U.S. to auction real wine from fraudster who sold fake wine

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 20, 2015 4:53 PM

By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) - The U.S. Marshals Service plans to auction 4,711 bottles of wine that belonged to Rudy Kurniawan, the Indonesian wine dealer serving a 10-year prison term following his 2013 fraud conviction for making and selling counterfeit wine.

The 4,711 bottles have been deemed authentic, and will be sold in two online auctions starting on Nov. 24 and on Dec. 1, the Marshals Service said on Friday.

Kurniawan had kept the wine in storage in California and intended to use much of it to produce fake high-end wine, the Marshals Service added.

Prosecutors said the fake wine from Kurniawan included some that he mixed in his kitchen.

Michael Egan, a former Sotheby's director who testified as an expert prosecution witness against Kurniawan, helped authenticate the wine being auctioned and removed bottles he determined were counterfeit, the Marshals Service said.

“It may sound ironic that we are selling wine that belonged to a convicted wine counterfeiter," Jason Martinez, assistant program manager of the Marshals Service's asset forfeiture unit, said in a statement. "We are duty-bound to recoup as much value from the sale of these authentic wines as possible to compensate those who were victims of his fraud."

The wines to be sold include several bottles of Romanée-Conti from Burgundy and a 1945 Château Mouton Rothschild from Bordeaux with a faded vintage on the cork.

The auctions are being held at (http://txauction.com).

Kurniawan is housed at the Taft Correctional Institute in California; he is not eligible for release until January 2021.

Egan, who according to his website lives in France, did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler)