One Collector's Quest to Expose Wine Counterfeiters

  • December 22, 2013 22:20

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A Burgundy vineyard. ARTFIXdaily photo.

Palm Beach and Cape Cod-based collector William I. Koch (Bill) has sought to buy the very best, from Monet to Remington, along with 40,000 bottles of the rarest wines. And the billionaire energy executive doesn't like to be swindled, he says.

Koch told Martha Teichner of CBS News that he has spent $4.5 million on 421 bottles of wine that turned out to be counterfeit, and that is why he gets "great satisfaction" from pursuing the fraudsters behind the scams.

Nearly $25 million has been spent by Koch on wine-related lawsuits, so far, according to CBS.

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Just last week, the Indonesian citizen Rudy Kurniawan, based in LA, was convicted of fraud for a $35 million wine auction scam. The so-called "Bernie Madoff" of the wine world faced Koch as a star witness for the prosecution.

Worldwide sales of "collectible" wine dropped 19% last year, by nearly $100 million, and experts believe the cause is fraudsters like Kurniawan who taint the market.

Winemakers are taking precautions against faking newer wines. California's Opus One has added a tamper-proof capsule that changes color and a chip that can be scanned with a phone, sending a signal to the winery's servers.

Read more at CBS


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