its maybe easy to just dismiss it as just a guy with money getting taken and he'll live, yet its still sad. Sad for him I'm sure in hindsight as its a bit embarrassing more than financial impact; and its sad for the industry as the rewards go to the thieves. The industry is incented to conveniently turn a blind eye. Just reading what Don puts in to this, its obviously not easy however it demonstrates what a little effort and research can prevent.
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#8945 Post by Victor Hong » November 22nd, 2020, 2:23 pm

I recall the halcyon days of the early and middle 1990’s, when 1982, 1985, 1985, 1989, and 1990 Bordeaux were inexpensive and not economically worthwhile to counterfeit.

Building a collection then was a casual effort, which turned into a small fortune.
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#8946 Post by Don Cornwell » November 22nd, 2020, 4:40 pm

Rich K0rz€nk0 wrote:
November 22nd, 2020, 1:50 pm
I'd also imagine that once someone was able to float counterfeits past him once they wagered they could do it again and he became a target.

Edit: And, its maybe easy to just dismiss it as just a guy with money getting taken and he'll live, yet its still sad. Sad for him I'm sure in hindsight as its a bit embarrassing more than financial impact; and its sad for the industry as the rewards go to the thieves. The industry is incented to conveniently turn a blind eye. Just reading what Don puts in to this, its obviously not easy however it demonstrates what a little effort and research can prevent.
It is really the lack of effort which is astounding here.

What we do is not rocket science. In my case, it is very much like David Glasser said about Highlights for Children magazine at the doctor's office, i.e. "What's wrong with this picture?" Sure, it helps to have a sharp eye for detail and proportion, and it also helps to have compiled a huge file of exemplar labels over the years to refer to. The rest of it comes from doing what is usually quick research -- either looking at Google images or running searches, or both. If you don't know about a particular label or a particular Chateau or have doubts -- simply look it up. For example, I didn't really know the history of L'Eglise Clinet, but in less than three minutes I found a very detailed history of the producer and enough information to prove that the 1947 Chateau L'Eglise Clinet never existed as a wine label. After another three or four minutes I had a number of label exemplars which confirmed the printed history information.
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#8947 Post by WvanGorp » November 22nd, 2020, 5:33 pm

People have counterfeited $20 bills....why not lesser wines?
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#8948 Post by Kris Patten » November 22nd, 2020, 6:34 pm

WvanGorp wrote:
November 22nd, 2020, 5:33 pm
People have counterfeited $20 bills....why not lesser wines?
Inexpensive Penfold's wines get counterfeited. You can do a huge volume, make a ton of money and fly under the radar, especially when people think "why waste time counterfeiting that?"

Doesn't have to be Grange to be profitable.
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#8949 Post by J a y H a c k » November 22nd, 2020, 6:48 pm

Thread drift, In Post 8937, there is a photo with 3 bottles of 1943 DRC. All three have too much ullage, with one actually below the neck label. Do people actually buy bottles like that to drink or just to say that they have the bottle? If the latter, I guess I care a bit less about whether they are being scammed. I occasionally buy bottles from my birth year (1951) but not with ullage like that!
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Re: RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

#8950 Post by Arvid Rosengren » November 22nd, 2020, 6:50 pm

WvanGorp wrote:
November 22nd, 2020, 5:33 pm
People have counterfeited $20 bills....why not lesser wines?
There's not much difference in the paper/ink/machinery needed to forge a $20 bill or a $100 bill. In fact the risk of someone checking a $100 bill is a lot higher, easier to get away with $20 bills a store clerk isn't instructed to check.

For wine, there's different bottle sizes and makes, different paper qualities/ages/colors, letter presses, inks, corks, stamps and foils etc, before we even get to methods of "aging" the above. I would imagine the cost to switch your production from one wine to another is really high, so it'd only be worth it to forge things that really pay out when sold.

On the flip side, the easiest forgery is refilling authentic bottles. Cuts down a lot of these steps, and is exponentially harder to find with just photos. But, in that case, access is the problem.

The recent Sassicaia example is really interesting and worrying to me. They did one, fairly modest thing really well (at least from the sight, apparently the wine they filled the bottles with wasn't passable), and since they forged young wine it might be years before someone opens a bottle and starts asking questions. I'm really curious how they were tipped off actually... Scary prospect for the industry.
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