August 30, 2017

THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS QUALITY (profanity alert):

THE GREATEST WINE FORGER IN THE WORLD (Dwyer Murphy, 8/30/17, LitHub)

Just before dawn on the morning of March 8th, 2012, a team of a dozen FBI agents in bulletproof vests drove through the streets of Arcadia, California, 15 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles, at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains. Soon, they arrived at a white stucco house on Naomi Avenue, the home of Rudy Kurniawan.

Kurniawan was one of the world's preeminent wine collectors and dealers. In 2006, at just 30 years old, he'd consigned a cellar to the house of Acker, Merral & Condit that set a wine auction record with a sale of $24.7 million. The source of his wealth and his wine was a mystery. There were rumors of a family fortune in Indonesia, where he was born. His collection was said to derive from a cache once owned by the French merchant, Nicolas. Kurniawan regularly played host at exclusive cellars and well-stocked restaurants like Cru in New York and Osteria Mozza in LA, where he covered the bill for hedge fund managers, wine barons, and auctioneers. He was a tasting room savant and a full-fledged oeno-socialite. He was also, as it turns out, a fake, one of the most prolific forgers in the long and storied history of high-class American scammers, which is why the FBI took him into custody that morning in March, 2012 and shipped him to New York City to stand trial on charges of fraud.

Posted by at August 30, 2017 6:42 AM

  

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