Millionaire accused of trying to sell fake wine for $1.3m

US court hears that dealer claimed bottles were a 1929 vintage, but estate did not open until 1934

A US millionaire wine dealer is facing fraud charges after being accused of trying to sell more than $1.3m (£800,000) in counterfeit wine, some of which seems to have made its way to London.

Prosecutors in New York charged Rudy Kurniawan, 35, with "multiple fraudulent schemes" relating to his wine business between 2007 and 2012, including attempting to sell fake wine and fraudulently obtaining millions of dollars in loans.

Several weeks ago, 21 of Mr Kurniawan's bottles worth £500,000 are believed to have made their way to a Spectrum and Vanquish auction in London. But they were reportedly withdrawn at the last minute on recommendation of the wine merchants Corney and Barrow.

Yesterday, Mr Kurniawan was refused bail after prosecutors – concerned he might attempt to flee to his home country of Indonesia – filed an emergency application.

Mr Kurniawan, said to be a constant fixture at the some of the US's biggest wine auction houses, offered buyers an unconditional return policy – something which is exceedingly rare in the industry.

In 2006 alone, he sold wine worth $35m, attracting a clientele including the billionaire businessman and collector William I Koch, who is now suing the dealer for allegedly selling him counterfeit wine.

But this weekend, Mr Kurniawan's days of wine and wealth may be over, if allegations in the case against him are proven, according to a Manhattan lawyer Preet Bharara.

The complaint alleges that in one scheme, Mr Kurniawan consigned for auction at least 84 bottles of counterfeit wine purporting to be from Domaine Ponsot in Burgundy, France which were expected to be sold for about $600,000. Mr Kurniawan attempted to sell one bottle that he claimed was a 1929 vintage, but the wine growers did not begin bottling from that estate until 1934, according to the complaint.

The prosecution claims the accused also consigned bottles of wine that had supposedly been bottled between 1945 and 1971 from the Clos Saint-Denis vineyard of Domaine Ponsot. But that vineyard was not productive until 1982. The wines were later withdrawn from the auction at the request of Domaine Ponsot's administrator.

When questioned by the administrator about the source of the wine, Mr Kurniawan apparently maintained that he had obtained the bottles from a person in Asia. He had handed over two telephone numbers for that person. But, according to the complaint, neither number led to that person or anyone who sold wine. One was for a regional Indonesian airline and the other for a shopping mall in Jakarta.

At a hearing in the District Court in Los Angeles last Thursday, prosecutors said a search of Mr Kurniawan's home had turned up materials which they claim were used in the counterfeiting of wine bottles.

They also claimed that Mr Kurniawan, who was arrested by officers from an elite New York-based squad that focuses on art and antique crimes, is living in the US illegally.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'