Selling rare old wine is basically over – William Koch

The business of selling rare old wine is basically over because of the preponderance of fakes, says billionaire American wine collector William Koch. Koch is the man who brought charges against convicted fraudster Rudi Kurniawan and German collector Hardy Rodenstock. Kurniawan is now in jail.

In an article in the online magazine ‘Eater’, Koch also noted that many auction houses had added what he termed a ‘get out of jail free’ card to their terms of sale since he began his series of litigations. He says the terms now often stipulate that the auction houses themselves cannot be held responsible for selling bottles later deemed to be fakes.

Koch added that he had decided to stop suing people who may have sold him counterfeit wine. “I’m not going after anyone else because I think I got all of them. I got the main fakers,” he says.

Australia’s wine auction specialist, Langton’s, warns buyers with a ‘caveat emptor’ (buyer beware), and says that under certain conditions, it may accept returns of wine, but not for wines older than 15 years. Its terms and conditions include this: “…Langton’s, its employees and agents shall not be responsible for the correctness of any statement as to authorship, origin, date, age, attribution or provenance of any Goods, nor for any other errors of description or for any faults or defects in any Goods sold by Auction and no warranty whatsoever is given by Langton’s, its employees or agents in respect of any such Goods.”

Caveat emptor indeed.

Graysonline says it will accept returns if goods are found to have been incorrectly described. 

2 thoughts on “Selling rare old wine is basically over – William Koch”

  1. Howard Hilton says:

    Huon have you drunk any of this phony wine and if you did what did you think about it. Is the an ‘Emperors New Clothes’ thing in which no one can tell the difference. Vivre la difference as the frenchies say.

    1. Huon Hooke
      Huon Hooke says:

      Not that I’m aware of, Howard. I did once share in a fake 1927 Portuguese vintage port but it was so obviously a fake that no-one took it seriously and it was bought at auction for very little money. But the fact that it was sold at an auction was not a proud moment for the wine auction business. It was apparently an Australian vintage port, young and quite good I’d say, bottled in an original English merchant’s bottle. The cork was young and there was no capsule.

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