Koch wine fraud case turns personal

The wine fraud case being played out in a New York court room between rival billionaires turned personal this week as a former servant of Eric Greenberg took the stand against his one-time employer.

bill koch

Bill Koch arriving at the court in Manhattan where the trial is taking place

Jaime Cortes worked for Eric Greenberg for four years as his personal chef and manager of his home in Ross, California.

According to Forbes, he took the stand as a witness against his former employer after reading about the case in The Wine Spectator and offering his services to Bill Koch’s legal team – the billionaire wine collector is suing Greenberg for US$320,000.

Although there is some doubt as to whether or not this breaches a confidentiality agreement he signed is in question – he claims he does not remember signing it.

Koch is not recompensing him for being a witness but is said to be covering his legal fees.

Sitting in the dock, Cortes called Greenberg a “tyrant” and admitted calling him an “asshole” in an email.

He apparently held the jurors in rapt attention with the details of running Greenberg’s homes and also noted his boss’s distress after a visit from Sotheby’s international head of wine, Serena Sutcliffe MW (who had earlier given evidence via a video link), which had revealed some of the wines in his cellar to be counterfeit.

A total of 108 bottles were identified as potential fakes that had been sourced from a suspect wine supplier known as Royal Wine Merchants.

Greenberg apparently reached a settlement with the company in 2004. Cortes said he did not know how much money changed hands but that Greenberg was allowed to keep the bottles in question.

Crucially he added that when he asked for one of the bottles as a trophy, Greenberg refused saying: “What they did to me, I’m gong to do to somebody else.”

It is this point that Koch’s legal team are pushing, the fact that Greenberg knew the bottles he consigned to two Zachys auctions between 2004 and 2005 were fakes.

In the cross examination, Greenberg’s lawyers, headed by Frank Cialone, tried to discredit Cortes by portraying him as a spurned employee.

It was also noted that his testimony was far more polished and theatrical than his 2010 deposition, and that the two accounts conflicted on certain points.

The case continues.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please note that comments are subject to our posting guidelines in accordance with the Defamation Act 2013. Posts containing swear words, discrimination, offensive language and libellous or defamatory comments will not be approved.

Subscribe to our newsletters

Sales Support Executive

Davy's
London, UK

Partner Manager – On-trade - Greater London

Maverick Drinks
London/M25 belt, UK

Partner Manager – On-trade - North West

Maverick Drinks
Manchester, UK

Partner Manager – On-trade - West & Wales

Maverick Drinks
Bristol, UK

Partner Manager – On-trade - South East

Maverick Drinks
Brighton, UK

Events Sales Executive

The Drinks Business
Central London, UK

Sale & Operations Manager

Marussia Beverages
Marylebone, London, UK

Prestige Account Manager – Europe

Jackson Family Wines
London, UK

Pink Rosé Festival

Cannes,France
7th Feb 2018

VinoVision Paris

Paris,France
12th Feb 2018

Vinisud

Montpellier,France
18th Feb 2018
Click to view more

Champagne Masters 2017

The only Champagne blind tasting in the UK, the competition will reward the best wines in the following categories:

The Global Rosé Masters 2017

With wines from the palest of pink to almost ruby red, bone dry to almost cloyingly sweet, reductively handled to barrel-aged, as well as gently spritzy to fully sparkling.

Click to view more