Rudy Kurniawan, the millionaire wine collector, has been arrested on fraud charges.
The 35-year-old was arrested in Los Angeles yesterday by the FBI on charges – filed in New York – of trying to sell counterfeit wine that would have been worth US$1.3m if genuine.
The case against Kurniawan is that in 2008 he consigned some 84 bottles purporting to be from Domaine Ponsot in Burgundy, including one from 1929, which was impossible as the estate did not begin bottling until 1934.
Other bottles were labelled 1945-1971 from the Clos St Denis vineyard by Dme Ponsot, but the domaine did not make wine from that vineyard until 1982.
The bottles were withdrawn from the auction, run by Acker Merrall and Condit, at the request of the domaine.
Kurniawan has also been charged with fraudulently obtaining loans.
The Indonesian-born collector who is resident in the USA has long been a fixture of the international ultra-fine wine scene.
His clientele included billionaire collector William I Koch, who named him in one of his myriad lawsuits, claiming he had been sold counterfeit bottles emanating from Kurniawan.
His name surfaced again earlier this year when it was alleged dozens of lots of suspect Burgundy from Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, withdrawn from a London auction run by California auction house Spectrum and London merchant Vanquish, had been consigned by Kurniawan.
The auction house categorically denied the bottles were from Kurniawan.
Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement, ‘Mr Kurniawan’s days of wine and wealth are over, if the allegations in this case are proven. Rudy Kurniawan held himself out to be a wine aficionado with a nose for a counterfeit bottle, but he was the counterfeit.’
- Anthony Rose examines the Spectrum/Vanquish auction and the withdrawn bottles of DRC in this month’s Decanter magazine, out now
Written by Adam Lechmere