Court rejects Koch appeal to sue Christie's

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  • Monday 8 October 2012

US billionaire says Christie's got away with a 'hoax' after appeals court rejects his bid to sue.

Bill Koch

US billionaire William Koch has continued to lambast Christie's over the Jefferson wine sale 'hoax', despite losing another court battle to sue the auction house.

Koch has seen his bid to sue Christie's quashed for a second time in the space of two years. The US Court of Appeals in Manhattan upheld an earlier ruling that Koch did not take legal action soon enough.

The case relates to the now infamous Jefferson wines, a cache discovered in a bricked-up Paris cellar in the 1980s, including Lafite and other notable Bordeaux names. They supposedly belonged to the late Thomas Jefferson and were inscribed 'Th.J'.

Koch had claimed Christie’s knowingly sold him a counterfeit bottle of 1870 Lafite for US$4,200, and that the auction house failed to raise reasonable doubts about the authenticity of the Jefferson wines in general. Christie's rejects the claims.

'Christies got away with one of the biggest hoaxes to ever hit the wine market,' Koch's spokesperson, Brad Goldstein, told Decanter.com after the appeal court verdict. 'We believe the court erred.'

Goldstein insisted the Jefferson wines 'are without doubt bogus' and that he tracked down those responsible for inscribing Th.J on the bottles. 'Every engraving was done with an electric drill,' he said.

Christie's lawyer Jonathan Lerner said the appeals court ruling settles the case against it once and for all.
'My reading of the unanimous and decisive opinion of the Court of Appeals leads me to conclude the real "hoax" is Koch's claim in the complaint he filed that he was not aware of any "credible question" concerning the authenticity of the Jefferson wine until shortly before it was filed.

'Now, it's time for him to move on,' Lerner told Decanter.com

In 2010, Koch won a default judgement against Hardy Rodenstock, the German wine dealer who discovered the Jefferson wines cache, after Rodenstock failed to show at the court hearing in New York.

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