'New evidence' in Jefferson bottles case

  • Wednesday 11 June 2008

'Newly discovered facts' in the ongoing ‘Jefferson bottles’ case have come to light, according to billionaire collector William I Koch.

Koch has asked a New York federal court to let him update his fraud lawsuit against German dealer Hardy Rodenstock, because of this new evidence relating to Rodenstock’s business activities which surfaced last month.

The latest filing by Koch, a Florida resident, seeks to persuade the court that it has 'personal jurisdiction' over his suit alleging that his so-called Thomas Jefferson bottles are forgeries.

Rodenstock had asked the court to dismiss Koch's suit because it had no jurisdiction over it.

Though agreeing with Rodenstock, the court let Koch refile his complaint, and he did so first in February. In his latest move, Koch asks permission to file a 'second amended complaint.'

Originally Koch charged that four 'Jefferson' bottles he bought – three through Farr Vintners in London, one from the Chicago Wine Company – are counterfeits.

He says he has now obtained evidence – including documents from and to Rodenstock and eyewitness testimony – that makes clear that at least nine additional bottles in his collection obtained from Farr that 'are either fake or highly suspect, originated with Rodenstock.'

He lists them as follows: 1737 Lafite, 1737 Mouton, 1771 Lafite, 1848 Mouton,1864 Lafite, 1858 Mouton, 1893 Lafite, 1936 Pétrus, 1791 Latour.

Koch says that on May 14 and May 23 he received 'documents and information' from Farr 'about its relationship with Rodenstock during the late 1980s.'

In his latest filing, Koch says his sources enabled him to learn that 'Rodenstock arranged for and participated in wine tastings in New York and other locations in the United States in order to further his counterfeit wines business.'

Alluding to his 'Jefferson' bottles, Koch says, 'Documentary evidence shows that Rodenstock wrote a letter to Farr in the late 1980s and mentioned Koch by name, proving he knew who Farr's customer was.' Koch says his 'money was paid or credited to Rodenstock.'

Koch also declares 'Rodenstock arranged on multiple occasions for Farr to deliver his counterfeit wines to customers in the United States, including New York.'

He alleges that Rodenstock had provided Royal Wine Merchants, a Manhattan dealer, with 'rare vintages,' which were 'often counterfeits, for distribution to Royal Wine customers in the United States, including New York.'

Reached by decanter.com, Daniel Olivares, a Royal Wine principal, said that Royal had sold wines provided by Rodenstock, that Royal had no awareness of the presence of frauds and that the wines 'had been tasted in Europe by some of the finest tasters on the planet.'

Farr Vintners director Stephen Browett declined to comment on the latest Koch filing except to say ‘our lawyers are in contact with Koch's lawyers.'

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