Bill Koch, the fine wine collector and self-styled crusader against fake bottles, will receive fewer damages following his court victory against Eric Greenberg - but the billionaire says the verdict is more important.
Bill Koch, the fine wine collector and self-styled crusader against fake bottles, will receive fewer damages following his court victory against Eric Greenberg – but the billionaire says the verdict is more important.
Judge J. Paul Oetken this week reduced Koch’s damages award from an initial £12m to just $711,622, on the ground that the initial sum was out of context with the case.
It is almost one year to the day since Koch won his lawsuit against Greenberg, in what was seen as a significant victory in Koch’s long-running battle against counterfeit fine wine.
Koch had accused Greenberg of knowingly selling him dubious bottles when auctioneer Zachys sold 17,000 bottles from Greenberg’s collection. Koch claimed that 24 of the US$3.7m of rare bottles he bought at that sale are dubious or fake.
Despite the lower damages, judge Oetken still agreed that Greenberg ‘shamelessly defrauded’ Koch.
In a statement issued to Decanter.com, Koch appeared relaxed about the damages award.
‘We are very pleased that the Court found today that the jury correctly decided every cause of action in favor of Mr Koch and that Mr Greenberg’s ‘reprehensible’ conduct was an appropriate basis for punitive damages,’ he said.
‘Our goal from the start was to shine a bright light on fraud that had formerly lurked undetected, and today’s decision represents yet another spotlight on a wine fraudster’s conduct.’
Koch recently gave evidence that helped to convict wine fraudster Rudy Kurniawan in New York. He has pledged to continue pursuing counterfeiters in the fine wine sector.
Those close to him say that the billionaire is not motivated by money in his crusade against fake wines. Rather, he feels personally sleighted.
Written by Chris Mercer