Los Angeles-based wine dealer Rudy Kurniawan is accused of defrauding some of the wealthiest people in the world. He is currently on trial in a New York City courtroom for selling not-so-fine wine to people that believed they were purchasing the best of the best. Billionaire industrialist William I. Koch testified that he was conned in 2005, paying $35,000 for a double magnum of 1947 Chateau Petrus from the Bordeaux region.
Mr. Kurniawan is reported to have sold $35 million worth of wine in 2006 alone.
A laser printer, sealing wax, ink stamps, empty bottles, and old corks were found at his home office. Wine producers, authenticators, collectors, and sommeliers are testifying in the case, offering their expertise on distinguishing counterfeit from authentic bottles of wine.
Kurniawan’s alleged actions have uncorked a blip in this market that created a rippling repercussions felt worldwide, according to industry insiders as reported by the Los Angeles Times.
…."Every single person who drinks wine was affected by this because it drove all prices up," said Maureen Downey, a sommelier and wine consultant in San Francisco who came to New York to watch the trial in federal court in Lower Manhattan. "When you raise the ceiling, you raise the floor."