Billionaire fine wine collector Bill Koch has had his court victory against Eric Greenberg for selling fake wine upheld by an appeals court in the US.
In April 2013, a jury awarded Koch US$12.4m, including $12m punitive damages, after Koch accused fellow wine enthusiast Greenberg of knowingly selling 24 fake bottles of Bordeaux at a 2005 Zachys auction.
Those amounts were later reduced by the trial judge to $1.15m, including $711,622 punitive damages.
The wines in question included Château Lafite Rothschild 1811, Chateau Latour 1864 and 1865 and a magnum of Pétrus 1921.
Now, reports Reuters, judges on the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York have voted 3-0 to dismiss an appeal from Greenberg against the earlier verdict.
‘Given the evidence that the defendant intended to sell counterfeit wine, at auctions aimed at the public, no manifest injustice exists in the imposition of a punitive damages award,’ the court is quoted as saying.
The court rejected Greenberg’s assertion that there was a ‘complete absence of evidence’ that he had deceived Koch into the buying the wine, which Greenberg still claims he thought was authentic.
Koch’s lawyer, Moez Kaba, told Reuters: ‘[The verdict] vindicates the long fight by Mr Koch to shine a light on the real problem of counterfeit wine in the auction market and hold people accountable.’
Koch, a self-styled crusader against fake fine wine, reached a $3m settlement with wine faker Rudy Kurniawan last year, and testified at Kurniawan’s trial, which resulted in a 10-year jail term for wine counterfeiting.