The wine fraud story in Vanity Fair

FBI wine

Mike Steinberger writes a nuanced, 5,000-word piece on Rudy Kurniawan and wine counterfeiting on VanityFair.com. Although it draws some material we have discussed here previous, such as the court documents including Kurniawan’s indictment on wine and mail fraud, the piece offers insights from numerous interviews of participants involved in the multi-million dollar saga. Lots of interesting details emerge: apparently Kurniawan purchased so much “unremarkable” old Burgundy from one negociant that he “emptied [their] cellars.” Also, the complexity of Burgundy may have been what tripped him up as early in his rise in the wine world, Kurniawan appears to have confused a Christine Ponsot Clos Saint-Denis for a Domaine Ponsot (unrelated) Clos Saint-Denis that didn’t even exist. Steinberger writes “If that is what happened, it is a mistake that now has Kurniawan facing up to 80 years in a federal penitentiary.”

If you are going to looking for a long, thorough piece on the wine fraud story, check out this terrific one. What part of the story do you find the most amazing?

“A Vintage Crime” VanityFair.com

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4 Responses to “The wine fraud story in Vanity Fair”


  1. I find all these stories intriguing, including “The Billionaire’s Vinegar”, mainly for highlighting a mix of greed, vanity, ignorance and wealth.
    Put people with these characteristics together and something’s going to give eventually. Basically, collectors (real or criminal) drive up prices with the end result that most of us never get to see any of these wines, thereby setting the scene for counterfeiters to exploit the large gap between knowledge and wealth.
    Oh well, c’est la vie!


  2. “Rudy has been advised by someone with extensive knowledge of a very complicated Burgundy. I know who it is, but in the current state of the investigation, I keep this information secret. Rudy himself should denounce his informants and his accomplices.”

    That’s quite a claim. I wonder when M. Ponsot will feel able to divulge the identity of the Mystery Advisor.

    On other fronts: Golly, I sure wish I knew people I could call on the phone who’d lend me a million dollars.


  3. […] has purchased the movie rights to “A Vintage Crime,” a story by Mike Steinberger about wine counterfeiting that appeared yesterday on VanityFair.com. Edward Milstein and Bill Todman Jr. co-founded Level 1, […]


  4. What isn’t amazing? Still, there is no information on where Rudy got his money initially and what happend to all the money he defrauded people out of. And what his background is.


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