Koch Sues Christie's Over Alleged Counterfeit Wines

Suit claims two German engravers testify they put "Th.J." on Jefferson Bordeauxs
Mar 30, 2010

Bill Koch has fired the latest salvo in his crusade against counterfeit wines, filing a suit in a Manhattan federal court today against Christie's International, accusing the venerable London-based auction house of conspiracy to defraud and aiding and abetting fraud. In the complaint, Koch claims to have found witnesses who can testify that they engraved the so-called Jefferson Bordeauxs, several bottles of wine uncovered by German dealer Hardy Rodenstock, who claimed the wines were ordered for Thomas Jefferson. Christie's sold several of those wines. Koch also alleges that several other rare wines he bought from Christies are fakes.

Koch has filed multiple suits since he first came to believe that four Jefferson Bordeauxs he bought from London and Chicago retailers are fakes. He is currently suing Rodenstock in New York. After hiring investigators to comb his 35,000-bottle cellar, Koch has filed suits over other allegedly fake wine, including cases against New York auction houses Zachys and Acker Merrall & Condit, as well as the Chicago Wine Company and collector Eric Greenberg.

Christie's has been a leading source for rare and collectible wines for decades. The suit alleges that, "Christie's and Rodenstock are involved in a continuing scheme to sell counterfeit wines." Koch claims that former Christie's wine director Michael Broadbent knew of questions regarding the provenance of the Jefferson wines before the first one was sold in 1985 for $156,000. The complaint says that two German engravers, who are not identified by name, told investigators that Rodenstock hired them to engrave several bottles, including the bottles engraved "Th.J."

Koch also alleges that he bought 32 counterfeit wines from Christie's for more than $33,700. "To me the simple, straightforward solution to this problem was for Christie's to recognize its wine department was acting as an independent, rogue division, admit it, and clean it up immediately," said Koch. "That would have resulted in an easy settlement with me and greatly enhanced Christie’s reputation in the collectors’ world as an auction house that will not tolerate selling fakes of any kind."

"We have great respect for Mr. Koch," said Toby Usnik, a spokesman for Christie's in New York. "We believe the allegations in this complaint are incorrect." Neither Broadbent nor Rodenstock could be reached at press time.

Crime Fraud Collecting News

You Might Also Like

Dallas Welcomes Georgie by Chef Curtis Stone

Dallas Welcomes Georgie by Chef Curtis Stone

The Los Angeles chef makes his Texas debut. Plus, Restaurant Award winners in Australia and …

Dec 5, 2019
An Exclusive Peek at the Wine List for Eleven Madison Park's Upcoming London Sibling, Davies and Brook

An Exclusive Peek at the Wine List for Eleven Madison Park's Upcoming London Sibling, Davies and Brook

The restaurant is set to open Dec. 9 in Mayfair's Claridge's hotel

Dec 4, 2019
Shanken News Daily: Moët Hennessy Buys Control of Luxury Rosé Leader Château d'Esclans

Shanken News Daily: Moët Hennessy Buys Control of Luxury Rosé Leader Château d'Esclans

The French luxury giant LVMH adds Whispering Angel and Sacha Lichine's other high-end rosés …

Dec 2, 2019
Will France Go Dry for January? Macron Says No

Will France Go Dry for January? Macron Says No

The French president weighs in after health agencies consider the idea. But is a month off …

Nov 27, 2019
Jean Gautreau, Visionary Behind Bordeaux's Sociando-Mallet, Dies at 92

Jean Gautreau, Visionary Behind Bordeaux's Sociando-Mallet, Dies at 92

Originally a wine merchant, he purchased a rundown wine estate in 1969 and revitalized it

Nov 25, 2019
Can Cannabis and Wine Coexist?

Can Cannabis and Wine Coexist?

As California’s cannabis industry matures, development in winegrowing areas sparks conflict …

Nov 22, 2019
WineRatings+

WineRatings+

Xvalues

Xvalues

Restaurant Search

Restaurant Search