Tang hits out at fake wine allegations

Hong Kong’s former chief secretary Henry Tang has hit out at claims that some of his wines sold at a recent Christie’s auction were counterfeit, dubbing them “unsubstantiated and false”.

Simon Tam of Christie's leads the Tang auction in Hong Kong

Simon Tam of Christie’s leads the Tang auction in Hong Kong

According to the South China Morning Post, Tang said all the lots in the auction were authentic and that he reserves his legal right against “unfounded allegations”.

“It has come to my attention that there were some allegations against a tiny part of my wine collection that was put to Christie’s for auction recently.

“These allegations are totally unsubstantiated and false. It is hardly convincing for anyone who purports to know wine just by looking at the labels without going into their provenance,” Tang said in a statement.

Christie’s added that famed Burgundy estate Domaine de la Romanée-Conti had confirmed that it has “no concerns” over the three lots’ authenticity.

One of the disputed lots: 1978 DRC Montrachet

One of the disputed lots: 1978 DRC Montrachet

LA-based attorney Don Cornwell wrote to Christie’s and the FBI before the auction last week stating that three lots in the Hong Kong auction were “problematic”.

The lots included a Methuselah of 1971 La Tâche, a three-bottle lot of 1959 Romanée-Conti and a case of 1978 Montrachet.

Cornwell alleged that Tang bought a number of the bottles from Richard Torin, the single largest customer of Antonio Castanos, who acted as the wholesaler for wines supplied by controversial collector Rudy Kurniawan, currently on trial in New York for four counts of wine fraud.

“I have no information at all which would suggest that he is involved in any way in attempting to knowingly market counterfeit wines.

“However, I am somewhat concerned that he is attempting to defend the authenticity of the bottles that were sold that I questioned,” Cornwell said.

The La Tâche was withdrawn from the auction as “a precautionary measure”, but the other two lots remained in the catalogue and were sold.

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