Wine scammer to be jailed for selling fake vintages

Disgraced dealer sold $20m in counterfeit vintage wines made in his kitchen

Corks, capsules and labels used as evidence in the trial of wine dealer Rudy Kurniawan
(Image credit: STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

A wine dealer found guilty of selling at least $20m (£11.8m) of counterfeit alcohol will be sentenced in New York today, the BBC reports.

Rudy Kurniawan, 37, was convicted in December of producing fake wine in his kitchen and selling it to buyers and collectors for large sums.

The Indonesian-born dealer was arrested in 2012, after police gradually became suspicious about the scale of his cellar of fine wines.

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Police said that they found thousands of labels for fine Burgundy and Bordeaux wine in Kurniawan's house, alongside unlabelled bottles. It is believed he attracted buyers by offering some real bottles, interspersed with the phoney vintages he produced in his kitchen laboratory.

One of his victims was billionaire William Koch who apparently bought more than $2m in counterfeit vintage French wine from Kurniawan, Bloomberg reports.

Kurniawan now faces up to 40 years in prison, and federal guidelines stipulate that prosecutors should call for at least 11 years.

However, the prosecution wants a longer sentence because of Kurniawan's lifestyle of "extravagant purchases of authentic wine, luxury cars, a Beverly Hills mansion, flights on private jets, designer watches and clothing, fine art and much more".

According to prosecutors, the wine dealer "is not sorry for what he did, he is sorry that he was caught" and they have urged the court not to show Kurniawan "any leniency".

Defence lawyers, meanwhile, have appealed for his immediate release, noting that Kurniawan has already spent more than two years in custody since his arrest in 2012.

Prior to his arrest Kurniawan had developed a reputation as a serious and respected dealer through years of application to his trade. In recent times he came to be considered "one of the best aficionados in the world," the BBC says. In 2006 alone, he is believed to have sold 12,000 bottles at auction.

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