Las Vegas wine consultant Gil Lempert-Schwarz has filed a defamation lawsuit against fine wine authentication expert Maureen Downey over allegations that he was knowingly engaged in selling counterfeit wines.
Gil Lempert-Schwarz, who is the chairman of the Wine Institute of Las Vegas, has filed legal action against California-based Maureen Downey, of Chai Consulting and who recently launched the website winefraud.com.
The action comes in response to Downey’s allegations, including on the Wine Beserkers online forum and also reportedly at a wine event, that Lempert-Schwarz has knowingly been involved in the sale of counterfeit fine wines.
It is the latest development in an intermittent war of words between the pair.
When contacted by Decanter.com, Lempert-Schwarz declined to comment further on the case.
‘The reasons for the action are evident in the filed complaint, and as you know defamation is a very serious matter,’ he said.
Downey told Decanter.com that she was prepared to defend herself.
‘They have threatened before, and we have always maintained that I can support my statements.’
‘The suit was filed a week ago in Nevada (where I do not do business) and I am yet to be served. If I am served, we are very prepared to respond.’
Lempert-Schwarz recently confirmed to Wine-Searcher that he withdrew 18 wine lots from a sale by his Dragon 8 auction house in Hong Kong in November this year, after concerns were raised about the wines’ authenticity by a Los Angeles-based lawyer Don Cornwell.
But, Lempert-Schwarz said that further analysis showed that none of the wines in question, or those at auction, had any authenticity issues.
Lempert-Schwarz has previously consulted for several fine wine clients, including the Acker, Merrall & Condit auction house.