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Counterfeiter Rudy Kurniawan is back in the wine business

Convicted wine fraudster Rudy Kurniawan, whose case was made into the Sour Grapes film, is thought to be back in the trade.

In the dock: Rudy Kurniawan

But this time it is being reported that he is recreating ‘fake’ wine for clients that can be tasted next to the real thing, legally.

Wine fraud expert Maureen Downey has uncovered at least two parties in which Kurniawan was reportedly tasked with creating fake versions of wines such as 1990 DRC Romanée-Conti, 1990 Petrus, 1990 Domaine Jacques-Frederic Mugnier Le Musigny and 1982 Château Cheval Blanc, which the guests then compared to the original wine, according to website Wine-Searcher.

Downey, who reportedly uncovered both photos and tasting notes from a dinner in Singapore in July, told Wine-Searcher that it was “amazing” to her that “people are paying him for his company” and “also paying him to counterfeit wine.”

The dinners, she said, were generally hosted by billionaires who could pull some of the biggest wines from their cellars, with Rudy making his own version of that wines to compare it.

She explained: “They have a meal and they taste them side-by-side, blind. The man that writes the tasting notes is very good.

“The overall impression is that people prefer Rudy’s wines, because they’re fresher. That really speaks to the audience.”

Kurniawan was found guilty of multiple counts of wine fraud in December 2013, including making fake wine, which he sold for $1.3m between 2004-2012, and wire fraud for using the fake wines as collateral to secure a loan of US$3m. He is believed to have sold as many as 12,000 bottles of fake fine wine at auction in 2006.

He was sentenced to 10 years in prison in August 2014 by Manhattan US District Judge Richard Berman and ordered to pay US$28.4 million in restitution to his victims, and another US$20 million as part of a forfeiture agreement.

Kurniawan spent seven years in prison but released in November 2020 and immediately taken into the custody of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), before being deported to his native Indonesia in April 2021.

 In 2016, a documentary called Sour Grapes charting his rise and fall was released.

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‘Wine counterfeits will continue to be a problem,’ says Maureen Downey

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