FAKE & COUNTERFEIT WINE – SCRATCHING THE SURFACE, eBAY, CORKS WITH FINGERPRINTS……AND A PSYCHO….
There have been quite a few alarm bells ringing around the world of Fine Wine recently. Whilst this issue has been wrapped within the market since time began – as with most – the ‘real’ fear that is being sounded through many commentators suggests that the on-going trial of Rudy Kurniawan is a case that is merely “Scratching the surface of something that is huge” according to head of Chai Consulting Maureen Downey during a speech at a wine industry conference, the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair. She went further, “How much fake wine he was able to throw into the market… we have no idea” – A concerning comment indeed! Maureen Downey is a lady whose comments we should take seriously – Although no exact figure was used, a recent story published in The Drinks Business suggests there may be as much as 20% of global Fine Wine sales deemed fake!
On line auction house – eBay have recently defended their anti-fraud measures when concerns were raised after a recent court case regarding the availability of fake wine labels on their site. Armand Aramian received a four month jail sentence in Bordeaux after he was found guilty for ordering fake Mouton Rothschild labels (reputedly from China) and then reselling them to an eBAY seller in 2010. In an interview in Decanter, Lawyer for Mouton Rothschild, Andrea Lindner-Jamin, acknowledged that the presence of fake labels on eBAY is a problem, ‘It is very disagreeable, but the most important thing, is that we are watching out and we are ready to act quickly, as this case proves.’ A spokesperson for eBay said the group already takes a tough stance. ‘eBay’s extensive anti-fraud measures include the Verified Rights Owner Program (VeRO), which allows rights owners to quickly and easily report copyright infringements. ‘eBay promptly investigates each notification and all listings duly reported are removed, and eBay’s global asset protection team cooperates with authorities in investigations, to strengthen the fight against fraud.’
Italian manufacturer, Brentapack has created the ‘IDCORK’ system that they claim will allow users to access details of a wine’s history via an app (using corks imprinted with individual codes), which is designed to “guarantee the authenticity of the wine”. Following the launch of their product at the International Enological and Bottling Exhibition in Milan, Brentapack spokeswoman, Anna Michelazzo said “The composition of a cork is like a fingerprint, the natural holes within it, the little cracks, make it unique – a one-off.” Brentapack CEO, Gianna Tagliapetra, claims “In a few seconds and with a few clicks, you will be able to ensure that the contents of the bottle are not an imitation”.
PSYCHO……………..Finally, the name that is synonymous with ALL of the above…… Rudy Kurniawan! It has been widely reported that the defence lawyers, acting for the master of disguise (of the wine market that is -currently being held in a Brooklyn detention center) – due to the now infamous case where millions of dollars of fake wines have (oh yes -allegedly!) traded through his hands, will plead insanity! According to the Wine Spectator, one of Kurniawan’s Lawyers, ‘Jerome Mooney of Los Angeles, was quick to shoot down any talk of insanity pleas but did not explain why a psychiatric examination was necessary. “We are not seeking and do not anticipate, an incompetency claim or an insanity defense,” Mooney wrote in a Nov. 8 letter to Berman. “It is not our intention to attempt to delay the trial. Instead, there are certain things that have come to our attention during our brief time with our client that we believe require further evaluation.”’ ……………………………………