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March 16, 2012
In case any of you didn’t know – The world of wine fraud was catapulted into the news last week – as Rudy Kurniawan, a man whom I have alleged was a counterfeiter for over a decade, was arrested on Thursday in LA. At his home, the FBI found a whole counterfeiting operation including a drawer full of fine and rare wine labels, capsules, bottles of California wine with sticky notes that had indications of what old & rare Bordeaux they were to be turned into, bottles soaking in the kitchen sink, and on and on….for info see http://tinyurl. com/KurniawanArrest. To view the criminal complaint see…winediarist.com, thank you Mike Steinberger.
As you know, I have been working with investigators on the issue of wine fraud for some time – but have been a vocal opponent of fraudulent practices for over a decade. Despite often very difficult and threatening opposition, I have held my ground – and insisted that it is a real problem, and that Rudy – among (possible) others to be taken down in the near future, are a source of the fraud. Now there are vendors and auction houses that have sold tens of millions of this man’s ‘wine’ – and possible co-conspirators with whom to contend. I believe this is the beginning of a number of arrests, and actions against those that would propagate fraud in the fine & rare wine world.
While it is never easy to stand up for what you believe in the face of opposition, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for your support throughout these years. I especially want to thank Jancis Robinson, OBE, MW, jancisrobinson.com, who has both tirelessly reported on the issue and been an important mentor and huge source of personal support to me; Don Cornwell, (story about Don found here: vinography.com) a great friend, confident and fellow outspoken collector trying to bring light to the issues; Bill Koch and his whole team who have determinedly worked to eradicate fraud in the fine & rare wine market; John Tilson and the undergroudwinenewsletter.com, who has diligently reported on the story for more than 30 years; and of course our favorite department in the FBI. There are countless other journalists, collectors and friends not named here that have also been extremely supportive – and you all know who you are. With their help and support and now the increased awareness and public support along with of you all who have believed in me through all these years, I promise you I will continue to be a loud and proud voice for integrity and authenticity in the fine and rare wine industry.
Maureen Downey, DWS, CWE