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Jailed ex-secret serviceman’s wine on sale

Ivory tusks, gold bars, 12th century Buddhist statues and fine wine, including a bottle of US$4,000 Pétrus, have gone on sale at a most unusual auction at a military base outside Bangkok.

Fine wine auction – Bangkok style

The fine wine auction market has certainly attracted its fair share of crooks, and even with the nefarious fraudster Rudy Kurniawan now behind bars many suspect his crimes were just the tip of the ice-berg.

Yet the latest auction story involving dodgy provenance is slightly different. Rather than the wines themselves being in question, it is the man who once owned them.

During his long reign as head of Thailand’s Central Investigation Bureau – the equivalent of the FBI, Lt. General Pongpat Chayapan amassed a collection of vintage Dom Perignon Champagne and a US$4,000 bottle of Château Pétrus.

Last November he was convicted on corruption charges including money laundering, extortion and bribery, and is now serving a 32 year sentence.

The wines were part of 27,000 items seized by police, including ivory tusks, gold bars, 12th century Buddhist statues and a vast stash of art, with a total value of over 1 billion baht, (US$30 million), as reported by the Jakarta Post.

Last week a small portion of these ill-gotten gains, including the wines were put up for sale in an initial four-day auction at a military base outside Bangkok. A second sale is scheduled for later this month. Whether the Pongpat connection will somehow boost the price of the bottles is unclear.

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