% of counterfeits in a collection

Lets say someone was assembling a wine collection in the last 20 years. Buying widely at auction, neither particularly recklessly nor with particular care for provenance. Just a typical, high-end collector accumulating wines at auction. What percentage of that cellar do you think would be counterfeit?

I think it depends on price. I’d imagine that people aren’t counterfeiting auction bottles that sell for less than $200 as often as they counterfeit auction bottles that sell for $1k+.

If we’re talking $1k+ bottles only I think it has to be higher than 10% and I suspect it’s actually much higher than that. Wine auction items are adversely selected. The seller knows significantly more than the buyer; counterfeiters will sell their fake bottles and collectors will, on average (though not all), prefer to sell those bottles with a more questionable provenance.

Auction houses claim they don’t accept just anyone but they’re probably not doing a bottle by bottle analysis for counterfeiting and we’ve seen that if many of them can make a profit and get away with something by turning a blind eye, they will.

Let’s assume these are high-end bottles, the sort of bottles that someone with a nine-figure net worth would buy.

Define “high end.”

The percentage of facts in my cellar is almost certainly zero. Who would bother?

You’re assuming an unproven connection between net worth and bottle cost. I know people (and if you post here, you do too) that have little net worth but (or because they) spend their discretionary dollars on high-ticket wine.

I could afford a cellar of DRC and Petrus, I suppose, but have none because I don’t particularly want them at their cost

less than 1%

Fine. Assume this is a collection with a high average bottle cost. Lots of trophies. Typical mix of CA, bdx, burg.


Just ask Roberto about the Lamborghini driving Persians that will not spend more than $300 on a case of obscure Italian white that only he carries, coincidentally.

Jesus, all I am asking for is the percentage of counterfeits in a typical low-seven figure collection. I get that the guy might have 20,000 cases of two-buck chuck but that’s not particularly likely.


Disagree. Probably 1.29% too low.

why must you blaspheme?

i’ll go with perhaps 1% at most.

Sure, if you are rounding up

This is a really dumb question. If you look at all the multimillion dollar consignments at the various auction houses, there have been a wide range of wines within them: there’s not much you can call similar between the consignments of the Fox Cellar, Harris, Koch, or Welland.

Also, 20,000 cases of TBC doesn’t scratch $1m, even at $4/bt (which is higher than the Trader Joe’s price). Math fail.

With the info you supplied it is possible to make a total bullshit guess. With more information (labels favored, auction houses frequented) it would be possible to make a slightly more educated guess.

Let’s say that same person bought direct off of lists like, I don’t know, Once & Future maybe. How many in the collection would be counterfeit? [snort.gif] neener deadhorse

I don’t know that there is really a “typical collection” for your wealthy big-time collector.

I think the answer is that there are certain wines and types of wines that are most likely to be faked, and the more of those you have, the higher the likelihood you have some fakes. And there are certain sources and circumstances that are more likely to yield you fakes (as well as ones, like buying direct from the winery which have zero chance of being fakes), and the more you’ve bought from those, the more likely you have fakes.

If everything has to be boiled down to one average and one single percentage, I’d say 0.1% to 0.25%. I think even more rich big-time collectors only have a relatively very number of bottles from the “forgery danger zone,” and then only some percentage of those were bought in circumstances that have more counterfeit risk.

I’m nearly certain I’ve ever owned a counterfeit bottle, though I’m not the type of collector David Z is asking about.

A big question for the OP is whether or not the collector is actually performing his/her due diligence, or is the purchasing at auction being relegated to a lackey/minion that is only chasing labels/points/trophies?

If the latter, then I imagine the percentage is statistical higher.

Well the original poster asked if the collection was assembled solely at auction (presumably excluding the direct from producer items sold at auction).

It’s an awkward topic and no one can have a strong idea of this but it’s relevant because anyone who buys at auction is presumably pricing in the counterfeit risk.

If you look at the premium ‘perfect’ provenance auction items command, it certainly suggests that many people price that counterfeit risk at higher than single digit percentage points for most auction items. What I’m saying is if, for example, someone is willing to pay 50% more for something with assured provenance, what does that say about how they view the counterfeit risk in the average auction?