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The Case Against Kurniawan

2012 March 9
by Mike

Rudy Kurniawan was arrested yesterday and charged with three counts of wire fraud and two counts of mail fraud in conjunction with the attempted sale of counterfeit wines. He was taken into custody by FBI agents in Los Angeles and is being transferred to New York. I will have some more comments later, but here’s the complaint that was filed against him by federal prosecutors in New York; the details are pretty amazing (among the many morsels: Kurniawan racked up over $16 million in American Express charges between 2006 and 2011, and he has been living illegally in the United States since 2003, when his asylum appeal was rejected and he was ordered to leave the country).

11 Responses leave one →
  1. James permalink
    March 10, 2012

    I will never think of that amazing Clash track in the same way again.

  2. Jane Skilton permalink
    March 9, 2012

    Hi Bill. Soundtrack by Joe Strummer. One of my favourite movies. The real deal :) best, Jane

  3. David Schildknecht permalink
    March 9, 2012

    Allen Meadows explains that it was he who questioned the existence of a ’59 Clos St. Denis and then wrote to Doug Barzelay about it. Doug compared his records and saw that he too had no experience with any pre-1985 Clos St. Denis. Doug then contacted Ponsot. Case clarified.

  4. March 9, 2012


    I haven’t seen Grosse Point Blank, but I love The Clash and that song in particular.



  5. David Schildknecht permalink
    March 9, 2012

    Looking back at my notes, I see that Doublas Barzelay is also credited with having alerted Ponsot to the fraudulent bottles in question. But I also notice considerable discrepacy between accounts I read or received about the circumstances surrounding their being pulled from the auction. Assuming this comes to trial, I presume evidence on that matter will be thoroughly sifted.

  6. Jane Skilton permalink
    March 9, 2012

    Bill – please tell me you were inspired by Grosse Point Blank when posting those lyrics.

  7. David Schildknecht permalink
    March 9, 2012

    Thanks much for the reminder, Berry, about Allen’s role, about which I was aware directly from him. (In the other two places where I posted the previous note and was at liberty to scrub my tracks, I revised it to include Allen ; -)

  8. March 9, 2012

    How you get a rude and a…reckless?
    Don’t you be so crude and a….feckless,
    You been drinkin’ Ducru for…breakfast,
    Ruuuu-dyyyyy can’t fail!

    Alas, goodbye to all that:

  9. March 9, 2012

    David – According to a post eBob it was Allan Meadows who reported the possible fake to Ponost so one could argue it was him who got the ball rolling.

  10. David Schildknecht permalink
    March 9, 2012

    Thanks are above all due Laurent Ponsot for having raised consciousness and set things rolling to turn what for too long seemed like Sitzkrieg into a proper offensive against fraud.

    But there is something both surreally fortuitous and for that very reason frightening about the circumstances of this fraud.

    With all the great wines that have been grown and have eventually ascended to sky-high auction prices, why try to pass off wines that the record will show were never grown?! And had it not been for such a foolish act of ludicrous overreach, the chain of events that led to Kurniawan’s arrest would never have been set in motion.

    The world’s wine collectors appear to have simply gotten very lucky the day Rudy indulged in forging fantasy Ponsot.

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