The Billionaire’s Vinegar, the book about the infamous Jefferson bottles affair, is to be made into a Hollywood film starring Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey.
The Sony Pictures film will be an adaptation of the book of the same name by Benjamin Wallace – an account of the discovery of a number of supposedly 18th century bottles of wine, their sale and the subsequent legal battles.
Matthew McConaughey, who won a Best Actor Academy Award in 2013 for his role as an AIDs-diagnosed cowboy in Dallas Buyers Club, will take the starring role, previously slated for fellow Hollywood star Brad Pitt. Wallace’s book will be adapted by Michael Brandt and Derek Haas, and Hollywood star Will Smith, among others, will be producing it.
The Jefferson bottles – more than dozen apparently 18th century wines from blue-chip properties – were reportedly found in a walled-up Paris basement in 1985 by German collector Hardy Rodenstock.
Some of them, including a bottle of 1787 Chateau Lafite, were engraved with the letters Th:J – which Rodenstock said meant they had been bought by Thomas Jefferson, when the future American President was ambassador to Paris.
Three of the bottles were sold at Christie’s between 1985 and 1987: the 1787 Lafite, a 1784 Chateau d’Yquem, and a half-bottle of 1784 Chateau Margaux.
Billionaire businessman William Koch later launched a series of lawsuits 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, former director of wine at Christie’s, which 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.
Written by Richard Woodard