Billionaire wine collector sheds tears over fake wine

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  • Tuesday 17 June 2014

Billionaire wine collector Bill Koch has said he will keep chasing fine wine fakers no matter the cost, as he choked back tears during a television interview in the US.

Bill Koch

Koch (pictured) said in an interview with the ABC News 20/20programme that he has so far spent $25m to bring fine wine counterfeiters to justice, and has no qualms about spending more.

'I cannot stand to be cheated,' said the billionaire collector who recently helped to convict wine fraudster Rudy Kurniawan by giving evidence at the self-styled Dr Conti's trial in December last year.

Those close to Koch, who is a 'western' films fanatic and has an estimated fortune of $3.8bn, have always said that his mission to root out counterfeits of rare and fake wines was a personal issue that had little relation to money.

'I want someone to know: if they sell me a fake, I'm coming after 'em, no matter how much it costs,' Koch said in the ABC interview.

When Koch was asked whether he thought a wine could ever be worth tens of thousands of pounds, he became very emotional and had to choke back tears during his answer.

'The art, the craftmanship that goes into it, is worth that,' he said.

During the Kurniawan trial, Koch said he believed 443 bottles in his cellar were counterfeit, for which he estimated that he paid around $4.4m. He told jurors he was yet to finish examining his entire collection.

Most recently, Koch saw his damages award following his court victory against wine collector Eric Greenberg reduced from an initial £12m to just $711,622, on the grounds that the initial sum was out of context with the case.

Koch still has legal action pending against Kurniawan, who is currently awaiting sentencing.

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