17th June, 2014 by Richard Ross
US Billionaire Bill Koch has appeared on American television to admit he was a ‘sucker for fake wines’ after spending around $5 million on bottles that have now been established as counterfeit.
Koch was interviewed at his Palm Beach mansion in Florida for ABC’s 20/20 news programme and admits he was seriously duped when he bought the wine from counterfeiters. He says in the interview: “You’re damn right: pigeon, sucker, whatever they call the mark.”
In the 12,000 bottle cellar of his Florida home, Koch is filmed showing off some of the fake bottles he bought from convicted fraudster Rudy Kurniawan and others. Koch admits he was obsessive about acquiring some of these supposedly rare bottles. “I just had to have them”, he tells ABC’s Brian Ross. He admits that at first he thought he was buying a piece of history. “Instead”, he says, “I’m buying, I don’t know, moose piss”.
Koch admits he has already spent more than $25 million dollars in his pursuit of alleged counterfeiters, a figure five times higher than the original cost of the bottles, but one he is happy to pay.
“I cannot stand being cheated,” Koch tells ABC. “I want someone to know if they’re selling me a fake, man, I’m coming after them no matter how much it costs.”
Koch testified in the case against Rudy Kurniawan, who was convicted last year of counterfeiting, and Koch’s investigating team also worked closely with the FBI to build evidence against the counterfeiter.
However, Koch remains passionate about the qualities of great wine. Asked whether it’s ever reasonable to pay $100,000 for a single bottle of wine, Koch becomes tearful as he describes how “the art, craftsmanship that goes into it is worth it”.
The ABC 20/20 news report is available to view here.