Very interesting. This is the same person I`ve bought a few wines from through Wine Commune. What I remember most is it took a long time for them to be shipped requiring a lot of follow up and more importantly, many were oxidized. I learned my lesson to always look at the seller before bidding. On this website, I went to the “feedback” portion of the menu and discovered numerous complaints about service, etc. I never bought again from this seller.
Jim Leeuw’s conduct was outrageous. It’s something he should have been criminally prosecuted for, but apparently wasn’t (or hasn’t been yet). This is reminiscent of the Rare LLC wine fraud which was prosecuted by the Department of Justice a few years ago. Here’s the link to the press release in that case when he agreed to plead guilty. http://www.justice.gov/usao/cac/Pressroom/pr2005/092.html
Don, I appreciate your exposing this and other fraudulent wine brokers/ traders as the Wine Underground has expanded upon in this case. It is shameful that this even exists. I was suspicious of Leeuw after my first transactions and it became more apparent something was amiss here after a few more transactions and the state of the wines. This post just substantiates it. No question, caveat emptor.
I live in Dallas and previously purchased wines from this guy. First, a couple of the things I bought on WC were in perfect shape. Others were not, but since the price was not particularly high, I didn’t fight it much. Finally, I got a few bottles of Kistler, and all were cooked. I bitched, went to his warehouse near the design district, and received some wines in exchange. Of those, three of four were great. I never spent big money with the guy, given the poor performance of a number of his wines.
Then, I made a case purchase of various semi-aged california cabs (1991-1997) and some Kistler Cuvee Cathleens (sp). It took me weeks before I finally could get someone around for pickup, since I didn’t want to ship in a Texas summer. When I finally had someone meet me at the warehouse, it took about twenty minutes to “find” my wine, and then only about 7 bottles were present. I asked where the Kistler Cuvees were, and a Togni cab or something, and was told to wait a moment. When the sales guy couldn’t find the bottles and said he’d have to get with Jim to locate them, I went back to work.
I’d heard nothing by the end of the next week. I called and then got in a debate about what I’d actually picked up. I sent correspondence to Jim and received no response, and shortly thereafter, my phone calls went unanswered and unreturned. Again, the dollar amount wasn’t worth a fight, and so I walked, never to do business with The Wine Broker again. What a crook, and thank goodness for Grailey’s.
Who knows if it’s true, but I hear the guy’s wife’s health just went to complete shit sometime in the last two years.
As set forth in the plea agreement, some of Wallace’s victims include Paul and Maurice Marciano, who are executives with Guess? Jeans; Jamie Moyer, a pitcher with the Seattle Mariners; Garth Ancier, an executive with the WB Network; Arthur Sarkissian, a movie executive; and Antonio Castanos, a local restaurant owner.
Yes indeed. A very small world. I know Paul and Maurice Marciano having litigated against them previously when I represented the owners of Jordache, who at that time owned 50% of Guess.
Ironically, Paul Marciano also filed a lawsuit against Zachys which includes counterfeit wine claims. Marciano alleged that Zachys sold him 8 cases of counterfeit 1982 Petrus in 1991 as well as some other vintages of Petrus subsequently. In 2009 he decided to consign a lot of the Petrus to auction. His complaint alleges that Matt Chung, then of Zachys, inspected the wines in his cellar in January of 2009 and accepted them, and removed them to Zachy’s warehouse. Then in March of 2009 Zachy’s told him that it was refusing to auction the 1982 Petrus because they were counterfeit.
Marciano then filed a lawsuit against Zachys, but his lawyer appears to have outsmarted himself. The lawsuit essentially alleged that Paul Marciano was blameless – either the eight cases of 1982 Petrus were counterfeit when Marciano bought them in 1991 or the wines were legitimate when sold and Zachy’s Auctions switched the legitimate bottles from Marciano for counterfeits between January of 2009 when the wines were accepted by Zachy’s and March of 2009 when Zachy’s informed Marciano that the wines were counterfeit.
After Marciano filed his lawsuit here in Los Angeles Superior Court Zachy’s moved to compel arbitration based upon the auction consignment agreement signed by Marciano in 2009. As the Court properly noted, only the claims relating to the auction agreement would be subject to arbitration, i.e. the claim that Zachy’s switched fake bottles for his legitimate ones (which was an alternative “either/or” type claim.) The Court said that claim was properly subject to arbitration in New York, but that the claim based upon sale of counterfeit wines back in 1991 was not subject to arbitration, so the Court stayed the prosecution of the 1991 sale claims and ordered the “auction-related” claims to arbitration in New York. Mr. Marciano’s plan to prosecute the lawsuit as an “either/or” claim in front of a jury was thus frustrated and he was left with trying to prove in arbitration that Zachy’s took his 8 cases of legitimate 1982 Petrus and substituted counterfeits in the boxes.
The case was eventually resolved in some fashion and was dismissed in August of 2010, but I have no information about the ultimate outcome. Does anyone know how this was resolved?