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Henry Tang sues US lawyer over wine auction claims

Hong Kong’s former first secretary, Henry Tang, is suing a US-based lawyer who questioned the authenticity of a small number of wines he sold via auction earlier this year.

A formal ‘writ of summons’ has been issued against Don Cornwell by the Court of First Instance within Hong Kong’s High Court.

Los Angeles-based Cornwell, a lawyer and Burgundy collector, has become known as a regular commentator on the authenticity of fine and rare wines sold at auction, predominantly via posts on the Wine Berserkers forum.

The lawsuit filed against him in Hong Kong seeks unspecified damages, accusing him of ‘injuring the reputation’ of Tang.

‘Further, despite requests to do so, the defendant has failed to desist from publishing the defamatory statements, to retract them and / or to apologise for them,’ states the document.

The writ focuses on Cornwell’s comments on Wine Berserkers in relation to ‘at least three’ lots of Domaine de la Romanee Conti (DRC) wines that were part of the Henry Tang Collection auction, organised and held by Christie’s over the 15 and 16 March this year.

In the same month, Tang labelled Cornwell’s comments as unsubstantiated and false, according to an earlier report by South China Morning Post.

At Christie’s, David Elswood, international head of wine, told decanter.com that the auction house continues to stand by the authenticity of the lots in question, ‘with the full support of DRC’. In total, the Tang Collection auction raised HK$48m (US$6.2m).

For now, the writ is only believed to be valid in Hong Kong. When contacted by decanter.com, Cornwell declined to comment on the matter.

Written by Chris Mercer

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