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Wine Spectator: Want To Buy Wine From Master Counterfeiter Rudy Kurniawan?

November 24, 2015

If someone offered to sell you wine that once belonged to convicted wine counterfeiter Rudy Kurniawan, would you buy it? Beginning today, 4,711 bottles confiscated from Kurniawan by federal marshals will be sold off in two internet auctions, each lasting two week. But not to worry. This stash has been cleared of his counterfeits. The marshals promise that every bottle has been authenticated. Kurniawan’s fakes are not on sale.

When FBI agents arrested Kurniawan in March 2012, they discovered thousands of bottles in various stages of tinkering in his Los Angeles home. But an even larger cache of his wines rested in a private section of a nearby wine storage warehouse. While a portion of that wine was also counterfeit, most was legitimate. Kurniawan had purchased bottles from dozens of auctions and domestic and European dealers.

Those warehoused wines, 5,300 bottles in all, were seized by the U.S. Marshal’s Service under terms of the Justice Department’s Asset Forfeiture Program. They were then consigned to Gaston & Sheehan, a Texas auctioneer that sells many kinds of property forfeited to the government.

“Based on sheer volume, this is is the largest authentication job we have ever done,” said Jason Martinez, assistant program manager of the Asset Forfeiture Divsion. Proceeds of the sales will be used to compensate Kurniawan’s victims, who purchased at least $20 million of wine that turned out to be worthless. Wine Spectator has the full story.

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