Doyle Exposed To Kurniawan Fraud

Restaurant-owner, wine-lover extraordinaire and part-time Sydney resident David Doyle is one of the wine collectors most exposed to the fraud of Rudy Kurniawan.

Doyle admitted that he had bought $14 million worth of wine from Kurniawan, who has been found guilty of counterfeiting wine and defrauding a finance company, and is due to be sentenced this week in the US. Doyle also estimated between $8 million and $10 million worth of his purchases were fakes.

Doyle is an American who founded Quest Software and owns a $40 million wine collection, some of which he sells through his restaurants. He is part-owner of Sydney’s Rockpool Bar & Grill restaurant. His massive collection has helped Rockpool Bar & Grill win many wine list awards (see my post later this week about its latest award).

It seems that Doyle is the most-exposed wine collector to the Kurniawan fraud. Another victim is Florida energy executive Bill Koch, who had experts examine his cellar, with the result that at least $2.2 million worth is fake. Koch first came to the attention of the world’s wine community when he pursued the German wine collector Hardy Rodenstock, who was accused of fraud over the supposed Thomas Jefferson wines. Koch also pursued auctioneers Acker, Merrall & Condit, and achieved an out-of-court settlement from them. The auction house handled a large volume of Kurniawan’s wine.

Apparently, other collectors are less specific, and some of the most exposed are reluctant to talk. Perhaps because they don’t want to be seen as dupes; perhaps because they are still trying to off-load their wine.

According to Wine Spectator Online, federal prosecutors called for a jail term of 14 years, plus a financial judgment of $20.7 million, based on estimates of what Kurniawan made from making and selling fakes. The defence team, however, argued that evidence suggests Kurniawan only sold $7 million worth of fakes. Only. 

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