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Brad Pitt to star in The Billionaire’s Vinegar

The Billionaire's Vinegar, the controversial book about the Jefferson bottles affair, is being made into a film starring Brad Pitt.

The film, which is in development and should be released later this year, is produced by actor Will Smith, who bought the rights to Benjamin Wallace’s 2008 book.

The Billionaire’s Vinegar is the story of the affair of the Jefferson bottles and its attendant court cases has enthralled the wine world for years.

At the heart of the case is a cache of more than a dozen supposedly 18th-century bottles apparently found in a walled-up basement in Paris in 1985 by German collector Hardy Rodenstock.

Some of these, including the now-notorious bottle of 1787 Lafite, were engraved Th:J. According to Rodenstock they were bought by Thomas Jefferson when he was ambassador to Paris.

Three of the bottles were sold at Christie’s between 1985 and 1987: the 1787 Lafite, a 1784 Château d’Yquem, and a half-bottle of 1784 Château Margaux.

Malcolm Forbes, the late publisher, paid US$156,450 for the 1787 Lafite in the 1985 auction, a single-bottle auction record that remains unsurpassed.

Another billionaire businessman, William Koch, has six different lawsuits or appeals running against retailers, vendors and major auction houses involving allegedly fake bottles, several of them connected with the Jefferson bottles.

In 2009 Decanter’s veteran columnist Michael Broadbent and former director of wine at Christie’s, who auctioned some of the bottles, successfully sued Random House, the UK publisher of The Billionaire’s Vinegar for libel, claiming the book made allegations suggesting he had behaved unprofessionally.

Random House apologised unreservedly for making the allegations and accepted that they were untrue, gave an undertaking not to repeat the allegations and paid Broadbent undisclosed damages

Michael Broadbent said he did not wish to comment.

Written by Adam Lechmere

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