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Sep 3, 2007 10:49 PM

Is Hardy Rodenstock The World's Most Successful Wine Fraudster?

An interesting article in The New Yorker's annual food issue, it indicates that some of the most expensive rare wines sold are not what they seem to be:

The implication of the article is that a fellow going by the name of Hardy Rodenstock is one of the world's most successful rare wine counterfeiters, who seems to at least have been partially abetted by the "losey goosey" establishment of province by a major auction house, and the unwitting endorsement of Robert Parker.

Even if the Jefferson bottles are a fraud, and Rodenstock ends up going to prison, this mixologist par excellance will probably become the king of the pruno industry.

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  1. Incredibly fascinating article!

    5 Replies
    1. re: LindaWhit

      At first I thought "who is this rich guy, Koch, who expends enormous amounts of money on his life style and likes to sue the bejeesus out of people". Then after reading the whole article, my opinion changed, "Cool, I hope Koch and his agents nail 'Rodenstock'."

      It is also a commentary on all the "middle-men", whether wine brokers or elite auction houses, they just can't seem to pass up a deal, no matter how shady it might be.

      1. re: ChinoWayne

        Koch's mostly known as the person who skippered the America's Cup boat back in 1992 and brought the Cup back to the U.S. And now, of course, he's known for a wine collection that includes fakes. :-)

        I was *really* surprised at the ease with which Sotheby's joined in the reindeer games and sold the wine, even after they knew there were investigations going on as to whether or not the wine was truly counterfeit.

        1. re: LindaWhit

          "I was *really* surprised at the ease with which Sotheby's joined in the reindeer games "

          Welcome to the auctions world! Both Sotheby's and Christie's have a long track record with the courts of law. And not just in the wine dept...

          1. re: RicRios

            No doubt that Sotheby's and Christie's have seen their fair share of time in the courtroom, especially of note was the conviction on price fixing (both houses were convicted of collusion in both raising their commission structure to the same rate at the same time a few years back... for all things, not just wine. ART is where they make their money, wine is a miniscule part of their business). They had to repay collectors for the amt of overcharging and the Sotheby's top exec had to do some time in jail.

            However, this article and the wines in question were mainly a problem for Christie's. Actually, Sotheby's comes out looking pretty good in the wine area as far as rejecting fraudulent bottles for sale (as mentioned in the article). In the Koch case and the other one mentioned in the article, Christies and some of the other auction houses are the ones being targeted... not Sotheby's.

            1. re: WineTravel

              My bad - I had read the article earlier in the day yesterday, and Sotheby's was stuck in my brain as the house that had knowingly sold fake wines, not Christie's.