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Koch v Greenberg trial begins

Eric Greenberg protested his innocence as he took the stand in the civil trial that has been brought against him by fellow wine collector William Koch.

William Koch

Koch is suing Greenberg in the US District Court over US$320,000 he spent on 24 bottles of wine in 2005, which turned out to be fake.

John Hueston, Koch’s lawyer, told the court that is was heartbreaking for a collector to find out that wine was not authentic, because “it was about more than just a bottle and a flavour.”

Hueston added: “Koch will say these are links to history. It’s not just the juice in the package.”

The lawyer then told the court that Koch became interested in the auction after reading a brochure that promised buyers the “greatest wines of all time” and “extremely rare” bottles dating to the early 1800s.

He went on to claim that Greenberg had been warned by experts that the bottles in his collection were not authentic and he decided to push them into his auction, rather than discard them.

In giving his evidence Greenberg denied the charges against him.

He told the court: “I wouldn’t sell a fake wine. I’ve never intentionally sold fake wine in my life.”

Arthus Shartsis, one of Greenberg’s lawyers, told the court that his client was not to blame for any bad bottles of wine bought by Koch. He said that the sale catalogue warned buyers that the wine was sold “as is” and had no promises of authenticity.

Shartsis added that Greenberg had exposed corks on bottles so that buyers could examine them, had tried to remove bogus bottle from sale and that he had used an established auction house that inspected the bottles.

Greenberg’s lawyer also criticised Koch for not hiring anyone to inspect the bottles that he intended to buy before the auction. The trial continues.

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