Accused Wine Counterfeiter Rudy Kurniawan Guilty in Landmark CaseDecember 19, 2013
Rudy Kurniawan did something unprecedented in the world of rare wines in 2006. An Acker, Merrall & Condit auction of his wines raised $24.7 million, the largest total ever for a single consignor. Yesterday, Kurniawan set another precedent. A federal jury pronounced him guilty of fraud for selling counterfeit wines and defrauding a finance company, making the 37-year-old Indonesian the first person tried and convicted for selling fake wines in the U.S., reports Wine Spectator.
Wearing an ill-fitting gray suit, Kurniawan stood tight-lipped, with his hands crossed in front of him, as a middle-aged woman, the forewoman for a 12-person jury, read the verdict. He gave no reaction. His lawyers did not look at him. The jury deliberated for about an hour and 45 minutes before returning at10:55 a.m. with the decision.
Burgundy winemaker Laurent Ponsot, who has attended each day of the proceedings, told Wine Spectator after the verdict, “I feel no pity for him. It’s good justice.”
After the verdict was read, Judge Richard Berman set a sentencing date for April 24. Kurniawan faces a possible 40 years in prison, as well as fines. “He really just wanted to be accepted,” said Kurniawan attorney Jerome Mooney after the decision. “People were very supportive of him, but the moment he was arrested, everybody ran. My theory: He comes up with some wines that were truly rare. Suddenly people want to be with him. When he couldn’t find more, he made it.”Subscribe to Shanken News Daily’s Email Newsletter, delivered to your inbox each morning.