Friday, October 12, 2012

Wine in the News

Wine in the News
        The October 5 New York Times contained an interesting story with respect to a lawsuit brought over a very expensive bottle of wine.  ‘Rare’ Wine May Have Been Too Young, but Lawsuit’s Charges Were Too Old, Court Says, by James Barron.
       William T. Koch, in 1988, bought one of the now infamous Thomas Jefferson bottles purportedly discovered by Hardy Rodenstock.  These bottles, since determined to be fakes, are the subject of the book The Billionaire’s Vinegar by Benjamin Wallace (2008).  As reported in the article, in 2000 Koch had the wine tested for its age, and it was reported back that it was most unlikely that the wine was from the purported period.  However, it was until 2005 that Koch brought suit against the Christie’s auction house, alleging that he had been defrauded.  Curiously, Koch had not bought the wine thru Christie's, although it had auctioned other alleged Thomas Jefferson bottles.  Rather he bought it from Rodenstock through another wine house.  His claim against Christie's was based on RICO and the assertion that it had through promoting the Thomas Jefferson bottles in the face of questions as to their authenticity engaged in fraudulent conduct.
       Applying four-year statute of limitations for cases of alleged RICO fraud, Koch’s suit was dismissed, the court indicating that his knowledge of the possible fraud should be dated to his receipt of the test results in 2000.

       The decision is Koch v. Christie's Internatinal PLC, Docket No. 11-1522-cv (2nd Cir. Oct. 4, 2012), affirming Koch v. Christie's International PLC, 785 F. Supp.2d 105 (S.D.N.Y. 2011).


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