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Friday 25 April 2014

‘Vast majority’ of Kurniawan’s wines were fake

17th December, 2013 by Lucy Shaw

The “vast majority” of wines found at the home of alleged wine fraudster Rudy Kurniawan were fakes, a wine authentication expert has testified in court.

Rudy

Taking the witness stand on day six of the trial of Rudy Kurniawan in New York, Michael Egan, who spent 24 years in the Sotheby’s wine department, told the jury that, having “very carefully” examined 267 bottles allegedly attributed to Kurniawan’s “wine factory”, he found “the vast majority to be counterfeit.”

As reported by AFP, it remains unclear how many bottles of fake wine the 37-year-old collector allegedly put onto the market during his 10-year career as a wine dealer before he was arrested at his California home last March.

Egan told the 12-member jury that, since 2006, he had examined 1,433 counterfeit wines from seven clients, 75% of which came from Rudy Kurniawan.

Labels and foils seized by the FBI at Kurniawan’s LA home

While he testified, Indonesian-born Kurniawan sat expressionless in court.

Egan went on to tell the jury that during Kurniawan’s reign as a wine dealer, from 2002 to 2007, the wine market grew in value from US$90 million to $300m.

Two 2006 auctions in New York alone offering Kurniawan wines raised $35m.

Egan explained that when labouring in the wine laboratory he set up in his kitchen, Kurniawan worked from an authentic wine label but changed the year, added a stamp and a serial number, then printed it in high resolution.

The 19,000 or so labels found in Kurniawan’s home represented 27 of the rarest and most sought after wines in the world.

Kurniawan copied stamps used by top Bordeaux and Burgundy estates and bought large quantities of wax to make old-style corks, Egan said.

The defence has portrayed Kurniawan, who has been living illegally in the US for a decade, as an “outsider” keen to belong to a group of rich, successful fine wine lovers in the US. Kurniawan faces up to 40 years in jail if convicted.

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